Wednesday 29 December 2010

The sound of one string vibrating

Twitter is where you go to share. Where something resonates so deeply inside of you, sometimes, that you can do nothing but reach for the keyboard and tap, the deep seated need to say to someone, anyone, even when no one is within speaking distance that 'I saw this and it hit home' or 'I read this and it made me think' or 'I listened to this and it made me laugh so hard'.

The things which resonate with me are different to the ones which resonate to you. I am different to you. We are all different. We are told, from a very early age, that we are unique, that we are all special, that we are all fundamentally different, from DNA to home circumstances, religion to facial features. We are different and that is something to be celebrated.

This is post is about collection. A collection of minds. Because as I use Twitter as a place to drop my thoughts, my sparks, my epiphanies, my laughter and occasionally my heart, something magical happens. Something strange, if we all are to believe we are unique. People retweet our words. In a blink, sometimes hundrends of people, simply by the act of retweeting, add their silent affirmation to a statement or a collection of words. Sometimes they add a personal comment and sometimes they don't. Sometimes there is disapproval and disagreement. But more often than not, there is the condoning of a concept, or the further expansion of a concept as something hits the Twitter stream and people feel the need to wrestle publically and in full view with the things which I believe 10 years ago would have happened behind closed doors or in a closed group around a pub table.

Suddenly, we are not alone. The thinkers and the dreamers. We have found each other, the leaders, the CEO's, the politicians and the academics. There are even artists and actors. A cacophony of voices speaking with similar voice, talking and argueing, debating and discussing, freely and with no holds barred. No fear in saying 'you are wrong and this is why'. No offence taken in being on the receiving end of such comments. Links shared, differences of opinion bounced back and forth. People forthright in the condemnation but also quick to praise, to say 'yes this is what I believe in too'.

I have come to know, through Twitter, some of the greatest minds I will ever know. They challenge me. They push me. They ask me questions and in answering I am forced to accord courtesy and not be flippant, not make a joke out of embarrassment. Instead I sit and I think, and sometimes I step away from the keyboard and the questions spin on the backburner but I always come back with the answer that I have carefully though through, if it didn't come spinning out of my fingers immediately.

In this way, publically, I and thousands of others share our thoughts, our hopes. We ask what we want from 2011 and we answer and see that others want the same things. Dream the same dreams. Are starting to believe that it could be possible that we could build a small part of the world where to think is to be valued, where to think and question, incessantly question why does this system work this way, why does that process not work and how can we hack it, how can we fix it, how can we make this better? Be good. Be social. Be smart. Be passionate. Be yourself.

Be. Your. Self.

I have learnt. It took a year. Different woman, different life, different circles, same venn diagrams. I am a tiny tiny little cog in a massive think tank. We are all a think tank. From Citizensheep to Podnosh, from Paul Clarke to Pubstrat, from Emercoleman to HadleyBeeman, from John Baradell to Tom Watson, from DemSoc to Danosirra, from bosses to not bosses and more besides, we are thinking, we are fixing, we are sharing. Fears are whistled down the wind. There's no space any more for being shy or being afraid or parapets. I am not that person. Instead there is just a need to learn, to make mistakes and learn from them, to allow my mind to run free and see what it creates, and on Twitter, this year, I have flown. I have finally set out my stall. I have let go and jumped. This blog is the testament to Twitter as a proving ground for shy people to practice speaking their mind.

I didn't know I had any opinions, a year ago. I didn't know I had any skills, a year ago. I didn't know I would find so many friends, a year ago. And they are friends, your society norms be damned. I have met and hugged and discussed and smoked with and laughed and fought with. I have grown up. I am still a child because to be a child permits the asking of all the questions and I think, permits a forgiveness of me in the people I ask questions of.

I am looking forward to 2011 so very fiercly. I have a ball of excitment in the pit of my stomach. Because I am going to take the pause button off and I am going to see what happens. Already, in the last week, ridiculous emails have been sent. Unimaginable emails. And I am grateful. So very grateful. But to say no is to acknowledge that that is not my path. It cannot be my path. I don't know where I want to walk, only who I want to follow. I don't know where the path will go and all I can do is walk it and pray there will be no cliff hidden in the forest at the end.

I will have an office wall one day, to hang the framed words someone sent to me today.

So, as an early NYE post, here's to 2011. To social enterprise and caring. To picking people up and dusting them off and giving them a helping hand. To caring and not being afraid to show it. To finding the broken proccesses, in our democracy, in community engagement, in cohesion and every kind of exclusion, to helping young people be brave and bold and brilliant, to helping 'disabled' people be truly enabled, to planning differently, communicating differently, thinking differently.

But dear Twitter. 2010 has been one hell of a ride. You changed my life. Thank you.


  1. What a fantastic post! I know I've said that to you before! Thanks for this.


  2. Amazing. No scrub that. AMAZING!

    That is Twitter for me too! Its just the most incredible place where you can laugh, share, debate, love, fall-out, link, joke, be serious and learn! Learn from people you'd never dream of ever being allowed to connect with and learn from the carefully curated networks we each build.

    I'm glad you are part of my network and look forward to learning more from youin 2011.


  3. Thank you. Both of you. I am honoured to be a part of your networks too. I find myself in such esteemed company that for a while I got a little intimidated. And then I realised that learning is why we're all here, and suddenly it all made sense again :O)

  4. Thanks for expressing so articulately and openly your reaction to twitter and the people you’ve connected with through it. I couldn’t agree more.

    I joined twitter this year and have found it just brilliant to have conversations with people interested in the same things, people I would never have otherwise had means to connect with in this informal way. I’m also trying to learn to read the views of people I don’t agree with, I think perhaps twitter is a way of openly spying in the minds of people I wouldn’t choose as friends, but might come across through work. It’s hard not to shudder in offence sometimes, but then I just go back to the lovely tweets and fantastic discussions. And isn’t it just great that in the space of a minute you can be part of an engaging conversation and also send someone a virtual hug or a bit of support?

    I’ll join your toast – here’s to thinking differently… and doing differently. :)

  5. Louise, you write about this so well (in fact you write brilliantly in all of your posts, I so enjoy reading them - thoughtful, challenging, entertaining, sometimes saddening).

    What you've written here describes my feelings about Twitter too, but I could never express myself so fluently. Good luck with all that you do in 2011 - and keep writing about it so we can all follow you!

  6. agree with the previous commenters, Lou says what we all think, and she says it so well...
    chris x