Seven years ago, I swore that if I ever started tweeting, people could buy me some millet and a box of Trill. Twitter? Nope. Not for me, thanks. Utterly pointless.
Fast forward a year and heaven help me (and the poor sods who follow me!), I signed up, ostensibly to leave some comments on the sterling work a British actor had been producing in a soap opera. That was to be the extent of my tweeting. Six years, 600 followers and 27,000 tweets later.. Didn't quite work out as planned, but there you go..
In that six years I've tweeted about everything imaginable. Atheism, religion, evolutionary biology, politics, Laurel and Hardy, Heavy Metal, and, more recently, Doctor Who, in which I seem to have found my "niche".
What I didn't anticipate was the people I would find myself interacting with. I've seen, and railed against, some of the ugliest aspects of human nature. Racism, homophobia, bigotry, sexism.. you make it, I've probably chewed someone's ear off for doing it. I've had some delightfully hateful responses from some, even to the level of death threats. I've had the honour of being blocked by some of the most bilious blowhards imaginable, from Ann Coulter, Nick Griffin, Bryan Fischer, Anjem Choudary, Tommy Robinson and plenty more of their ilk. I consider it a badge of honour! Hell, I've even managed to acquire my own, personal stalker, although that isn't much of a claim, as the person in question seems to take pleasure in stalking anyone and everyone with whom he disagrees with, and particularly those who, inevitably, end up blocking him.
But, and here's the point of this post, I've also seen the very best of people. I've become friends with many of you. Some of those friendships have formed in unlikely circumstances, with people I wouldn't have imagined as friends a few years ago. Some friendships have been forged from mutual interests, such as Doctor Who, and some, I can't even recall how they began.
Two years ago, as most of you know, I was diagnosed with testicular cancer. The support I received from people on Twitter was extraordinary. My journey.. my experiences with such a pernicious disease, was made so much easier with YOUR support. For that, you all have my undying gratitude and thanks.
Some followers come and go, and that's fine. We aren't going to hit it off with everyone. But there is a group of people, from varying backgrounds, with different interests, with whom I've formed friendships which will, I hope, last for many years. Some are casual friendships, some go beyond the confines of Twitter. There are one or two with whom I've formed very close friendships, away from Twitter, while will almost certainly last a lifetime. You all know who you are. I'm not going to name names, as each person I talk to already knows how much I value their support, and aside from anything else, I would, unintentionally and undoubtedly, forget to mention at least one person, because I have a brain like a sieve! Also, a couple of the friendships I've formed are with people who are, shall we say, "in the public eye", and I'm not big on name-dropping either.
Regardless of how deep our friendships run, how well we know each other, or how often we interact, each and every one of you is equally valued, not as followers, but as friends. I received some wonderful comments last night from a number of people, which spurred this post. I don't really have much in the way of an ego to stroke, and don't really know how to react to compliments, except to say thank you. So, for all those who have been so kind, so positive, so supportive, I can only reiterate those thanks, repay them, and your friendships in kind, and wish us ALL many more years of banter, chats, "deep and meaningfuls", respectful disagreements (for, as with any friendship, they are inevitable; how we handle them defines us), and the sure and certain knowledge that between us, we have people on whom we can lean in dark times and laugh with in the good.
You all know who you are. And to each of you, thank you. Simply that. Thank you. I appreciate your support. I value your friendship. I respect your opinions, and enjoy hearing them, even when I disagree. Just.. Thank you.
See you on the Twittersphere!