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Nadine Dorries, MP posted the following on her blog:

Twitter Obsession
Posted Thursday, 30 September 2010 at 10:57
I will post my article in Iain Dale's book shortly, with his permission. In the article, in which I very clearly define the reasons why MPs should not blog or Twitter (yes, I know ) I mention someone who has posted 22,000 tweets in four months.
Today, someone has emailed my office with the details of a political/personal Tweeter who has posted 35,000 tweets in a similar amount of time.
I'm going to have to set up a Twitter account again so that I can check this out for myself!... Not.

Is there such a thing as Twitter addiction? How can anyone live a normal life who can do that? Surely these people cannot be in employment because if they are, how can they work? if they aren't then it's time they got a job which involves being sat at a key board because there's nothing much up with their fingers, brain or attention span!!

I wonder if very soon someone is going to identify a Twitter syndrome and we get to read about people who have become compulsive Tweeters. Will we hear stories of people who Tweet, oh I don't know, say 50 times a day and need to go into re-hab?

I will put money on that being a Daily Mail story one day. In the meantime, do you know of anyone else who has Tweeted more than 35,000 times in less than six months? If so, email my office and let me know. Or, better still, if it's someone you know is on benefits, contact the DWP.

I am so angry! She clearly does not know what she is talking about and has done no research before posting a quotable blog screed like this. I am, however, too angry/upset about this to write anything coherent. Yes, this all happened a few days ago (Thursday 30th Sept, 2010 according to the date of her blog post). I have been reading a lot about this blog bigoted post and a number of responses to it on so many blogs, disability advocacy websites, here on LiveJournal and, yes, on Twitter.

Today, though, I followed another link about this subject to a blog post at mindinflux.wordpress.com where the author, a disabled person with a number of diagnoses (who also uses twitter and other social networks as a way to gain human contact), has publicly posted her email reply to Nadine Dorries:
Dear Ms Dorries,
I am writing to you as a disabled citizen of this country. And a twitter user.
I have today read your blog, where you state that people who are on benefits and use twitter should be reported to the DWP.
I find your opinions on this matter worrying and shockingly ignorant.
For many disabled people, the internet has opened up a portal into a world of social contact. Many of us are socially extremely isolated. We may be limited in our ability to engage in the world by physical disabilities, or by mental illness. For us, twitter, and other social media, might provide our only human contact.
As you might guess from my email address, I have mental health difficulties. I have depression, social phobia and generalised anxiety disorder, among other diagnoses. The only human beings I see in the real world are a support worker (once a week), occupational therapist (monthly), and psychiatrist (monthly). Plus my mother, who I see once a week. Because of my mental health condition, I am unable to leave the house alone, without extreme anxiety or panic attacks. I lost my job in management 3 years ago. My marriage broke up 2 years ago. I have no friends. I am alone for about 95% of the week.
Since starting to use twitter a few months ago, I have come into contact with other disabled people, who are also socially isolated. And others who are less socially isolated, but for whom twitter has provided a way of meeting people with similar interests or outlook. These people have opened up the world for me. They have made my life less restricted and sterile. I have conversations with them, in much the same way a less restricted person might when meeting a friend at a cafe or pub. This is what twitter is for me – a method of making friends.
Would you have me close my twitter account, and go back to staring mindlessly at the television all day, or return to my bed? Or would you like to report me to the DWP yourself, for trying to have some sort of social contact with other human beings?
I look forward to your reply.

The first commenter to that post, a Paul, says:

You have taken this far too personally. She simply meant that people who CHOSE not to work – and, if we’re honest with ourselves, there are many thousands – should be forced to get a job. If you are disabled and CAN’T work, she was not talking about you. Why does everyone seem to enjoy overreacting so much?

He has totally missed the point. That may be what she meant. If so that is what she should have SAID. Another commenter, Tom, replied to Paul:

Except that Dorries’s post states, pretty explicitly, that if you’re capable of using twitter, you’re capable of working. She shows absolutely no understanding of the complex nature of mental health.

Exactly. My reply to Tom (and so also to Paul and MindInFlux's author) was:

She also shows no understanding of invisible disabilities such as chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia and, my disability, multiple sclerosis that mean one or two (or, yes, 50) 140 character message(s) on Twitter use(s) up a lot of “spoons” or energy before meaning that we have to sleep – that there is no way that we could work a nine to five job without sleeping four or five times during the day. Yes, I can walk. Sometimes. Sometimes I cannot walk straight and look drunk despite never touching a drop of alcohol (I could not with all of these meds, anyway!). I use a cane in case I have one of my vertigo episodes. Yes, I have higher rate DLA. I rarely go outside and the computer (other than my hubby and cats) is my only social life (Twitter, LiveJournal and World of Warcraft).

