Category Archives: twitter

Bear With Me While I Put You On Hold

As I was saying to a writer friend – who might be Kylie Ladd and who might never have felt the sting of rejection (oh settle down Kylie, I know the school newsletter once refused to publish your story, working title: Turtles: The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name. But that doesn’t really count.)

Anyhoo – I said to Kylie, “What good is a blog if not a dumping ground for rejected pieces?” Because this piece was rejected by one of my usually friendly websites. They swear the rejection is completely unrelated to my own brand of awesome. But then they probably say that to everyone. Nevermind. I’ll have another piece with them one day.

But this piece was fun – and not my usual writing bag. I find I can’t usually sustain humour beyond 140 characters. That’s not saying that I’m funny on Twitter. Or even that this piece is funny. But… don’t you hate an overwrought preamble?

However, the main reasons for posting this piece are:

1. Telcos have shitted me senseless this week. So get that up ya Telco 1 and Telco 2.

2. I really feel like getting up @AnIdleDad‘s goat cos I know he misses me. And he gets all snarky when you talk about telcos, cos even though he hates his job he has to live in corporate hell in order to fund his appetite for ukes, wine and sharp knives. He also has a rockin’ wife and magic daughters who need to be kept in a manner deserving of their awesomeness.

3. I had a cool writing buddy in on this piece. It was fun (even though he made me pull out my loving copy/paste of my Twitter stream…). We deserve to be published. If you can call a blog ‘published’ (which IMO you can’t really). But we will. Just for today. ^_^

Bear With Me While I Put You On Hold

I always thought whinging about telcos was the resort of mean-spirited types who didn’t understand that everyone is just trying to do their job. Whenever I speak to someone in a far-flung call centre I put on my smiley voice and try to infuse my pesky (one-hundred-and-twenty-seventh) request for whatever-it-is-this-time with an ‘I know what it’s like to be working for the man’ empathy.

Well, f*&% empathy , this shit just got real.

Although the digikids recently talked me into signing my life away for a jabscreen,  I have resolutely held onto my old-school landline. Maybe it’s nostalgia. Or perhaps it’s the fact that I don’t really know how to get out of my telco contract. Or who I am actually contracted to. Or why ‘bundling’ everything might make sense. Or what ‘porting’ my number means.

I’m Generation X so bear with me…

A few weeks ago I had a phone call from Telco1 who wanted to know why, since I had once been happy with them, I had changed to Telco 2. I mumbled something like, “Cheaper.”

Then Telco 1 started saying something like, “Shiny, shiny, My Precious and would you like us to bundle it all, port your number over and give you as many lovely new techno devices for your house as you would like?”

I was all: Yes please. How much?

Telco 1: Oh exactly the same as you were paying before. Just a little bit more expensive. But more shiny.

Me: I don’t have to do anything, right? You can do it all from your end and just deliver the shiny things here? And it will all be good and everyone wins?”

Telco 1: Yes. Yes, that’s exactly how it will work.

Then the voice got all fine-print and disclaimer-ey and I think they said something like: Blah, blah, change your email, blah blah, Gen Y do it all the time, blah, what’s your problem, blah, blah, ringthisonenumberandcheckthatyou’renotundercontractwithTelcos2through48thismessagewrittenandauthorisedbyblahblahblah.

Me: Sure. Can I do it tomorrow?

Telco 1: Yes. You have until (unintelligible date which may have actually been some time in the past).

All was fine until last week when our landline stopped working. And then the internet died. And a then black hole opened up in our kitchen.

Actually I didn’t realise any of this – happily jabbing away as I was at my jabscreen – until my kids said, “Mum! We can’t get onto Club Penguin!”

And that’s when I entered my Telco absurdist nightmare.

Call to Telco 1

Me: Hello. I seem to have a problem with my phone.

Telco 1: Bear with me while I put you on hold…

Me: Oh.

Telco 1: Sorry to have kept you waiting (8 minutes). Ok it seems you’re changing over to us but that’s not actioning until this Friday. We can’t do anything. You need to ring Telco 2.

