Thursday, 10 March 2011

The One Where I Could Share A Kebab With Dido

Well gosh my giddy aunt, what a fuss!

"Twit Relief" isn't even a day old, yet already it's caused so much commotion and uproar on Twitter. For those not on the social networking site, and are perhaps unaware of what I'm talking about, let me guide you through this.

We are in Comic Relief territory, with Red Nose Day itself coming up next Friday (Important Ewar note! I hope to be live-blogging the event. Make sure to set your alarms and join me for that) so charity fund-raising and shenanigans are on-going. Now the good people at Comic Relief wanted to do something a bit special, a bit more interesting than getting Lenny Henry to run a marathon in a dog costume, or John Barrowman to take a bath in baked beans. So they came up with "Twit Relief".

The premise of it is this: Comic Relief have recruited over 100 "famous" people (I hate that phrase and I'll touch on that later) and put them up on eBay listings with the public allowed to bid on them. Winning bids go to the charity, obviously. The main crux of the matter was Twitter-based. The chosen "famous" person would 'follow' the auction winner on Twitter, would 're-tweet' them and talk to them on there. That was good, but a bit hollow, so they've also put up various other goodies and prizes for the winner - I'll list a few in a minute, some are genuinely awesome.

It's all for charity, and it's just a bit of silliness yet Twitter has gone slightly potty over this today. I thought this would be a better blog entry if I kept my opinion out of it initially, and presented some opinions from supporters and critics. So, here's a selection:

Got too much cash? Crave the empty validation of forcing a minor celebrity to read your mooings? #twitrelief: parting fools and their money. (@ViveLeSteve)

#twitrelief will do nothing but force those celebs who ignore your messages anyway, to reply once and then forget you exist. (@Orbette)

Isn't the #twitrelief outcry a touch hypocritical? Let those who have never followed a celebrity cast the first stone.. (@McGuireDavid)

It's the self-important, self-serving nature of the people doing it that grates. (@Philaldo9)

Those complaining about #twitrelief, you know it's for charity, right? Clean water programs, that kind of thing? (@Glinner)

Thanks for the #twitrelief info. Sounds awful. Awfulness for charity. (@td_ward)

Well hot damn! Every tweet I read on this and every opinion I take in just makes my mind even more muddled. I acknowledge every tweet above, and I can certainly see what the critics are saying. You see, this doesn't look great. I mentioned earlier how I hated the phrase "a famous person". Because who is famous? Someone might get a degree in Broadcasting, put on a suit, walk to BBC Studios and present a live gameshow/chat show/panel show. Does that make them somehow better than you or I? Not really, in my opinion. It means they have a job in the public eye.

I think in relation to Twitter, this is even more interesting. When I load up my Twitter program called Tweetdeck, it always strikes me how the people I care about, the people I'm really interested in, the people who's tweets I always read and look forward to reading, are the so called riff-raff, the people who aren't famous. I follow about 600 people, and I follow "famous people" (eurgh) and "non-famous people" (eurgh) but I guarantee you it's the latter that are more interesting. If someone put a gun to my head and asked me to 'unfollow' half of those 600, and leave me with 300, I wouldn't unfollow @Vicky1978, @PBC13, @benjaminjudge, @Sidekick28, @spotify_tapes (well, maybe I would), @MFoxx2 and SO MANY others I could name. It'd be Kim Kardashian, it'd be Kylie Minogue, it'd be Charlie Sheen. Oh, they're famous, but they're fucking boring/insane.

For me, what I love about Twitter isn't the latter. It's the former - making new friends, talking to people I wouldn't have ever met otherwise and enjoying the creativity of others. I've sent Christmas cards to people I like on Twitter, which was pretty cool. All of this is why I find the whole "Winner of this auction will have Boy George following them!!" a bit shit. A) So what, and B) He was in an 80s band who did a few catchy songs but that's it. He's not a super-human. My boy "G" was right in his tweet which you see above - what an awfully hollow, empty "validation".

The list hasn't been finalised yet - they seem to be putting one auction an hour up on this site - but there are so many people I like taking part. Christian O'Connell, Richard Curtis, Nick Frost, Miranda Hart, Alexander Armstrong, Chris Addison, Krishnan Guru Murphy, Graham Linehan, Emma Kennedy, Marcus Brigstocke and others. These are good people! And Linehan's tweet is relevant - it's for charity, it raises serious money, these guys are doing what they can. And some of the prizes ARE great - a walk-on extra part in Curtis's next film, an actual bloody Morph(!), rugby coaching session with Martin Corry, signed IT Crowd script, passes to Silverstone and many more. There's something for everyone.

All of which leads me to feel even more confused than I did at the start of this blog post. So it's over to you - this a good idea, or patronising and ill-thought out?