The very fact that you are reading this means that you are literate in some form of digital technology. It also means that you are able to actually participate, to some degree, in forming the opinions of others.
Unlike Newspapers, and both Radio and TV broadcasts, in which you receive information but cannot actually respond to it, there are many forms of the digital world that are truly interactive.
Before you start disagreeing with me I will concede that by telephoning 0500 909 693 or texting 85058 you can participate in what is currently being said on BBC 5 Live. Similarly you can add your voice to Podcasts or email various TV and Radio programs.
However, Blogs like this enable you to respond, at whatever length you want, to other people’s point of view. You can also become a Contributor and actually originate your own opinions, to which people can respond.
A classic example is Gerald Hodgson who, through the medium of our Parish Magazine, Wagtail, and my Village Website and this Blog, brightens our lives each month with his Musings. Indeed, on this Blog, people can, and do, interact with Gerald and make their own contribution to his views. I can also reveal that people from all over the World, including New Zealand, follow Gerald via the Whittington digital world.
However, and I am finally getting to the heart of this rant, there are forms of Social Media with which people can interact. Firstly there is Facebook. I have no problem at all with Facebook. I, and quite a lot of other people in our village as well as those, like Hazel and Chris Tomkins, Gordon Bates and Emily Barnes, who no longer live in the village, still keep in touch using Facebook.
Because Facebook is a personal Network it is very rare that anything escapes out to the world at large. The reason is that the only people who can see what you say are those that you have formally accepted as “Friends”
Twitter however is another matter altogether. Anybody can Tweet anything to anybody. Originally Tweets (that’s the name for things that you Twitter on about) were limited to 140 characters (including spaces). Currently this has been increased to 280.
You can say anything about any subject you want and people can re-Tweet your comments, which basically means copying them on to other people, or they can respond to your comments either agreeing or disagreeing.
People use what are known as “hash tags” which are tags like “#whittingtonblog” or “#kirkbylonsdale” in order to either “follow” or search for, in order to keep in touch with a specific subject or person.
People have personal tags, for example on Twitter I am “@johnatloynepark” that is by unique Twitter name (because there are a profusion of John Keegan’s in the World, most of whom are singularly more infamous than me. One is the massively famous British Historian whose book on WWII sits comfortably on our coffee table as though I am the John Keegan who wrote it (I was inclined to say, in Ernie Wise fashion, “what wrote it”.
My experience has been that there are only two sorts of people who contribute to items on Twitter. They are those that fervently agree, or those that violently oppose, anything that everyone else says.
In essence Twitter is the same people talking either, to or at, the same people all the time. Things said on Twitter pass totally over the head of your average man on the street (or Hackney Omnibus) and have no impact upon them.
But, when the person who is “Twittering on”, just happens to be the President of the United States of America, or a British Cabinet Minister, or a famous (or infamous) Sports or Media personality or other high profile personage, then things take on another aspect.
The “Media” i.e. the written Press or TV and/or Radio, pass on to the, none Twitter World, the remarks which have been uttered by said personality (limited of course to 280 letters and spaces) as though they were a well reasoned argument presented in a measured manner, and not just the babblings of a person suffering from an attack of bile.
What was of interest to a few people on Twitter now becomes of interest to the whole of the World, simply because the remarks made to a few members of the Twitterati have now been launched into the public arena, as though, 1). They actually matter 2). Somebody cares and particularly, 3). It will have an impact on how people will vote.
The days of people buying Newspapers have gone. Those that do still need their daily dose of newsprint only ever buy the paper that matches their view of the world.
As an aside, I found it remarkable when I worked in HR at the Reebok warehouse in Morecambe, that in an afternoon you could find about thirty copies of the Sun, a dozen of the Daily Sport, and very little else, spread around the tables in the canteen.
The point I am trying to make is that what is in Newspapers only matters if one or other of the TV channels picks up on, and therefore advertises, what they say. The Andrew Marr Show on a Sunday epitomises this.
Newspapers now rely on their On-Line editions, and that includes the Lancaster Guardian and Westmorland Gazette.
To conclude. It is my view that what is said on Twitter should stay on Twitter and the mainstream media should source its own news.
If what President Trump said on Twitter remained on Twitter then he wouldn’t appear to be such a Twit. When he said, that “If Graham Williams and John Keegan treated my Administration in the same way that they treat Whittington Parish Council, I would have the CIA take them down”. So there.