Call to Telco 2

Me: Hello I seem to have a problem with my phone.

Telco 2; Bear with me while I put you on hold…

Me: Ok.

Telco 2: Um, ok sorry to have kept you waiting (12 minutes). It seems that Telco 1 have actioned the changeover. We can’t do anything from this end now. It’s in their hands. By the way you might need to cancel your contract with us now that you’re with Telco 1. You owe us 95.70 for breaking your contract.

Me: Oh. Ok. Can I cancel it then?

Call to Telco 1

Me: Hi. I was speaking to someone earlier about my phone…

Telco 1: Bear with me while I put you on hold…

Me: But…

Telco 1: Sorry for keeping you waiting (18 minutes) but it seems you have cancelled your contract with Telco 2 and we can’t really action anything from this end until Friday. If you want your phone on, Telco 2 has to do it. You’ll have to cancel the cancellation.

Me: Oh. Ok.

Call to Telco 2

Me: Hi. Can I bear with you while you put me on hold? And when you feel sorry for keeping me waiting for 23 minutes can I talk to you about cancelling my contract? I need to cancel that cancellation.

Telco 2: So what you’re saying is you want to cancel the cancellation order? Because there’s only about 15 minutes left before the cancellation takes effect. If you want to cancel it I’ll have to put you through to the cancellation department. Bear with me…

I swear I’m hardly making any of this up.

And this next part I actually really didn’t make up at all.

Telco 2: Sorry for keeping you waiting (47 minutes), but we’ve checked everything and it looks as if Telco 1 has pulled your plug out. Now, I’m not talking behind anyone’s back or anything (and at this point the voice took on a decidedly teenager-ish tone) but they do this, like, ALL the time. There’s nothing we can do.

That’s when I started rocking back and forth, clutching my jabscreen.

Later that day my husband decided to deal with things. He may have used a swear word. He may have used a loud voice. He may have cried real tears.

We still have no home phone connection.


Filed under parenting, telcos, twitter

off twitter and strung out

This post was updated on March 5th, 2010.

Um, let’s just forget it ever happened.


Off Twitter and Strung Out

I dream of tweeps.

Before June 9th last year (apparently)  that sentence wouldn’t even have made sense to me.

But these days I find myself involved in fantastic nocturnal adventures – exciting, weird, dangerous and sometimes scary adventures –  with characters my subconscious creates from just a Twitter name and a dodgy avatar.

But this isn’t why I’m in Twitter rehab.

Let me re-iterate, I love Twitter.  I have long promoted myself as the ‘In Defence of Twitter’ poster girl. (Here and here in case you missed it.) Twitter just touches a chord with me.

See, here’s the thing: I’m not a particularly social person (and ask all the tweeps who wanna do an IRL with me, it’s true). Never have been. Some of this comes from working in hospitality since I was 17. Slaving away to put myself through uni, I was always working when everyone else was out partying. It probably saved me many a moritfiying morning after and eventually it became a way of life.

Subsequently,  I’m not a big imbiber of anything in particular. I love a few glasses of red wine, and am partial to a French martini. Love the buzz, love the fun, love the whole Bacchanalian/Dionysian aspect of letting loose once in a while. But I subscribe to the ‘less is more’ philosophy when it comes to socialising.

What I am is a reader, and – as I sometimes like to claim –  a writer. Ergo: I love stories. Narrative has always rocked my world. Nose in a book, always at the cinema, often up a tree imagining Swiss Family Robinson scenarios, composing ads about conditioner in the shower – that was the kid I was. And, it seems, the grown-up I have become.

But, when I signed up for Twitter – ostensibly for work and partially out of curiosity –  I was like Alice through the looking glass. Pretty soon I was absorbed by this fantasy world which was also, excitingly, of my own making.

Here was narrative writ small – 140 characters per installment, each installment creating stories made up of millions of potential characters.

Each new day my unique arrangement of tweeps/characters composes a narrative just for me. There’s intrigue, there’s dramatic complication, there’s humour, there’s angst, there’s sadness, misery, anger, grief, rage, annoyance, mundanity, sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll – the whole goddamned box and dice.

