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Why it's so hard to leave behind the Twitterati

According to research, approximately 5pc of us tweet, and the number of us joining Twitter is growing. Grace Dent, a columnist with The Guardian newspaper and Marie Claire magazine, is an avid tweeter, and has identified a condition called '3,000 follower syndrome' which strikes when a person gets ideas above their station because of the number of people following them on Twitter.

Dent herself has over 75,000 people following her every utterance on Twitter, and so has observed this inflation of ego in herself. She forensically examines how the condition strikes in her new book, How To Leave Twitter; My Time as Queen of the Universe.

Dent has not, it has to be said, left Twitter, and remains a magnet for anyone looking for humorous insights into current affairs, celebrity goings on, and girlie gossip.



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She believes that having gained around 3,000-plus followers, some tweeters will begin to see themselves as something of 'a Twitter lynchpin.'

They may begin to worry about being recognised on the street, and find this 'infringement of their privacy' a pain in the butt. They will apologise in advance to fans that they might not be available to tweet in certain circumstances, for example, a funeral or during their sister's home birth, but they will try their best not to disappoint.

They will group-respond to the question that apparently 'everyone is asking them'. When you check their feed, nobody is actually speaking to them.

These are not the only ways in which people can lose the run of themselves when they become popular on Twitter, according to Dent. For example, someone totally addicted to tweeting may find themselves called into their boss's office and asked to cut down on tweeting. They may become deeply wounded when anyone disagrees with them on Twitter and will begin firing tweet after tweet making their holier-than-thou position clear.

They will begin to think that there is a definite divide between 'us' (fabulous important tweeters) and 'them' (muggles). Or begin to think they are friends with a number of TV presenters whom they have spoken to online.

They will think people will miss them if they leave Twitter. In fact, according to Dent, people will just read other people's tweets instead. Almost everyone will think the disappeared tweeter is on holidays or will not notice that they have vanished at all. Dent, for all her humorous observations about Twitter, is clearly a massive fan of the medium.



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She writes: "Twitter finally obliterated the notion that a 'trusted news source' is an established brand like Sky, CNN, BBC, etc -- an official reporter with great teeth and a roving mic delivering sage sound bites an hour after an event happened. Damn that. News is breaking on Twitter every minute of the day. Revolution, coup, riot, scandal, resignation, we hear if there first."

Leaving Twitter is difficult to do, claims Dent, saying: "It's very much like trying to leave a party before midnight by stopping the music and asking everyone where your coat is and for the number of a good minicab firm.

"People will try everything to stop you going. 'Are you tired, have another drink, you don't need to go, just have a soft drink, come and dance, do you want drugs, we're getting a taxi later . . .' Just people imploring you not to go as they want you to be like them and spend 16 hours a day staring at Twitter.com."

Dent should know, as she has tried to leave Twitter 117 times!

How To Leave Twitter; My Time as Queen of the Universe, by Grace Dent, published by Faber and Faber, price €10.55


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