…and then a P.S.:

P.S. My non-computer-literate therapist likened to social media like LiveJournal to group therapy. Just because I can Tewwt or blog from my bed or the desk and chair one metre away from my bed, it does not mean that I can leave the house regularly or reliably – my symptoms fluctuate in severity from hour to hour.

I am finding it hard to concentrate my mind on this, to be honest, and my urge is to dissociate from it entirely and just play WoW until I fall asleep. I knew that I was right to be scared about what might happen to our benefits in the now Conservative/Tory government (albeit with a smattering of Liberal Democrat compromisers toeing the Tory line).

It is truly ironic that, in her original blog post, Nadine Dorries says, "I will put money on that being a Daily Mail story one day." Ah, so she is another person that gains her opinions from the pages of that far right wing 'newspaper'. 'Nuff said.

More links as I find them:

MindInFlux's 'about' info:
I live in the UK and I have a motley collection of mental health related labels. I've been out of work for nearly 3 years, after some time in the heady world of bookshop management.

I'm increasingly frustrated by the manner in which disabled people are portrayed in the media and treated by government, particularly in relation to benefits and our apparant scrounging ways, and the perceived danger of the mentally ill to 'the law abiding man on the street'.

This is my second stab at a blog. The first died a paranoia related death. Having sorted through a few issues in my mind I have decided to give it a second go, with a brand spanking new site. I'll probably swear a fair amount, so be warned. I might also irritate, bore and annoy you. If so, the door is thataway. Have a nice day.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 4th, 2010 12:47 am (UTC)
What does MP mean?

Her opinion is frightening. There have been people in the US who have lost Disability Benefits because they have photos of themselves on facebook where they're having fun. A depressed person cannot smile, and if they do, it means they're all better. If you're depressed, you can never go out with friends, never smile, never have any pleasure.

The trope of disabled person as miserable is so injurious. If you dare to go in public, the public thinks you're all better. Unless you're in a wheelchair (or have another very visual marker that an able bodied person would be mortified to have because they think it means their life would be over), your disability is always in question. Anyone without a physical marker is punished for trying to get better, like if you can do it once, you can now do it daily. I'm scared to get any of my quality of life back, fearing that the littlest bit will disqualify myself from benefits when I'm up for review again.

Another thing she is entirely ignorant of is that there are plenty of disabled people who would love to be employed. Jobs where one can work from home are few and far between. Everyone in a wheelchair isn't disabled to the point of not being able to work. Blind people, deaf people, even those with CFIDS, etc. are not all totally unable to work, but few companies are willing to make any kind of reasonable accommodation, however small, claiming it's too expensive. What's more expensive is all the people stuck on disability because no one is willing to hire them.

Aside from all that, she misses the point of twitter. Twitter seems to be for people with little attention span. 140 characters is a one liner. It takes nothing to write one. I have no idea how people keep up with it or meet people. All I know is that it's taken people away from lj and the blogs they used to write, and often replaced it with inane posts about where you're eating lunch. Not you personally, and I think that using twitter about health things during the day is an interesting way to do it, since 140 characters is all you need.

[The only reason I kept saying wheelchair is that the disability logo is a person in a wheelchair, so much of the public opinion is that disability means wheelchair]
Oct. 4th, 2010 12:48 am (UTC)
I'd edit to end the bolding, but I don't have a paid account. :/
Oct. 4th, 2010 12:33 pm (UTC)
MP means Member of Parliament .. i.e one of those people who rule over us 'lucky' UK citizens...
Oct. 4th, 2010 01:35 pm (UTC)
Thanks - you beat me to it! ;-p
Oct. 4th, 2010 10:33 am (UTC)
The thing is there probably is such a thing as twitter addiction and it warrants a rational discussion, just a pity in this case Dorries has clouded the issue with her own pithy ignorance and prejudice.

And how peculiar to use her own blog to caution other politicians against using social media (because they might waste time saying something stupid and useless).
Oct. 4th, 2010 01:35 pm (UTC)
LOL Indeed!
Oct. 4th, 2010 12:34 pm (UTC)
And they're talking about cutting benefits because so much money is "wasted" on it... unlike the average £80-90k/pa wage an MP gets.
Oct. 4th, 2010 01:36 pm (UTC)
Yup. *facepalm* *headdesk*

P.S. Did you see this link I added to the main post?

Edited at 2010-10-04 01:39 pm (UTC)
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )


Nat S Ford
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