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PARENTAL ADVISORY – WARNING: CONTAINS DRUG REFERENCES

We changed our Employee Assistance Provider (EAP) service this week. You know, the companies that you employ so that if your employees are coming apart they can help put them back together again. I noted with interest that they provide a service for dealing with addictions. I never really got the whole addict thing. I’ve heard writers talk about being addicted to exercise for example (#Lucykellaway). I try and exercise and have never felt that endorphin rush that apparently kicks in during a hard work-out that spurs you on such that next minute you find yourself with a perfect 6 pack. I have a wager on the horses from time to time and admit that while it’s nice to see my horse come in I’ve generally put so little on it that either way it doesn’t matter much. I’ve never, for example, shouted out at the top of my voice from the members stand extolling my horse and jockey to do better as they are thrashing up the straight. As far as alcohol goes if I start to imbibe too much a little voice reminds me how I might feel in the morning if I keep going, so I naturally take it easy thereafter.

So it’s something of a shock to the system to now find myself an addict. At first I was secretly and guiltily pleased. I felt that little frisson one must feel when they are out on the pavement having a sneaky cigarette with some of the other recalcitrants from the work team. Conspirators one and all. No squares here as we look death in the face and cough. But then I realised it was getting bad. It is starting to affect my work life and my home life for that matter.

At an “AA’ meeting I’d be standing and saying. “hello my name is Phil and I’m addicted to Twitter”. Sure I blog and do the social media thing but at times it has a sense of chore about it. Writing a blog in work time doesn’t feel like cheating my employer – more like contributing to raise the company profile in some vaguely connected way. With Twitter though its a whole different ball of wax. I am checking Twitter first thing in the morning and last thing at night and at all stages in between. My flirtation with Twitter has an analogue in the whole downward spiral of drug taking. When I started to tweet I was on a pretty mild form of marijuana. So light was my ‘high’ that I wondered what all the fuss was about. And then the fateful event happened. Up to this point my tweets went purely into the ether untouched and unread by anyone. Sure I thought they were sassy and acerbic but clearly no-one else did. Then I stumbled by mistake onto a bag of free-base cocaine and I haven’t been the same since. I went viral. Not your common or garden viral either. I’m talking your full on bird-flu style viral.

I heard Bono refer to Australia’s dismal response to Ebola as un-Australian. Well that got me because as an Irishman (among my other nationalities) I don’t want my fellow countrymen slagging off another country. Believe me we have enough problems of our own to be dealing with. There’s a few unmarked graves with un-wed mums and babies in them that might need our attention. Anyway I decided to respond into the ether with a mention that our Ebola response in Australia was akin to the moving of a musical publishing house from Ireland offshore to avoid the high rates of tax – which we need right now to solve the parlous state of the Republic’s economy. Having had my momentary rant I put my phone back in my pocket and went about my business. Next thing my phone is pinging like …well like it’s never pinged before.  I didn’t count on the dislike many have of Bono.I apparently had hit a raw nerve..I was mainlining. Now that is a buzz, knowing that your opinion, as facile and truncated as it is, is touching other people to the extent that they want to do something with it. Then my headlong immersion into the twittersphere began.

It’s like a gift that keeps on giving or, perhaps put another way, like a spicy meal repeating on you. After a day it calmed down and then the long slow withdrawal. I figured at this stage that Twitter is less like a drug and more like developing an app. You might get lucky once but you can’t go viral twice. In fact even trying to go viral to me sounds a bit like trying too hard to be popular. You should just let things be and see what happens. I did notice a change in my behaviour though over the next few days. I am an avid news watcher and listener especially world news and have a healthy interest in international geo-politics. So listening to the BBC World Service, or ABC Radio National is not a new thing for me. However I found myself listening to it for little tweet treats that I might be able to send out into the ether again to get my next fix. Last week I heard that the leader of the opposition in Malaysia was awaiting the verdict on alleged trumped up charges that could see him back in prison and effectively blunt the opposition. Given Australia resides in the backyard of Asia this is important. In my tweet I did an @Anwar Ibrahim which meant he would receive a copy of my tweet. Within ten minutes the leader of the opposition in Malaysia had picked my tweet up and re-tweeted to all his followers. Now many days later I am still getting tweets on that subject. In the immediate aftermath of Ibrahim’s re-tweets my phone went into meltdown. That wasn’t cocaine that was pure and simple Heisenberg blue.

So yes I’m hooked. And now I’m like an addict looking for my stash. I even tweeted what I thought was a snappy few lines to and about the Apple CEO. No response. So I did what many addicts do. I went for a cheap fix. I did a breastfeeding tweet. I know what you’re thinking – easy yards. Well apparently not. I’m having to re-think my approach. I need my phone pinging in my pocket. I don’t feel fulfilled without it. I even watched The Chef again to see if that kid could teach me a few tricks.

As things stand I’m on a kind of methadone with a few random tweets and re-tweets keeping me shielded from the worst aspects of withdrawal. Now if only Bono could get himself arrested in Malaysia and I could straight back on the horse.