Social media

Alan Titchmarsh wrote a very revealing article last Sunday in the Telegraph – he doesn’t approve of social media – I found out about it because someone, somewhat ironically, tweeted a link.

The article is here

He writes that he doesn’t see the point in penning “140 characters every half-hour to a faceless group of folk I don’t know.” This is interesting because it gives an insight into how Alan thinks. Alan is, I imagine, a very canny businessman. Why tweet 140 characters free when you can be paid for writing an article for the Telegraph. Indeed. The idea that one should Tweet every half hour seems to have been picked up from the ‘celebrity’ people he mixes with or perhaps has read about and do you know, I really don’t think I would ever take people who work in the media as in any way typical; of anything…well except people who work in the media. And then we have the ‘faceless’ people. Presumably the ‘faceless’ people on Twitter are different from those many more “folk I don’t know” who have read his Telegraph articles or watched his TV programmes for years. Hmmm, this is beginning to look like holding an opinion for the sake of writing an article.

I think it’s a meant to be a light hearted ‘opinion’ piece in which Alan makes broad generalizations so he can say all this computer stuff is not good for you – get out more.

Gratuitous pretty picture break

Gratuitous pretty picture break

From my perspective it reads as someone who is healthy, wealthy, with his own family, and a successful job “I just don’t have the time” almost belittling those who aren’t and who use social media as a way of contact with the world.

I can’t always afford to visit flower shows, but I can follow people who will Tweet photos for me to see. Free. The other day a Scottish botanist visiting Peru (to collect Begonia species) tweeted a photo of a Fuchsia flower he’d found and asked his followers if anyone knew which species it was; I was able to link him to a Fuchsia enthusiast’s website in America suggesting a name for the species and all three of us were able to converse about it over a couple of days: Can’t do that so easily with pen and paper Alan. And I’m learning lots on Twitter about what some of our finest horticulturists do every day, how great gardens are maintained, and discovering exciting new plants available from UK nurseries…all at the touch of a button. Charming, knowledgeable people willing to encourage and help where they can – not the “group of people whose ability to concentrate on one thing, and to absorb its nuances to the exclusion of all else, is all but absent” that Alan sees from his journalistic research (he doesn’t tweet). And if I’m too ill to chat, then I can just read, I don’t have to interact. 

What really matters is the enjoyment you get from the people you communicate with; how you to talk to them, be it face to face or a through a Tweet, is irrelevant. What a shame Alan’s ‘busy life’ hasn’t made him aware of that.

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6 Responses to Social media

  1. I don’t think it would be a stretch to say that I’ve learned 1000 times more from the Twitter gardening community than I ever did from one of Alan’s shows. In no other place (virtual or not) can you experience the daily sharing of knowledge with such an incredible range of people from all walks of the horticultural world.

    Love the gratuitous pretty picture break

  2. You make a good point. I haven’t read his article and probably won’t but I do think that there’s a more than bit of arrogance in his haven’t got time stance. We all have busy lives and yet we all manage to find time for those things we enjoy.

  3. Karen Gimson says:

    Times are changing. We no longer need the celebrity gardener. Social media is a threat to people like Alan Titchmarsh. We can learn so much more from the people who actually make a living out of growing and gardening. And thank goodness they are generous enough to share info and advice- for free.

  4. Susan says:

    Social media provides a great platform for botanists to share photos. Plants are beautiful and cameras have made it much easier to take good close-ups. I love seeing unusual morphologies from Patagonian Flowers on twitter, learning about filmy ferns from dispatches from a foray in Wales, and following the progress of an urban garden in LA all in the same week. I’ve been recovering from foot surgery all summer and I’ve enjoyed sharing fellow botanists discoveries as they hike more locally on my state’s native plant Facebook group. I can imagine that if my disability was a more permanent situation, the opportunity to keep up with the seasonal events of my beloved local flora would be even more treasured.

  5. I agree 100% with you Martin. Twitter is a tool and like any tool can be used wisely or otherwise. I too have learned a lot from some very clever people, the likes of which I wouldn’t normally come into contact with, often from a different country, sometimes a different (intellectual) universe. They are more often than not generous with their knowledge. Not only this I have made (albeit virtually) new friends. Now weigh that all up with the mindless witter ….. no I will not sink to that level! Each to his own, my life has been enhanced by social media as I believe many others have. Long may it continue.

  6. Pingback: The Middle-Sized Garden - » Why Twitter has become THE social media home for gardeners…

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