The Power of Twitter

Yesterday was an unusual day on Twitter. Or maybe it wasn’t. I don’t usually look at the trending topics. Yesterday I did. I looked at a topic called #lessinterestingbooks, because it was started by the author Nicola Morgan.

This is what happened: Nicola started a topic, just for fun. The idea was to change the names of existing books to make them, well, less interesting. The idea spread like wildfire, and in a very short time, people all over the world were composing less interesting book titles, and Nicola’s hashtag was at number one. (If you want a fuller explanation of what happened, you can read about it on Nicola’s blog.)

Of the many titles I looked at, I saved one of them: The Da Vinci Assembly Language by @lukedones, whoever that is. I really liked that one, but possibly you have to be a former computer programmer to appreciate it.

Anyway, apart from the fun of reading the titles, I think there are some interesting lessons to learn from all this:

  • Twitter, used in the right way, is a very important tool.
  • There are a lot of bored people out there looking for a new game or any excuse to do something other than what they’re supposed to be doing.
  • I, of course, was much too busy to spend my time making up silly titles or reading them. Well, I only wrote two or three and read … hundreds.

And not just that. Some people used the hashtag incorrectly. Instead of making up names, they tweeted real names of books they found less interesting, or they wrote something like “all school history books” or “book name, which I was made to read at school” or “all books” or “I don’t read.” From which I deduce:

  • Some people just don’t get it. But then it’s possible that the use of the hashtag changed somewhere along the lines, a bit like the game, Chinese Whispers.
  • A lot of people don’t read (but we knew that anyway)
  • A lot of people are put off reading at school

I was put off reading at school. I was made to read books I wasn’t mature enough to understand, and so I found reading boring. I thought it wasn’t my thing. It took me years to get back into the habit of reading again and longer to believe I could write.

So I think the education system – every education system – needs to be changed. It needs to acknowledge that pupils are all unique. It should stop insisting that all children in a certain class/form/grade have to read the same books. I realise that would make the teacher’s job harder, but wouldn’t that be better than churning out people who never want to read again?