Friday, 17 February 2012

To Tweet or not to Tweet - Is that the question?

To Tweet or not to Tweet - Is that the question? Depends on the context of the question.

I like many people use twitter both for obtaining information and fun. Whether it is a quick quip about where we are heading, getting local transport updates or just generally chatting openly with friends. You could liken it to chatting in the corner shop and yes there are still some left in this country of ours luckily.

The key think is that anyone and everyone no matter age, creed, organisation etc can use the power of twitter to spread news and information and in real time without censorship and just say what we think. Ok sometimes we may say something which can be mis-construed or understood in a different way to what we meant. However we can be on the peripheral of a conversation and not pick all the points up when we ask or respond to something that was said.

Most of you know that many of the public transport companies now use twitter to impart information fast to their customers and anyone who is interested. I like many thousands follow our local rail company twitter http:\\www.twitter.com\londonmidland and am a regular traveller on their services.

Last Saturday night I was following their twitter feed as their had been a fatality with someone jumping in front of a Cross Country train to Plymouth which inevitably led to delays and suspension of services on the line. And the Plymouth train passengers being disembarked at Selly Oak to allow the train and driver to be dealt with.

Its a times like this that information is vital to passengers and as ever  London Midland gave relevant info out and answered questions personally aimed at them. The feed was going so fast like Hilda Ogden talked in Coronation street. One passenger asked about the delays and whether they should go to the pub and wait for the line to be re-opened. Sensible question and sensible answer given since it would be an hour or so until line re-opened. At the same time there were a few people who were basically horrible and crude and blaming London Midland for the problem even though it was clear it wasn't if they had bothered to read the other tweets coming through.  But as they were, should I say just ordinary people being a pain in the rear they did have a polite answer and not ignored. One of the twitters said they thought that London Midland and Network Rail should be in a position to stop people jumping in front of trains.

I was somewhat surprised to see the Headlines from the Birmingham Evening Mail (and reproduced by the Telegraph - para by para) later in week criticizing London  Midland about the "go to a pub" message which was taken totally out of context and that Charities such as the excellent "Samaritans" were effectively up in arms over the comments made on the London Midland Twitter feed. 

I'm all for journalists following up stories they see on twitter but in so many cases they don't get all the facts and then they print stories out of context. Or a local person breaks a story on twitter then a few days later it appears in the local paper as their own scoop as if they have actually visited the scene etc. Isn't it time journalists went back to their roots and checked out the full facts first. Then maybe not as they wouldn't have as many stories with sensational headlines

AS to London Midland and the rest of the Train Operating companies using twitter to impart information, carry on being human and personal. Its what the majority of the customers want and look for and it would be a sad world now if it stopped.