Add to that the fact that I am a co-author of these narratives and you’ve kind of blown my mind right there.

It’s Charlie Kaufman, it’s Adaptation, it’s Jasper Fforde, it’s Alice in Wonderland, it’s Stranger than Fiction – it’s every self-referential postmodern meta-narrative you ever loved. And you’re in it. If Lewis Carroll was on LSD when he wrote Alice, just imagine what he would he do if he was on Twitter. OMG.

Unfortunately, coming from good Irish/Scottish stock you can imagine how many of my relatives have floated netherwards on the glass canoe and never returned. I’ve always feared for myself: feared the long and bottomless descent down that particular rabbit hole. Abstinence was easier. Until I met Twitter. I was gone. Hook, line and sinker. It had me at “What are you doing?”

But the problem with the Twitter narrative is that it’s open-ended. While there is delicious narrative structure in each thread the overall effect is of a neverending story. Which is great. And also not. Not when you’re an obsessive reader like me anyway.

But here’s the other thing. Twitter is fabulous for my work. I’ve been approached to write pieces via Twitter. I’ve found fabulous writers to write for me on Twitter. I have been inspired by other writers and the things they do on Twitter. I’ve called out to tweeps to help me for pieces I’m writing, and they do. I also have a bunch of news and opinions, tailor-made for the field in which I work, at my fingertips daily. (Which is good, cos I still don’t know how to work an RSS feed.)

And another thing (I know that’s a lot of ‘things’): I view rocking 140 characters the way we do on Twitter as kind of like a writing warm-up. Scales for the wordsmith poseur semi-literate if you will. But of course there’s no point warming up ad infinitum. At some point you have to perform. Put on the show. Play the game. Run the race.

Now we’re getting to the pointy end.

My plan has always been to write a novel. I said to someone the other day, “It’s all fun and games calling yourself ‘a writer’ until someone says, ‘ how’s the novel’s going’. Then it just sucks.” It’s time I pulled my finger out.

And so this year I’m starting my Masters in Creative Writing. I’m hoping my studies will make me a better writer. In fact, I have a feeling that if I get through the Masters I’m going to do a PhD – and you can bet your collection of Fail Whale merchandise that Twitter narratives will feature somewhere (that is if Twitter isn’t completely passé by then).

But right now something’s gotta give. I’m a wife ( a pretty shit one , I imagine), a mum (fair to middling), the editor of a local parenting magazine (a job I adore and could do all day and all night if I had no other committments) as well as a particularly lacklustre sister, friend and daughter.

And  now I have even less time, what with readings and class and assignments. *sigh*

So I put myself in Twitter rehab – i.e I’m largely staying out of the public timeline for a little while. Believe me, it’s hard. I still spend a big portion of my day composing 140 character updates in my head.

But I can’t tweet. Because if I do and a lovely tweep replies, then I have to reply back. And then I see something cool that someone else wrote and then I have to RT it and then I have to follow a link and then someone else sees my RT and wants to chat. And I want to chat too.

I’ve used the analogy before about twitter being like a great night at the pub. And it is. But hey, I’m too old to go out every night.


I still read my Twitter narratives every day.

I still see what everyone’s up to.

My trigger fingers still itch when I want to reply to a happy/sad/funny tweet.

I still want to share great links with everyone.

What I have been doing is creeping around the DM column annoying the tweeps I thought were up for it. I think they’re starting to avoid me. In fact, I’m even weirding myself out.

And when I DM-ed one tweep with, “Am off Twitter. In the horrors. Just DM me to take the edge off,” I knew I was in trouble. Lol.

So I have promised myself that I have to tackle my To-Do list each day before I reward myself with some recreational tweeting. That To-Do list is pretty big right now, but with tweeting as my motivation I’m sure I’ll get through it.

One thing on that list today was to write this blog post. Because this, right here, is a requiem for my tweep dreams.

May they rest in peace.

Coming from good Irish/Scottish stock you can imagine how many of my relatives have floated netherwards on the glass canoe and never returned. I’ve always feared for myself. Feared the long and bottomless descent down that particular rabbit hole. Abstinence was easier.

