Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Devouring Books: How to Leave Twitter by Grace Dent

I sort of knew of Grace Dent a little before I read this book as a woman who sometimes writes stuff in magazines (I think she has a column in British Marie Claire, but don't quote me on it) and I'd heard about this book and thought it might be a useful thing for me to read because of my twitter... if not addiction, then slight dependence. Now that I've read How to Leave Twitter, I've decided 2 things:
1) I don't have to leave Twitter because I don't really have the problems outlined in the book, and, to be honest, Dent has a far bigger twitter problem than me (although I do still suffer from Desktop Multi-Application Spiralling Circle of Hell Syndrome!), and
2) I completely love Grace Dent!

I mean, seriously love her. Because, much as I appreciated the analysis of all the little twitter foibles, and the characterisation of the different twitter personalities, without Dent's witty and hilarious observations, this book could have been really dry and boring. It manages to be so fabulous because Dent herself is a great writer- so so funny and cutting, and yet not really mean at all (unless I'm just immune to the mean because my own sense of humour can be like that... But I really think she manages to just be funny and not cruel!), and if I could write as well as her, I would definitely have some kind of paid writing job going on. Obviously. Because I'd be Grace Dent.

Anyway... Dent basically goes through the stages of twitter, starting with twitter denial ('oh no, I don't want to join twitter, it's for losers!') moving swiftly on to full blown addiction, where "you wake up in the morning and check twitter before checking whether your kids have been stolen in the night by raiders", and have to face the basic twitter archetypes (celebrity who brags about their life, person who makes their life sound more interesting than it actually is etc etc), and then moves onto the awkward business of unfollowing people, and justifications for doing so, and finally gives some precious advice on how to leave twitter (at the time of writing, Grace Dent is still on twitter, and in fact tweeted 15 minutes ago. So I don't know how closely you want to follow her advice if you want to leave twitter...)

But basically, it's just awesome and funny and you should really really read it even if you don't want to leave twitter (but probably not if you've never been on twitter because you will have not a clue what she's talking about). My favourite observation about twitter? "It's a form of 'going out' for the tremendously sociable who, in truth, can't be arsed to leave the house." So so true. I can completely use twitter as justification for staying in because I'm still 'being sociable'- I am, in fact, talking to my very good twitter friends in Australia and the US- it's amazing! Another reason to love Dent is that she says this: "To my mind there is a scene in Friends which can explain every emotion known to man." This is SO TRUE! I am forever using examples from Friends in my everyday life, with the encyclopaedic knowledge I have of the programme, so I'm always saying 'this is like the time Joey and Phoebe...' and so on. If I'm with someone who has never seen Friends I'm a tiny bit stuck, because it forms, I swear, about 90% of my conversational skills. Also I'm a bit stuck because I don't know why I am with such a person! But anyway...

This book did, as well as entertaining me enough to read it in a day, provide me with great justification as to why I'm allowed to stay on twitter. The fact is, using Dent as a benchpost, I'm a much more sensible twitter user than she is. I only follow 149 people (right now!) and most of those are other bloggers, newspapers, interesting celebrities and book related things. What I essentially use twitter for is to find links to interesting things I can read on the internet, rather than competitively trying to find new followers for no real reason, meaning that I fall well short of the pitfalls of having 3,000 followers which, apparently, makes one feel like they're queen of the Universe. I'm ok with just being queen in my own brain, and not spending my entire life on twitter. I guess using twitter in this way shuts off a lot of amazing people in the world to me, but that's sort of ok- I can deal with not knowing who they are. Yet.

So, twitter's where it's at everyone. As Grace Dent says, "Facebook feels like having a part-time admin job at the National Institute of Ass-hats," and, let's face it, is full of people you know but wish you didn't. Twitter, on the other hand, allows you to find your interest sharing internet soulmates, who you probably have a lot more in common with than people you have once met in your life. This book, also, is where it's at. Definitely go and buy it, and look out for this one section on feminism and twitter that couldn't help but rock my socks off (and confirm some of my suspicions about the women's magazine industry). What more can I say? Off you go!


  1. LOL I make Friends references ALL THE TIME. Sadly it's usually to my boyfriend who's only seen a couple episodes and says he hates the show (but usually laughs at my reference).

    This book does sound fun. I can admit I love Twitter, but I'm not addicted - there are plenty of days when I'm just too lazy / busy to check it. If I can find this at the library I'll definitely take a peek at it :)

  2. Love this review. And totally must find this book to read.

  3. This sounds hilarious! I love her description of Facebook vs Twitter. I don't think I'm addicted to Twitter and I don't want to leave it but I do want to see what she says about the whole thing. Will have to check this out