I'm trailing in the worldwide reaction race

Sarah Sands admits to falling for the speed and grace of Twitter

Share
Related Topics

I write this from the Rhodope mountains in southern Bulgaria, where I have been studying butterflies. All is still, apart from the drone of bees, the buzz of crickets, a gentle breeze – and a drowning chorus of Tweets jostling for attention. Since surrendering to Twitter last week, I am never, ever alone. You can hike but you cannot hide from the crowd of characters, directing users to the collapse of British journalism, announcing the latest on the Greek bailout, or detailing the contents of their children's packed lunches.

Now that the medium has come of age, the radical thing is to be snooty about the incontinence and banality of Twitter. On the contrary, because it has come of age, it's irresistible. The digital revolutionaries boast that, these days, news finds us. Last week it was practically chasing me down forest paths.

The phone-hacking story was Twitter Christmas. No matter that most of those who Tweet merely redirect their readers to items published elsewhere. In this self-glamorising world, they become characters in State of Play and All the President's Men, snatching the allure of our new Charlie's Angel, Wendi Deng. I was slightly surprised that newspapers appeared at all last week, for every British journalist seemed to be on Twitter, facing stiff competition from the showbusiness end of the trade – Armando Iannucci, Stephen Fry or Giles Coren.

Which is not to say there isn't lots of solipsistic nonsense about. Columns or blogs are no less boring for being advertised by their authors on Twitter; too many metropolitan figures who should know better post schmaltzy observations about their children and gratuitous accounts of their nights out; alpha males such as Andrew Neil, Tweeting about their imminent departure to New York, the view from their hotel room and their thoughts touching the tarmac at Heathrow sound only like the man on his mobile phone: "I'm on the train!" There's also a cultish smugness in the way the Twitter community welcomes late adopters to its world and inducts them in the game.

And yet, amid the aggressive self-marketing and the messianic need for "followers", there are nuggets of journalistic joy, including, last week, some moving maternal reaction from Polly Samson after hearing from her imprisoned son.

In the end it becomes addictive because it embodies the founding principle of journalism. We are all asking, as Rupert Murdoch does, What's doing? And revelation is king. As a journalist from the prehistoric, pre-internet era, I remember the luxury of being repeatedly first. It wasn't so hard. Now, you have seconds to stake your claim.

For a time it was enough to observe. Then, inevitably, I wanted to take part. When Wendi lunged at the pie-thrower, I looked at my daughter and back at the internet feed. For a moment the world was wondering what was going on. No one had remarked on it, yet. "Go!" Tiger child shrieked at me. I hesitated.

My daughter grabbed my BlackBerry. "Say it now," she pleaded. "Look, I will write it for you." And she did. "Wendy [sic] is the heroin [sic] of the day." But already it was too late. After the nano suspension of time, Wendi jokes came surging through.

The best (and worst taste) from Giles Coren, who likened Mrs Murdoch's intervention to Jackie O, scooping up the brains of her assassinated husband in the presidential car. I was the girl in the rubber ring paddling in the shallows, watching champion surfers at Newquay.

No wonder journalists dominate Twitter. It is a newsroom of clever and slightly annoying people. Like journalism, it's for show-offs. How did I live without it?

Sarah Sands is deputy editor of the London Evening Standard

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Photographer / Floorplanner / Domestic Energy Assessor

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letter from the Whitehall Editor: The spurious Tory endorsement that misfired

Oliver Wright
 

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband hasn’t ‘suddenly’ become a robust leader. He always was

Steve Richards
Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence