I think you probably gathered that the last 6 months we have really taken to twitter. Well, thanks to twitter we have our next guest blog written by the always entertaining Rich Harrison. We've never met Rich, never spoken to him, yet feel we know him really well due to this Twitter lark. We're off to play in his house soon so I'm hoping he is a lovely fellow and judging by his blog, I'd say we were on safe grounds. Read and enjoy, then go follow the man! (On Twitter, not the streets, that's illegal).
Weetabix BTW…LOL ;o)
How I changed my life using Twitter and the word YES!
I remember the day in May 2009 when my wife told me that @predacomDom had invited us to go Geocaching with him and his family via Twitter. I had a Twitter account that like many people had one tweet along the lines of 'what is this all about then?' and been dormant since then and I certainly didn’t know what Geocaching was. My wife @ShivHarrison had engaged with it a little more and was following Dom as he had a daughter about the same age as us and was having another. Apparently I should have found this interesting but I was sceptical and didn't know why I wanted to know about a stranger.
Anyway, she arranged for us to meet a strange family at Hearsall Common near our house to look for a geocache. I probably didn't stop moaning and questioning what the hell we were doing but agreed to it. We had a great afternoon and I found some treasure!
3 years later I am approaching my 40,000th tweet and would pretty much be there for Dom and his family whatever happens. So what happened to change my opinion?
I know people think that the Twitter event that changed my life the most was the wonderful day that @martineofficial replied to me but they are wrong...just.
Yes I have had some good chats with some heroes, @DaveGorman, @bobbyllew and @keithchegwin...and even got some book recommendations from @beathhigh but this is easy if you stalk them. If you truly follow artists that you admire and engage with them then it is more than possible using Twitter to feel closer to them and get an insight not possible via a website or magazine.
If you constantly beg Justin Bieber to send you a birthday message then you will be disappointed.
It isn't celebrities that have given me anything substantial though...
Twitter gives you that chance to chat to a stranger 'at the bar' without having to pluck up the courage, appear weird AND you know things about them in advance so you know you have something in common. This is already a huge bonus if you are bored with your colleagues at work and don't fancy hanging around in pubs hoping to make new friends, but when you've got kids and you can't leave the settee it is invaluable.
So, starting with Dom and his wife, we've met (via them or by ourselves) literally so many twits we can both truly call friends that without Twitter we probably would never have known existed. These are real friends in that we've met them IRL (it's still geeky!), spent happy days out, evenings in and had some fabulous experiences with.
We've played a homemade version of The Cube in @matthogan's conservatory, I've bent circuits with @predacomDom and @arctic_sunrise, we've tweeted up on New Year's Day with some ducks and @lisacov19, I've attended Pecha Kucha evenings with @GarethStringer and @daveyjay1985, we've shouted obscenities via Skype during drunken Mario Kart races with @Mrs_Sunrise_, @loonytoon and @poppypurple to name literally a few memorable occasions. It helps that all the above tweeple (see?) live in Coventry, however one of the closest friends Twitter has delivered was made via a game of @barryfromwat's Blankety Blank, in the form of @RaeMcK from Thame. Rachael is now friends with more people in Coventry than her home town and is an amazing person who has made my daughters presents, made us laugh, made us cry and beat Dallas from the Bang Goes The Theory in his own 'name the element' competition at Coventry's own Godiva Festival. That's the same festival where I was introduced to a new Tweeter by an old one who offered me a free Pork Pie if I visited his butcher's, less than a year later we consider @taylorsbutchers and his family great friends, with the added bonus of a birthday Sausage Making party thrown in!
What else apart from amazing friends? Isn't that enough? Hell no.
I've never had what one would consider a cool taste in music (sorry Martine) but I've always aimed for one. I can't remember how I found Coventry's own @stylusboy in my timeline but I did. Loved his music, loved his outlook on life and again he was a young dad who empathised and understood my 'pains'. A visit to see Steve, where I offered to take a few photos, at a local festival has lead to us seeing him play live more times that anyone in my life, in clubs, at festivals, on allotments and in our living room!
From the little acorn that is Stylusboy my musical branches have found the awe inspiring @atlumschema, @wesfinch, @lukeleighfield, @wilfulmissing, @sarahaeroplane, @sihayden (who I discovered lived in the house opposite!) and some grumpy Mumford & Son types you might have heard of called @barricadesrise. I've been the 'official' photographer for a couple of these artists and seen my 'art' all over blogs and magazines! I've even been asked to produce a photography article for @ElegantSavages’ eponymous magazine in a couple of months. I now know that I can spend a cheap and enjoyable evening in @TaylorJohns, The Nursery Tavern or at Ditch The TV with new friends listening to some amazing music.
Oh, and Steve persuaded me to start a music blog (I'm easily persuaded) which has cost me a lot of sweat, tears and money, but I'm loving it.
Twitter has also aided me in my quest to become the youngest grumpy old man in the UK. In the OLD days if you wanted to complain about a product or service you’d have to write them a letter or even worse, email them and wait and wait. Now, jump onto Tweetdeck (the old version of course) and simply moan. I’ve been amazed and impressed at the speed I have received responses, and apologies from @KingOfShaves, @sainsburys, @SkyHD and @AskDyson. Try it, it is empowering and a little but fun.
That'll do? Persuaded yet?
Oh, 'just' these things too that would never have happened...
· Receiving donations of camping chairs, bike trailers, plants and meat (thanks @steverumsby and @bruciestokes)
· Been saved from many DIY SOS moment (one of the HUGE amount of things @rorymcintyre and cupcake goddess @dee_mcintyre we are grateful for)
· Tossing around in a damp field with new Disc Golf buddies (including faux French man @mannyc and spookily @RichHarrison72).
· Having a stall selling my photography at a couple of craft fairs.
· Taking part in a Flash Mob or two ('thanks' @MarkDHancock and @vornster!)
· Growing a moustache for Movember and personally raising £600.
· Had some surrogate Mothers for my children when needed and one for me (@anglaisinsete you know it's you...and possibly @flylilypad too! xx)
· Won after many attempts a pub quiz with Team Twix (including @britishrain who broke into an all-male world).
· Been quoted in the local paper and 2 radio stations for rants around potholes and park fences.
· Celebrated births (including super Dad @coleone21 and his tiny beautiful twins), new jobs, new houses, new cats, the building of Lego monuments, shared recipes, chatted to Policemen, 'shouted' along with others at The Apprentice, been to a Duck Race, got tips on the best plumbers and plasterers, been commissioned to create an image for a CD inlay card...I'm tired now ;o)
And last but certainly not least, it has introduced me to people at work and around that I've seen but obviously never talked to. I have networked so much better in 140 characters and 3 years than in the last 9 years at work. It's amazing to attend a meeting with someone from a completely different department/building to find out you already know them better than your boss expects you to!
Most of the above has started with Twitter but happened because we’ve said YES and interacted with strange people we didn’t know before, strange people that live near us or share experiences or like the same music. Strange like us! You have to take risks on Twitter and talk to strange people, but if you don’t like them there is a button called Unfollow. If only real life was so simple.
My top tip for Twitter (and life in general) is if someone asks you if you’d like to visit an interactive art exhibit; say YES. If someone wants help building a shed; say YES. If someone asks you if you’ve ever inhaled a crème caramel; say NO but YES I’d like to try!
If someone asks you if Twitter is just for geeks; say YES BUT BE PROUD!
So if you know anyone who thinks it is just about telling people what you had for breakfast...show them this.
Richard Harrison aka @mr_spoon.