I fear I may have inadvertently become an internet stalker.
I’ll try to keep this short and tweet.
What began as a bit of loitering, has gradually progressed into lurking, only to finally evolve into stalking. I am talking here about having discovered the world of social networking – Twitter, in particular.
As I may have mentioned before, I have this ‘thing’ with the internet. ‘Thing’ being a mild way to describe the driving desire I experience when I come on here without strict guidelines and a specific goal in mind. Otherwise it’s akin to sending a lone child off into a sweet shop, with a credit card – don’t expect me back any time soon, or without having bought or eaten everything in sight.
Apart from my insatiable desire for seeking out information on any topic which randomly distracts my mind, I have a particular ‘interest’ in reading ebooks – an extension of my love of reading the real thing. This unfortunate turn of events came about as the result of acquiring an iPod Touch a while ago, when I was suddenly catapulted into the world of apps. And, being of limited imagination when it comes to using technology, my attention was drawn to the familiar and comforting world of books – available instantaneously on my iPod. Oh joy! I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.
Then, oh double joy, I found that they were also accessible to me on my computer. All this time and I hadn’t known I’d got an instant library at my fingertips. Out of my mind went the tiny detail about why I had given up going to the real library (because it’s full of books, and I would bring as many of them home as possible, and promptly get lost in reading them all, whilst neglecting other areas of my life – like sleeping, eating properly, getting dressed, and suchlike. You know, the trivial details).
So I failed to make the obvious connection between an internet library and the real thing, but instead made up for what I’d been missing out on, promptly going berserk, reading round the clock, and probably doing untold damage to my eyesight, and my brain, in the process. All attempts at controlling it didn’t work, due in part to the fact that I couldn’t think of anything else to use the iPod for, other than to listen to music (which was the original purpose for buying it).
In the end I did the only sensible thing – I got rid of it. However, a monster had been unleashed, and now demanded to be kept fed - the love of on-line reading. I’ve always been a voracious reader, and here I’d found another way of doing it, with access to a whole world of literature I’d never have otherwise encountered, or wanted to pay for. Or wanted to be seen in the company of. This way I could have access to books which I would not consider checking out of a library, or buying from a bookshop, because of the embarrassment. I have my image to maintain, don’t you know.
In the process I discovered a particular author whose books I found I liked. That would not have been so bad had I not also discovered that she has a blog, which I proceeded to follow. And then I found ‘THE LINKS’ – yes, there they were, sitting innocently on the page, under the heading ‘Want to get social?’ And, of course, the social butterfly in me (yeah, right – she sits alongside the maths genius, the computer geek, and the musical maestro), she piped up and insisted that yes, she did, that she’d like to stretch her wings a little, and that it would be okay just to have a little look. Really, it would only be a peek.
And the rest, as is so often the case, is history: meaning a repetition of the same old thing, with the inevitable conclusion - I am now a Twitter obsessive.
However, this does not mean that I have joined the ranks of the Twitterers, and am now gaily interacting with the inhabitants of that strange on-line world. On the contrary, I merely sit on the sidelines, reading tweets, feeling a familiar sense of detachment, whilst being fascinated with the conversations taking place. It actually feels like I’m reading a book, or watching television (another medium which I had to rid myself of, ‘cos it was sucking the life out of me). I begin to live vicariously, whilst my own life gradually fades into the background, eventually almost ceasing to exist.
I have gone so far as to calculate the time difference between the countries of said author and myself, in order to be able to work out when I can next expect new tweets to appear. This is on account of the fact that I initially spent a great deal of time checking and re-checking every few minutes, only to be frustrated to find there was nothing new to read: until I realised that it was the middle of the night in America when I was doing most of my twalking (a new word for tweet stalking). Yes, it’s got that bad. If I carry on like this, I’ll be plotting out her day!
I feel a bit like a voyeur, which is faintly disturbing, even though there’s nothing sexual in what I’m doing. But then our world has become quite voyeuristic, the way we are able to read about or watch what’s happening in other peoples’ lives, via the news or reality television, newspapers and magazines, and the internet. Me, I find myself strangely fascinated and enthralled by the way people discourse with each other. I imagine this is how an alien would feel, peering through a microscope at an entirely different species, studying how it works.
Or perhaps it’s ‘cos it’s a bloody effective way of avoiding my daily routine!