Sunday, 12 April 2020

I Quit Twitter At The Best And Worst Possible Time

It's not much of a secret that I love Twitter. There's something about the brevity and transience of tweets that appeals to me - I can use it to record fleeting moments and thoughts. I've also made a lot of online friends through the site, some of whom I've met but most stay reassuringly distant. There's something quite addictive about expressing your thoughts to a bunch of people you're not going to bump into on the school run or in the shops.

And addictive is the right word - at the start of this year I realised I was spending unhealthy amounts of time on Twitter. I tried limiting that time to 2 hours a day (yes, you read that right, that was a reduction) but I felt like I needed to take a proper break. So I decided that I'd give it up for Lent, only dipping in on Sundays.

When Ash Wednesday rolled around, coronavirus was a concern as the first cases in the UK had been recorded earlier that month, but numbers were still low and we hadn't had any deaths here. It's strange to think that was just seven weeks ago. I had no idea of the impact the virus would eventually have on our country. 

In one way, being off Twitter as things descended into dystopia was a relief. As much as it is a good place for a chat, it's often like you're having that chat in a very crowded room with lots of very angry, shouty people. Constant retweets bombard you with outrage and fear. It's not great for an anxious person. (The irony is there seems to be a lot of anxious people on there.) So not having the facts and opinions around coronavirus shoved in my face all day every day was actually really helpful.

But then, when things started to ramp up, I missed having my Twitter 'family' to talk to. When, on my birthday (16th March), the first significant restrictions of movement were brought in and I said goodbye to my mum not knowing when she would be able to visit again, I wanted to fire off a miserable tweet. As that week progressed and my autistic daughter's life was plunged into chaos with friends and school staff disappearing into isolation, then the announcement of school closures, I wanted to go where I knew there would be people who could relate. And as lockdown began with the loneliness it brought, I missed that connection even more.

One thing about the Twitter app is, it's needy. Even if you're not using it, it'll send you notifications alerting you to popular tweets. And this was another thing which made it really hard to stay off - the tweets went surprisingly quickly from the usual parenting chat to people who I've chatted to for years falling ill or even losing relatives. I felt awful for not responding to their tweets.

Ultimately I think taking a break was a good idea. I wasn't to know what was to come but it would probably have made me feel worse to keep reading tweet after tweet of bad news and criticism of our government's approach. On Sundays I would check in and retreat from the 'noise' very quickly.  And it's meant that I've talked online more with "real life" friends, who are the ones I'll need to connect with when this is all over.

Time will tell whether this break will change how I use Twitter, but I think I'll definitely become more selective about which tweets I read and engage with and focus more on the chats and friendships that make it a good place to be without paying too much attention to all the shouting.

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Review: 'Mister TV' by Julie Fulton and Patrick Corrigan (gifted)

DISCLAIMER: I was provided with a copy of this book for the purpose of this review but all words and opinions are my own. 

It's been a while since I blogged - before Christmas I was starting to find it more of a chore than a pleasure so I took a little break which turned into a few months - but now I feel like I need an outlet and a distraction from what's going on in the world. (If you're reading this from sometime in the future, this is the era of Covid-19 lockdown, remember that? Things get better, right? RIGHT?)

Anyway, a little while ago I got a lovely package of books from the ever-fabulous Maverick Children's Books, one of which was this great non-fiction picture book about the life and work of John Logie Baird.

For those of you who, like me, get their inventors mixed up, John Logie Baird was the inventor of the television - and let's face it, right now that is something to be very grateful for! This picture book begins in his childhood, when poor health meant that he was often unable to go out and see his friends. But this became the driver for his inventions, giving him the will to find other ways of communicating.

The story doesn't just talk about how he invented the TV but it explores many of his inventions, including the ones that went wrong. This is something I really love about the book - it shows that sometimes things don't work but that if we keep trying we can find something that does work. It's a great message of resilience, perseverance and creative thinking.

The story part of the book communicates John's achievements in a clear, accessible way and the illustrations are very engaging and help to tell the story really well. There are also little fact boxes scattered through the story for further context, and the introduction and endpages give lots of great factual information too.

I really enjoyed reading this book and I think it would be great for younger school age children to introduce them to the work of this great inventor. I love the message it gives of keeping trying even when things don't go how you want, and the fact that Logie Baird's inventive nature was born out of isolation is very timely!!

'Mister TV' is due to be published later this Spring so keep a look out for it!

Linking up with 'Read With Me' hosted by Mama Mummy Mum and Kids Love to Read #KLTR hosted by Laura's Lovely Blog, Acorn Books and BookBairn.

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