This week, the 10th anniversary of the founding of the social network, we’re asking our contributors for their tweeting experiences – good, bad and proper weird. Today, Claire Goodwin and Dotty Winters tell us how Twitter can take you to some pretty strange places. And that’s not always a bad thing.
Two years ago I set foot in the big white tent of cakey dreams in Welford Park. The Great British Bake Off would open up opportunities I would relish, and make me realise talents in myself I didn’t really know existed.
But it wasn’t because I was any good in the tent – things went to pish and I cried like a loon on national TV. It was because I was trolled on Twitter for being fat. Lots of different types of people projecting a fairly nuclear level of bile towards my frame.
Now, surprisingly, it didn’t make me cry. I received 10 times the amount of love as I received hate. I actually felt a bit of pity for the keyboard warriors. I went on to write about it on my blog. I later found out I was supposed to run that past the BBC, which I didn’t. But hey – we live and learn.
“My Facebook feed was full of mates telling me, ‘You’ve won the internet, Claire.'”
Whether it was a slow news week, or whether it was because I fell into a highly topical subject matter and had the publicity from the biggest show of the year, my blog post was picked up all over the place.
And, reading it now, it’s a fucking good article. I’m so proud of myself. It was quoted, republished, shared and opined upon, and my words supported and celebrated by all manner of publications. My Facebook feed was full of mates telling me, “You’ve won the internet, Claire.”
I was then, and still am, invited to write articles and take part in radio interviews regarding body shaming. The blog post also encouraged people to read about my mental health and, of course, my baking. I now do after-dinner speaking, guest speaking, am a University Ambassador talking to student clinicians about mental health, I’ve written for a few newspapers, I guest spot as a Lunchtimer on BBC Radio Manchester and demonstrate at food festivals.
I know that it’s the Bake Off that started it all, but I’m convinced I would have withered into the ether if I hadn’t received the bile of those few soulless meanies.
My greatest achievement? An email from Sarah Millican saying she was starting a magazine and wanted funny, strong women to make up the authorship. Would I?
ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME??? Yes with big fucking sprinkles and chocolate sauce on top. Now, I’m part of this collective of some of the funniest, sharpest and talented minds in the country. I’m sure they are going to figure out I’m an imposter at some point. Sshhhhhhhhhh.
Not bad for a fat bird.
Twitter has never lost the power to surprise
I love Twitter because it is deliciously random and has the power to surprise and connect.
I’ve written here before about my slight obsession with the Hae Min Lee murder case, as discussed in the podcasts Serial, Undisclosed and Truth & Justice.
While, at face value, this is a story of a murdered girl and potentially wrongfully convicted man, for me it’s been the story of those who are fighting to raise the case’s profile, present new evidence and right wrongs. Chief among these is the funny and fearless Rabia Chaudry – the indomitable force who connects all three podcasts, and the voice which first brought the story to a worldwide audience.
As someone who regularly tweets about this case, the first time Rabia favourited one of my tweets I felt like I’d been given an A+ by my favourite teacher.
“I followed the hearing obsessively on Twitter, timing my breaks to coincide with scheduled breaks in the Baltimore court.”
Last month, Adnan Syed had a post-conviction-relief hearing in Baltimore, a real and significant chance of a new trial and the opportunity to discuss new evidence. Anyone who has followed the case will be aware of Asia McClain (now Chapman), a potential alibi witness from the initial case whose testimony has the potential to exculpate Syed.
I followed the hearing obsessively on Twitter, timing my breaks to coincide with scheduled breaks in the Baltimore court, so I could watch the deluge of tweets from those who were in the room.
Chapman’s bravery and testimony were impressive, and I said so. I didn’t expect her to tweet back to thank me. I didn’t expect her to tweet me her sadness about the loss of Lee, and the lack of closure. I didn’t expect to cry at my computer seeing a further glimpse into the pond-ripples of loss and sadness that surround this case.
When Thiru Vignarajah, the prosecutor received some gentle ribbing about his approach to following up witnesses, I joined in with an impromptu hashtag meme #ThiruInHaiku.
— Dotty Winters (@DottyWinters) February 9, 2016
The next day, my phone started beeping as a number of emails, DMs and texts arrived to tell me that my haiku had found its way into a Guardian article about the case.
Twitter is weird, sometimes sad, sometimes joyful, but often surprising.
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