Then I met Twitter. I was gone. Hook, line and sinker. It had me at “What are you doing?”


Filed under twitter, writing

free books to give away for free. srsly, they’re free.

You know how you have people who you look up to? People who inspire you? People who make you think, ‘That’s how I wanna be’? Well Kylie Ladd is one of those people for me.

A couple of years ago I started following Kylie’s weekly blog on Web Child. It was around the time that I was making moves towards writing seriously myself. Reading Kylie’s pieces I made up my mind that I wanted to get me one of them thar blog thingies.  And so I did. I was thrilled to be keeping company with Kylie on the same website. When she finally left it was with the announcement that she was off to await the publication and release of her first novel – After the Fall – and to concentrate on writing her second. More inspiration for me.

After the Fall. I'm telling you, it's good.

Before After the Fall was released, Kylie had already published two books: Living with Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias (2006) and Naked: Confessions of Adultery Infidelity (with Leigh Langtree,2008). I had only read a little of the latter – a non-fiction collection of essays and personal stories about infidelity. From that small taste I could see that it was an intelligently edited work, published not for titillation but in a spirit of social and cultural exploration.

It’s easy to see that some of Kylie’s discoveries during the editing of Naked may have informed the narrative and characters of After the Fall. But her novel also showed that she is a writer of amazing breadth. Her fiction writing is as engaging as her blogs and the opinion pieces which have featured in publications like The Age and O Magazine.

By the time I grabbed a copy of After The Fall Kylie and I had struck up a tentative email friendship due to our Web Child connection. She is amazingly supportive, friendly and down to earth. Naturally, I was worried about reading her novel – what if I didn’t like it?

I have only ever read one other novel by a writer with whom I had such a friendship. That was the wonderful Joanne Fedler. Joanne wrote Secret Mothers’ Business and I so engaged with the narrator in that book that as soon as I closed the last page I scribbled off an effusive fan email to the author. My heart literally skipped a beat when Jo’s reply landed in my inbox several minutes later. Joanne is an amazing woman and a wonderful writer. During the time that we chatted online she was in the final edits of her novel Things Without a Name. I bought a copy the first day it was released and was so thrilled to discover that I ADORED her book. I can imagine it would be kinda awkward if I didn’t. (BTW Joanne will have a new book out this year and I will let you all know when it is released.)

Happily, when I finished After The Fall I had the same feeling. I wanted to shout out, “Bravo Kylie!” Luckily by this stage I had my own little website and I was able to post a review of After The Fall. You can read it here.

Kylie’s star continues to rise. After the Fall is into its first reprint in Australia and – how excitement! – is being published by Random House in the US in June of this year. I am super proud of Kylie. She’s an Australian author going places and that’s ALWAYS a good thing.

So – to celebrate the whole darn thing – Kylie has kindly given me three copies of After the Fall to give away. I’d like to be cheeky and say tell me your story of infidelity for a chance to win, but I don’t really think I’m equipped (despite previous assertions) for quite THAT much oversharing. So all I need is a comment here – before midnight on Sunday Feb 14th. Even just a smiley face. I will put all commenters into a random integer draw thingy (It’s ok – I do it at work all the time. I’m not really a flake 🙂 and I am very honest and fair). And you too could have your very own copy of this book. It’s a fabulous novel to curl up and lose yourself in. Trust me.

BTW – as of last night you can find Kylie on Twitter. I must say I played a small hand in seducing her to the dark side. But with the fabulous welcome she got from my tweeps I know that now she can see why I love ’em so much. 🙂 Kylie’s Twitter name is @kylie_ladd.


Filed under twitter, writing

a sunday night ode to twitter

Here’s the thing. I love Twitter. You know I do. But the relationship has taken a love-hate twist of late. I think when I read the review of You are Not a Gadget in Spectrum this past weekend I got a little unsettled.

Anyway, this is where it took me…

Sometimes I tweet because of my work. I edit a small regional street press parenting magazine. Twitter helps me to find fabulous writers and also to access current trends and ideas in the parenting community. Sometimes I promo the stuff we are doing. Sometimes I tweet my own blog, which is part of the bigger picture. You could say I tweet professionally. At least *I* could say that.

