Don’t ‘follow’, just ‘search’ on Twitter

Duncan Barkes, the legendary talking radio broadcaster, has dumped me.

I don’t mean he pressed the button to cut me off from one of his brilliant phone-in shows, but that he dumped me on Twitter. I know lots of people get dumped by text these days, but this was a shock.

It hurt.

Duncan, a southerner, soundtracked a lot of my life when I was first banned from London and had to move to Liverpool.  He was one of the main broadcasters on the ill fated and seriously mal-managed local talking radio station City Talk.  His voice was one that I could understand.  I can’t understand a word most Scousers spit, and there was Duncan, this foreigner, a bit like me, alone amongst it all like a safe beacon reminding me that actually I wasn’t alone.  From that moment we bonded.  We had a very special yet quite manly non-gay connection.

Sadly, Duncan was ‘sacked’ alongside the whole talking team when the powers that be decided to convert City Talk into a pointless jukebox playing 30 or 40 songs and replaying recordings of exactly the same news bulletin 4 times an hour.  A complete loss of so much potential.  Liverpool is crying out for an LBC style talking radio station, yet they killed it from the off.  Duncan headed back down south and popped up now and again on talkSPORT and London’s LBC.

Duncan had discovered Twitter whilst in Liverpool, and continued to use it, more so, once he returned to civilisation.  He followed me and I followed him.  It was nice.  Happy days.

Suddenly, one day, he decided to stop following me. He’d decided he hated me.  And loads of others.  He even wrote about it in a blog, too.

Phew!  It really wasn’t just me, it was everybody.

I’m used to people deciding to drop me off from ‘Friendships’ on Facebook and ‘Followings’ on Twitter when they get tired of my rants and decide I am no longer relevant to their lives, but not my Duncan. Hence I felt a little better that it wasn’t personal.

Duncan had gotten fed up with the almost broken society that is those who tweet and actually fight and argue in 140 characters.  The last straw was the rough ride that previously sensible politicians and muttering classes were giving each other.  Duncan blew a gasket and deleted his Twitter account.

Maybe the reason why it all got a bit annoying for Duncan was because he was reading it all.  I don’t think anybody can actually do that and not have their head explode.  I follow over a thousand people, and if I was to try to watch everybody ‘live’ I’d never get to read a thing as the stream would be moving far too fast.

A while ago I discovered the easier way to watch, read, and learn stuff from Twitter is actually to read via ‘Searches’ for certain keywords.  Much is made of the ‘hashtag’ or ‘#’ followed by a word or phrase like #proofchristopherisawanker, and how certain topics are ‘trending’, but the ‘hashtag’ isn’t necessary as, just as in any Google type search, once you know the right word to search for you can see all the information you need.

Recently running live searches for ‘riot’ and ‘loot’ told me all I needed to know, and up to an hour before it would be ‘breaking news’ on mainstream TV and Radio News Channels.  This, to me, is the correct, and indeed only way to read Twitter.  Yes, for a handful of folk you will want to read every single 140 character outburst they emit, ever!  But, if it’s not for actual breaking news from people who are actually ‘there’ as citizen journalists and videographers, then it’s information and croudsourcing about current opinion that one is after.  This is what Twitter provides in abundance.

Yes, there’s ‘noise’ and false reporting and wind-ups and distractions, but once one knows how to assess and look for confirmations, there is pretty much no need to go anywhere else to find out what’s really going on. The hunt for the story this way is addictive and exciting.  It also tends to get deep into the real truth and not what mainstream media’s spin or Governments around the world’s spin might be on a ‘truth’.

Maybe Duncan would have enjoyed Twitter if he’d spent some time using it the ‘search’ way rather than the ‘Follow’ way, ‘cos there sure are some arseholes on Twitter like @christopher_eng and one could easily go insane just reading all their crap.

Meanwhile, reading via ‘searches’ leaves no room and no need for TV and Radio News channels or newspapers ever again.

Now, that’s got to be a good thing.