Thursday, 10 October 2013

Expert Extraverts

The Guardian is running a Twitter masterclass with David Schneider. It costs £50 for three hours of advice from the ‘Twitter obsessive with over 150,000 followers’, as well as ‘the BBC’s David Levin’ who ‘is a professional tweeter responsible for accounts such as @BBCTheVoiceUK, @BBCApprentice.’

I’m interested to know what advice they could give. Not fifty pounds of ‘interested’ but interested in a general quizzical-look-to-camera sense.  As much as I hesitate to offer the obvious observation, there is a reason why they a in a position to call themselves ‘experts’ and that is because one is a celebrity and the other is tweeting on behalf of celebrities. Their only advice should be: become a celebrity and then open a Twitter account.

I wish the world were otherwise but we’ve become a culture dominated by vocal types, eager to position themselves as experts in subjects that really defy expertise. ‘Twitter expert’ sounds as meaningful as sticking ‘ghost hunter’ on your résumé. The things that determine success are intangible and generally indistinguishable from doing a psychic reading on a bowl of blancmange. Yet it’s all part of this great social media hoax that’s perpetuated on all of us. Social media is a repulsive modern phenomenon, usually pursued by horrendous Americans with half a million followers and who only ever babble on about their methods for getting even more followers. They bring nothing new, beautiful, or even entertaining into the world. They merely feed on the dreams we all have of being recognised in an increasingly alienating world. They hog the bandwidth like the millions of motivational websites that earn their repulsive creators a fortune by misleading the gullible.

I’ve spoken before about the long time I used Twitter, where I got up to around 9,000 followers by pretending to be Uncle Dick Madeley yet never broke a hundred as myself. A joke written as Madeley would be widely retweeted and commented upon. The same joke posted as myself would die an ignominious death. The conclusion is that celebrity imbues things with a quality which cannot be replicated. It’s why these Twitter experts can stand there and offer advice but the essential truth is that we live in an age of marketing when brand awareness is the only true religion.

I suppose it all feels relevant today because I’m just about to start reading a new book on my Samsung. It’s Susan Cain’s ‘Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking’ and the reason it appealed to me should be quiet obvious. I’ve always been an introvert but in recent years I’ve become more thankful that I wasn’t educated in these more ‘enlightened’ times when I would probably have been diagnosed with mild autism. Not that I think myself cold or detached but relatives sometimes say that I am. I'm not. I'm just not a big talker. The other day I was asked to do an eColour test as part of my new work. The result was that I’m ‘green/blue’ or a ‘relating thinker’. Personally, I thought the ‘science’ indistinguishable from physiognomy or even water divining. The results described me to a point but much of it was well off: I like my routines, get edgy if I change anything, but I don’t have checklists. I don’t enjoy ‘doing things by the book’ and I’m definitely not tidy. Nor am I a slow worker. In fact, I tend to work extremely quickly. It’s strange that anybody would judge me according to these criteria but that is what now happens. The real me is replaced by a corrupted version of myself, as offered by an expert website. We live in a world of experts whose credibility has never been tested but whose words carry power.

If cynicism were part of the ‘green/blue’ diagnosis then I might be less skeptical. Perhaps it comes from being an introvert. I’d like to think so given that one-third of people are apparently introverts. That statistic surprised me but also gives me some hope. I thought introverts were rarer than we are but now I can think that at least a third of you might also be introverts. Perhaps it explains the general silence on this blog, in which case, I welcome it with quiet satisfaction.


  1. Take heart. I find you are an enjoyable read, but feel any comments are an unnecessary blemish on your blog.

    Not sure is you have a visitor counter but, trust me, you can count me in the number if you do. To paraphrase Sir Brucie: "Ke-e-e-e-ep blogging!"

  2. Thank you. I wasn't fishing for compliments and this blog has been struggling along for a long time with little feedback so I should really be used to it. Some days, though, I do like human contact, so I suppose I was fishing for something. And you gave it to me so I'm really grateful. ;)

  3. Perhaps I should be jotting a quick note to you occasionally - "Good post," etc. But then, you might get downhearted if no comment is made. Oh, what a pickle! To comment or not to comment... Now look what a quandary you have put me in!

  4. So true. Actually, very true. Yet I don't expect lots of comments from lots of readers, even if it is good to hear from people and to know that there are intelligences out there reading my words. Just a few are enough because the alternative is for me to gaze at my stats and see people searching for porn and accidentally ending up here. It can get a bit soul destroying. However, these brief exchanges do keep me going and make me want to put that extra bit of effort into writing my better posts, which I promise I'll do once I'm not working every hour on these cartoons for the competition.

  5. Interesting that you seem to find water divining even stupider than physiognomy. Maybe your cynicism has been tainted by your colour test ( or season reading as I remember it). If your character is plain in your fizzog I'm in real trouble.

    P.S. Can you gee up the Emir please. I had to hit the )))))))))))))) oh fuck button many times to get that.. oh you get it....

  6. I think my problem last night might be something to do with my 'fizzog' and who knows... Perhaps people are right to judge me on it. Water divining I'd love to be real but the swines never manage it when they're being filmed.

    Glad you reminded me about the Emir. Not heard from him in a while and I've made many rash promises based on my getting that cash and you're towards the top of the list.