Thursday, 15 September 2011

Book review: How To Leave Twitter by Grace Dent

My edition: Paperback, published in 2011 by Faber and Faber, 208 pages.

Description: Three years ago columnist and author Grace Dent joined new social network site Twitter, mainly as a place to dump her surplus jokes, rant about garbage TV and post exclusive j-pegs of her hot new toenail-varnish.

But as every 're-tweet' and 'Follow Friday' saw her audience figures soar by tens of thousands, Dent found herself centre-stage in an all-consuming highly addictive social network revolution. One where the gags, gossip, scandal and backstabbing literally never stop. Here Dent takes a hilarious, acerbic look at what's really going on in Twitterworld; who's actually tweeting, who's really reading your tweets and what's behind the 140 character lies they tell.

She looks at the highs and grotty lows of twitter addiction, the shameless social climbers, the friends you'll make and the ones you can't get bloody rid of, the barefaced bragging, the shameful celeb-stalking, and the truth about 'twanking', twitter cliques, angry 'twitchfork mobs' and dealing with trolls.

Rating:



How To Leave Twitter is a witty, often laugh out loud funny (and not at all sassy) novel aimed at Twitter users that can't go five minutes without Tweeting their Tweeps.

Eerily familiar it was almost as if author Grace Dent had been rooting around in my head (or more likely my Twitter account) for funny anecdotes. I mean, how else does she know about my habit of spending hours on the website with a full bladder because I simply cannot pry my eyes away from the screen for the minute it might take me to walk to the bathroom? Or, that I check my timeline every morning within five minutes of opening my eyes?

The title to the book is quite misleading as this is not a self help book on how to kick your Twitter addiction (though the final chapter rather unsuccessfully touches upon the subject), but instead it follows the various stages of becoming familiar with the social media platform.

From the very first encounter where the user still thinks it's completely overrated, to the all too familiar stage of full-blown addiction where not even a bursting bladder can prompt the user to move a single inch as it can mean the difference between life or death. Or rather, the difference between reading a new Tweet as soon as it appears on your client or only being able to absorb the useless information after a 30-second delay.

There are also various more random chapters where Dent describes things close to her heart (or at least ones she seems very passionate about), such as "Woman on Twitter" and "The downsides of Twitter". The latter being filled with examples of what one should not Tweet about under any circumstance, as it will alienate Dent, your feed and possibly all of Twitter. Quite terrifying as I do not know a single person who hasn't Tweeted about at least one of the subjects listed on there at some point in their Twitter life time, including myself which made me fear that Dent would absolutely hate my account. Thankfully I soon remembered that she doesn't follow me, and never will, so at the last moment I decided against announcing my dramatic departure from Twitter.

In short, How To Leave Twitter is a clever and scarily realistic tale of the highs and lows of being a Twitter addict and is written in such an engaging and funny way that it will prompt you to follow @gracedent as soon as you turn the final page (or possibly upon turning the first one).

 It won't in any way help you kick your Twitter addiction, but let's face it, who really wants to anyway? There is absolutely nothing more fabulous than being able to wear your comfy pants on a Saturday night whilst chatting to your closest friends 20,000 miles away about vital issues such as the latest hashtag game.

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