I was all set for a really sad day yesterday. It was the first anniversary of my dad’s death. Anyone would be sad. I was thinking about him, and it was getting me down. Which isn’t in my nature as such, but what can you expect? I wanted to honour his memory in some way, so I did what is becoming natural to me and put my thoughts into a post on this blog. Now, my blog isn’t that great (yet!). It’s just my random thoughts, and mostly about politics which is one of my passions but not everyone’s cup of tea. I basically spend a lot of time writing about what a complete and utter tool I think David Cameron is. I’ve only been writing since new year, and I’m not a celebrity (except in a couple of bars in Newcastle where I’ve gotten drunk enough to do my party trick). Consequently, I was getting somewhere between 10 and 30 people looking with 4 or 5 returning from a previous visit. I like those 10 to 30 people. They have excellent taste in blogs, especially the 4 or 5 who come back for seconds. Plus they all look lovely today!
But my dad deserved more readers. And, Dear Reader, you all deserved to know about my dad. It enriches your life. Whether you want it or not. So instead of following my usual habit of putting the title and link of a new blogpost on twitter a couple of times, I went on a bit of a campaign. I basically tweeted it all day long. I’m sorry to anyone who got sick of those tweets. Really I am. But it had an effect. Lots of people read my memorial to my dad, forwarded the link to friends, and sent me some really lovely comments and feedback. Some short and sweet, some supportive, some emotional. I particularly liked the ones from people who had also lost a parent and had taken comfort from my words, or recognised their own experiences in what I said.
By the late afternoon, I’d had 40 or so people read my post which was great and the handful of tweets cheered me up a bit. And then, something happened. It was Sarah Brown, the Prime Minister’s wife and Twitter star. She tweeted a link to my post saying: “this is just a lovely blog in memory of a much loved dad”. She has a lot of influence on people who follow her tweets, because the reader stats went from 40ish to 150ish in 10 minutes. And a lot of them started to send me messages and add me to their twitter. And it just kept going up and up. By midnight, this blog had had 438 unique visitors. And a lot of you had said you were coming back. Which seems to be true according to this morning’s numbers so far. Of course, now I’m under pressure to write something witty and interesting for you all to read.
I’ve written here previously about the power of Twitter and other social networks, but I think it came home to me on a more personal level yesterday. It’s amazing how a simple website like Twitter can put people in touch. I share tweets every day with people all over the world. People I’ve never met, but who share interests, passions and humour with me here online. Twitter makes it easier to
stalk follow celebrities like Stephen Fry, Eddie Izzard, or Kylie Minogue. It makes it easier for politicians to communicate with constituents, and activists to campaign on issues. It’s fantastic for discussing events as they happen, whether that’s breaking news in Iran or an episode of Glee. It turns out it’s pretty great at getting a blog read. But what I think it’s best at is making personal contact with ordinary people. Sharing everyday occurences and emotions, from I lost my keys to I lost my dad. And it’s superb at showing us the humanity in people as we reach out to one another. Thank you all for making me smile, making me laugh, making me cry, and for making my day a little better.