What's all this then?

I tweet too much. So I needed somewhere else to start storing all the words. This is it. Think of it as the external hard drive for my thoughts.

I don't have an obesssion, a dream, a fixation or a hook, so don't be expecting a focus here. It's like great big lumps of my twitterings. You may see teaching stuff, rants, maternal anxiety and occasional sojourns away from reality.

Anyway, I like a nice chat so we should talk. By we, I of course mean me...

Monday, 2 January 2012

In real life...

In memory of @littlemunchkin

One of the things that makes me itchy on twitter is when people say it’s not real. It’s only twitter. It’s not real.

It makes me uncomfortable because that’s one step away from saying all the people on there aren’t real. And if people aren’t real to us then we can treat them how we like, can’t we? It doesn’t matter. It’s not real.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that reality is subjective. I can cheerfully spend days inside my own head, planning a post-apocalyptic commune or practising my oscar acceptance speech. Soap Stars who have their character name yelled at them know about the flexible borders of reality, so do kids who spend hours being a dinosaur or a rice pop. Or is it just my kids? Twitter can let you head off into realms of glorious nonsense too, re-writing Waterloo Road or discussing the merits of a poached pear (none). But the people you talk all this crap to are real.

Each tweet is a beautiful little glimpse into their mind. Each dinner announcement, each gripe about colleagues, each cleverly crafted gag or weepy moment comes from a real person doing real things in their real life. But we forget this easily.

It comes home to us sometimes. When we meet a twitterer and discover they’re just the same off screen, but in 3 dimensions, possibly more
, and they talk in longer bursts. Or, as happened to many of us this week, when we lose someone.

This week Lucy, who we all knew as @littlemunchkin, died. And it was a bloody horrible shock. It feels odd to talk about the loss in twitter terms, but that doesn’t make it less real. You realise that you’ll never see that person crop up in your timeline again, you’ll never laugh at their
tweet or chat about trivial stuff. And that produces grief that is real.

I never knew Lucy outside of twitter, but I knew her there for nearly three years. She was warm, caring, hugely positive and funny. After talking with her, you felt better about the world. She often said she wanted to be a teacher, and a few tweets later I would go away believing that my job teaching was as rewarding as she said it was. She made people happier.

Lucy was the first person I talked to on twitter. I found her through a RT of Neil Gaiman’s. She had sent him a link to Pimp That Snack. It was a photo of a giant custard cream. How can you not like someone who tweets pictures of humungous biscuits? I followed her instantly and plucked up the courage to chat. A few days later, my class at school were having a ball making giant fruit pastilles, thanks to my inspiration from Lucy. 

Over the next couple of years, Lucy was an enthusiastic supporter of my unusual cooking ventures, like the cream egg baked in a cake. She was a keen cook herself, sharing her own experimental recipes on her blog. Had I had a less warm introduction to twitter, I might have missed out on a lot. Her tweets were so enthusiastic and vital that, despite knowing how long she had been ill, it didn’t seem possible that her illness would win. I didn’t see the signs in her last few tweets, I found the news hard to believe.

What do you do with twitter loss? Well, firstly you accept it’s real. As real as the person you won’t be seeing around any more. As real as an illness like anorexia that not enough people take seriously.  Then you grieve. In real life.

So let’s not say twitter isn’t real. Because that belittles all the wonderful people on there who you share space with, who let you into their worlds for a bit, and with people like Lucy, that’s a real privilege.

Twitter is fun, it’s silly and it’s not usually 100% located in reality. But the people on there are real people, and you can really lose them. And it’s really sad. So let’s not take these little interactions with real people for granted or dismiss them, especially when they’re as lovely as @littlemunchkin.

It seemed appropriate to me to donate to b-eat, a charity Lucy supported.


  1. What a lovely tribute to Lucy. You were one of the first people I talked to on Twitter and I would have met you IRL if bloody cancer had not come along. I still want to meet you IRL, but until I can, you are a great companion on Twitter.

  2. this is lovely. I went to school with lucy and was so proud of how she fought and spoke about her illness on twitter. She was very brave and it makes me glad to know she didn't just move me but moved people across the whole spectrum of the internet. I'm going to her funeral on Wednesday and when I'm sad I'll think of this blog and remember all the other people who can't be there but will miss her too.

  3. Thank you, Anonymous person for your kind comments. It's hard to know what to say when you never met someone in real life, I'm glad this reflects the Lucy you knew. Online, she was such a great person to be around. There are lots of people who won't be at her funeral who will want to remember her, thank you for telling me when it is; I'll light a candle.


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