There has been a fair bit of bad press about unsavoury behaviour on Twitter. Some of it has been criminal behaviour such as the naming of the victim in the Ched Evans rape trial. There have been some thoroughly unpleasant personal attacks such as those on Louise Mensch. Don’t get me wrong politicians who are so obviously deluding themselves deserve criticism however I believe the phrase “rancid cunt” oversteps the boundaries of political commentary. This all surprised me because my own personal experience of Twitter has been wholly positive.
The need for lawyers to embrace social media and specifically Twitter has been eloquently made in recent posts by Chrissie Lightfoot @TheNakedLawyer and John Hyde @JohnHyde1982 . I would heartily agree with both but it isn’t just about what it can bring you in a business sense it is also what it can do for you as a human being.
I only discovered Twitter just over a year ago and it takes a little while to settle in. It’s a bit like being at a party and being stood on the periphery of a group who are deep in conversation. You would like to join in but you don’t feel confident enough to just butt in and so you just stand and listen. You start picking up on the in jokes, the etiquette, the hash tags and all the other things you need to learn to really immerse yourself into Twitter. For a while I simply read what others wrote, followed the links to interesting articles, followed the people that had something interesting to say. Then after a short while I found myself commenting, re-tweeting and just generally joining in. That however was only the beginning.
For me there was a seismic shift in my interaction on Twitter when @_millymoo re-tweeted a request for a recommendation of a legal aid solicitor to deal with a tricky personal problem. I know lots of solicitors and lots of barrister’s clerks all over the UK and so I thought I would try to help. I made a quick call got a couple of names and numbers and forwarded them on. I won’t lie it was a nice feeling to do something for someone else, best of all it actually helped. I am still in touch with the tweeter who was seeking help so I also made a friend. I have made recommendations to others since and will keep doing so, it takes me no time at all and it may just help someone who really needs it.
There was a tweet from @Flawbord about a brilliant scheme for children who are affected by separating parents called Odd Socks. I won’t describe it in detail here, read the article and if you think you can help get in touch with @OnlyDads and @onlymums or me. I am really excited by Odd Socks and yet I would never had heard of it without Twitter.
I suddenly realised that I had something to say and I couldn’t say it in 140 characters. I had read so many other blogs and articles and I wanted to join in. I wrote an article for a Business Development companies newsletter and got @_milymoo to critique it for me. She said it was cobblers (only kidding) but it was too late I had got the bug. WordPress beckoned me with a cheeky wink and come hither look and so I took the plunge and started writing a blog. I have written another article which has been published on my favourite work related website Legal Futures.
Whilst at the Legal Futures conference last month I met some of the tweeters that were my virtual friends and have now become proper flesh and blood friends. I won’t embarrass her by naming her but one of my new friends is an absolute stunner, some bloke in the pub said so and therefore it must be true. In future I intend to meet as many others as I can as time allows. I would not have attended the Legal Futures conference had it not been for Twitter as I wouldn’t have known about it.
I have read some brilliant articles, laughed heartily at some very odd humour and been touched by the level of genuine interest and warmth tweeters show to each other. The amazing thing about all of this is that everything that happened from that first response to to a request for help to now has taken only 64 days.