Helen Martin: He’s whispering tweet nothings

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ON any given day in the office I can look round to discover a quarter to a third of my colleagues on Twitter or Facebook. This, they tell me, is work, which it is because we’re in the communication business and that’s how people communicate now.

In a newspaper galaxy far away and a long time ago before the internet and e-mail was invented, we had phones, typewriters and actually had to speak to people face to face. Without even a dictaphone, let alone a digital recorder, we were forced to learn shorthand.

I can imagine youngsters rolling about laughing at the absurdity of it just as the Mash aliens used to scoff at potatoes (Mash was instant, dehydrated . . . . oh, forget it. You had to be there).

Himself is no spring chicken. He’s not so hot at technology either. But he has taken to the Twittersphere and Bookface like a duck to water, unlike me. I resigned from Facebook the very first time I entered into a discussion with another “user” when the penny dropped that I’d dropped into Troll-land.

When I tried to build my profile on Twitter or FB, can’t remember which, I was given a strange moniker like “Helen Martin196yuy043tj00” which neither I nor anyone else could remember or recognise and, since I didn’t know how to change it, I remained silent in suspended-social-network-animation. Despite that, I have a few followers which just goes to show how nuts it all is.

Himself and I don’t talk as much as we once did. He wakes at 6.30am, after which he is to be found with his head under the downie and a strange blue glow escaping through gaps in the bed linen round his ears. At the other end of the day, the last thing he says “good-night” to isn’t me, it’s his iPad (he doesn’t actually say the words – he’s not that bad – but he reluctantly turns it off and places it gently on his bedside table).

If I’m driving and my phone “pings”, it’s too bad. I’ll check it when my journey’s over. Himself will pull over and stop to read it, or sometimes even risk arrest by checking his tweets at traffic lights.

Reading this back now it sounds as if he’s having an affair but I trust him – and we occasionally look at his Facetweets together so, no, I don’t think that’s the problem.

Luckily, he plays tennis, golf, goes to the gym and has an allotment, all of which are difficult to do while holding a tablet.

Nor does he twit-tweet, telling the world what he had for breakfast, where he buys his socks, or that he’s on the number 24 bus. What kind of egomaniac thinks anyone else cares about the minutiae of their mundane existence?

Young people now automatically reach for their phones in a queue, on the bus, in a restaurant, even when they are out with each other. They may be sitting in a group in the sun but they are all individually twittering with other people. Or are they? Perhaps they are all twittering together online and find flexing their vocal chords is too much effort?

When they do talk on their mobiles, that conversation takes precedence over any other human interaction, be it buying in a shop, paying a bus fare, or shouting “Fire!”

Einstein said:”I fear the day technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.”

Not quite yet, Albert, but soon perhaps.

Rich and poor divide is akin to third world

UK banks and credit card firms have been selling insurance against fraudulent transactions on cards to two million UK customers.

Since banks are legally obliged to refund fraudulent payments to customers anyway, they were simply piling one fraud on top of another.

Call it mis-selling or a con trick, but anyone else would have been jailed. Banks are untouchable and the crime will be wiped as long as they pay compensation.

Meanwhile, government figures claim the UK is en route to be the best performing country in the developed world, ahead of the United States, Canada, Japan, France, Germany and Italy, having had its strongest year since the financial crash began. Yet more and more people have to use food banks.

And to think we used to pity third world countries in which the small band of leaders, financiers and upper classes drove round in gold-plated Rolls Royce cars, amassing their wealth with impunity while the starving, swindled population relied on charity to survive.

Haven and hell for Trident’s Welsh transfer

DEFENCE officials in London are working on plans to shift Trident from the Clyde in anticipation of an eventual break-up of the UK – which seems a bit defeatist of them, but I won’t argue.

The English don’t want the nuclear fleet in their backyard or waters any more than we do. So it’s no surprise the envisaged new home, should it be necessary, is Milford Haven, or elsewhere in Wales. The only shock may be that the Welsh are delighted at the prospect. You have to have seen Milford Haven to understand how even Trident is an improvement.