Jayne Dowle: It’s not good to share when you’re going on Twitter

DO you feel the need to share every gruesome detail of your latest ailment with perfect strangers? Do you wake up wondering whether Russell Brand and his new wife Katy Perry will have tweeted an update on the state of their marriage? Do you feel much happier when you have informed the world that you have been standing at the bus-stop for 20 minutes and you’re going to be late for work?

Thought not. Like me, you fail to see the appeal of Twitter. I admit, I took a long time to come round to Facebook. And now I’m a devotee. At least with Facebook, unless you are especially sad, you don’t go around stalking celebrities so you can brag about being the first to learn the earth-shattering news they have just popped into Starbucks on Hampstead Heath for a double espresso. And if you fancy a day or two off from Facebook, you don’t feel as if you have fallen off the edge of the world.

Texting? Well, my mobile phone company informs me that my text message usage compares with that of the typical teenager. However most – in fact all of them – are not so riveting that I would want anyone else except the intended recipient to read them: “I’m in Netto. Do we need milk?”

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Not going to set the gossip-mongers on fire with excitement is it? I admit, I am hardly incommunicado. But this Twitter thing is driving me mad. I know I sound like a proper old curmudgeon, but is there no dignity left in the world? Is nothing sacrosanct and private any more?

It was terribly sad when the actress and television presenter Amanda Holden lost her baby. But was it really necessary for thousands of people to express their condolences so publicly? Losing a child is always a tragedy, but get some perspective.

Most of the “fans” who tweeted in sympathy have never met Ms Holden, and never will. And when it came to her celebrity chums, didn’t their rush to emote smack a bit much of one-upmanship? If you don’t post a tweet, it looks like you don’t care. And that wouldn’t do your own public profile much good. Wouldn’t these gushing messages have had much more of an impact if they had arrived in the form of a hand-written card to their “friend”?

And don’t you think that tweeting is just another way to keep some of these “celebrities” in the public eye, even when their obvious appeal has waned?

For goodness sake, Shane Warne, the former cricketer who is surely old enough to know better, is reported to be tweeting fans to ask them to recommend restaurants where he might woo Elizabeth Hurley, his latest squeeze. This passes for news in the “information age”.

I know we live in a democracy, and people should be free to do what they like. Indeed, when you consider the part that Twitter, and other forms of social networking have played in the uprising in Egypt, you can see what a tremendous force for change it can be. Events like this should make us all think about the speed at which the world is evolving, and the growing power of the individual.

But this obsession with sharing every intimate detail of your life with people you don’t even know concerns me. Fundamentally, it is all about the ego. Do you really think that other people are bothered that you have had a cold for three days now and it’s showing no signs of going? Being on Twitter must be like working in an office full of really annoying individuals who never cease from regaling their colleagues with tedious details of their mundane lives.

I was ranting on about this recently to someone who is plugged into Twitter 24/7 and he expressed surprise that I wasn’t already on it.

This friend pointed out that considering the rate I have random thoughts about everything from politics to the price of fish on Barnsley market, Twitter should be the perfect outlet for me. But quite frankly, I’ve enough on my plate to juggle, without stopping every time a random notion pops into my head to compose it in a witty/erudite/insightful message of 140 characters or less and share it with anyone who happens to pick it up.

And it seems that mothers – none I know, but they must be out there somewhere, because Mums Rock, a Twitter site devoted to parents and their concerns, has 5,000 followers – are getting it in the neck because they are spending too much time on social networking sites and neglecting their children.

Well, as you might know, I have every sympathy for mothers using every tool in the kit to make their lives as manageable as possible. But I can’t help but wonder what kind of example this sets to their kids.

Will they grow up assuming that the only meaningful way of communicating is by typing into a keypad? Will the sales of post-it notes plummet, sending the world into further economic meltdown? Do I care enough to join Twitter and tweet my views to the world? No.