I make no secret of my love for Twitter. Nor my love for the news; wanting to know what is going on in the world several times a day.
This week it feels as though Twitter has taken a real pounding in the press in a way that telephone companies have never taken a pounding for allowing hoax or abusive phone calls to be made (but that is a whole different story). That it is Twitter’s fault that idiots are being idiots. That men who think it is acceptable to be abusive and threatening to women are not to blame, but that Twitter is. As I say, though, that is a whole different story
And I felt as though I needed to defended Twitter a little. To show why I love it and why I stick too fingers up to the A N Wilsons of the world when they say it is pointless and moronic.
Yesterday morning, as usual, my alarm went off at 6.45am. Yes, it may be the summer holidays and there is no school run but E had physio at 9am and that means I need to be up and organised. Morning routine is that the alarm on my phone goes off, and without raising my head off the pillow I grab the phone off the bedside table. Glasses on and then I look through the notifications of emails (four accounts), Facebook, and then Twitter. Twitter last as it is the most time consuming and I can still be scrolling through and catching up, ten minutes later.
As I turned off the alarm yesterday I got a text from J, literally at the same time. I have been pouncing on his texts since he went to Kenya three weeks ago as I want to reply before he buries his phone in his rucksack again. This is what came through at 06.45 yesterday morning:
It took me a minute for that to sink in. Nairobi airport. Where J and the team he is with are flying from on Sunday. Having been in Kenya for a month this is the home stretch. The itinerary says they arrive in Mombassa tomorrow and then go to Nairobi on Saturday to fly home on Sunday. It says it in black and white. Flying out of Nairobi. This can’t be happening.
I immediately needed more info. When he says “burnt down” he can’t mean that, surely?
What did this mean for the trip? What was going on?
I immediately sat up and took to Twitter. In the search facility I simply typed in “Nairobi airport” and there I found a stream of Tweets from people, people in Kenya, airlines, local reporters, news companies. Reporting on what had happened, Tweeting pics.
And also, just as importantly, telling me what hadn’t happened. This was not a terrorist act. The country was not on lock down. There was no reason to panic. It was simply a fire at an airport. Well I say simply, it is far from that but I could see, instantly, that nobody was hurt, there were no fatalities and there was no suggestion of any danger to anybody in Kenya as a whole.
I had the news I needed. Throughout yesterday I could check Twitter and see what was happening. The airport was shut. Flights diverted. Airport re-opening for cargo. It was all there in front of me at the click of a button.
Where were UK TV news agencies? Reporting on a load of stuff I didn’t really care about. That had no relevance to me (hell, on the BBC news at lunchtime they didnt even mention that a large section of Herne Hill woke up to 3ft of water after a main burst).
As for print organisations, it will be in the papers today but what relevance is it then? Airport was closed, airport is now open partially,. It is old news. It happened 24 hours ago. That is a long time in the world of news. Yes newspapers have a comment section or columns written about opinions, but aren’t blogs the same?
As much as I love news, you won’t find me reading a printed paper anymore.