But sometimes I just stuff around on Twitter. And by ‘stuff around’ I mean ‘have fun’. I have heard people compare Twitter to a night out at a busy pub, and I have to say I agree.

I also love a good justification so this arvo (after a big Twitter weekend) I came up with a little theory.

I was wondering why this seemingly ‘teenage’ behaviour – the use of social media – was so appealing to me. I mean, when I was growing up we didn’t have MSN or email and we got by just fine. I wasn’t a ‘social media’ kid. Or was I? Who didn’t run home from school and ring up their best friend? And whose parents said to them, “I don’t know what you have to talk about. You’ve been at school together all day,”? In fact, my best friend and I used to go home and write long and detailed letters to one another. Sometimes they were pure comedy. We had two characters – Muriel and Gwendolyn – and together we would write satirical parodies in the voices of these fictional creations. Other times we would write what can only be called love letters. Professions of our mutual adoration, with all the teenage angst two ‘romantics’ – in the Keatsian sense – could muster.

When I was a student teacher one of my mentors said to me – “Remember that teenagers are incredibly social animals. Their social life is THE most important thing.” But that can really be extended. Humans are social animals. We crave interaction – pure and simple. And this is the crux of it all. My tweeps are mainly – though not solely – parents. So why do we all seem to be carrying on like teenagers with this crazy tweeting?

We aren’t. But I do think that being a parent and being a teenager have a crucial commonality. They are both times of your life when your social adventures are seriously curtailed by the demands of others. But, as a parent you can’t climb out the window when everyone’s asleep to meet up with your peeps (well you could, but I wouldn’t recommend it). Instead you climb through your monitor and meet with your tweeps. It’s socialising, but not as you know it.

So it’s ok for single twenty-something-year-olds to laugh at us ‘old farts’ on Twitter but, you know, I’m not allowed out most nights to chat, banter and D&M with friends and strangers in cafes and pubs. Ergo, I tweet.

So, that’s my justification. For the minute.

Oh, and also, all such discussions are never complete without reference to addiction. Funnily enough I have never been addicted to anything, and never understood the feeling of addiction. But now I think I do.

In fact, while I was on my holidays and going through a little withdrawal I came up with an analogy:

Social Media and Alcohol

Stumble is beer. It makes you feel like crap.

Facebook is white wine (occasionally it’s French champagne – but not very often)

Blogging is red wine – quality dependent on the vintage. The vintages I like can be seen to the right.

And Twitter – for me at least – is like your favourite cocktail mixed to your own personal specifications. That would make mine a French Martini.



Filed under parenting, twitter, writing

what not to write

I haven’t quite finished writing how i got here part 2 yet – but, when I eventually do, it will show you the bizarre path which led me to my position as the editor of a parenting magazine in a regional area. But let’s just say that the road to this desk has been paved with rejections, as well as lots of writing about what it means to be a parent.

As a Web Child blogger for almost 18 months I had to pull something out of my hat on deadline every week – and it ALWAYS had to be about parenting. Never was I allowed to post about random stuff – the great refuge that is available to other bloggers. And many weeks it was as torturous as trying to strap a tantrum-chucking toddler into a car seat. In my time I wrote posts of varying degrees of mundanity. Very occasionally I would write something that I thought wasn’t half bad – some of these latter ones will make their way to this blog.

Nowadays, as part of my job, I also read lots of other stuff about parenting. Some of it is fantabulous (and my blogroll contains a few writers who tickle my fancy) and some of it is, well, not.

Last week I may have written one of those pieces myself. I wrote an article which I tweeted about ad nauseum titled In Defence of Helicopter Parents. I submitted it to another publication, to an editor who shall only be known as Big Ed. Big Ed sent it back to me with the gentlest of emails which, despite his best intentions was still a rejection. I was left to ponder two possibilities – either helicopter parenting is actually indefensible or… I can’t write. As a long time debater and wannabe lawyer I believe nearly all positions are defensible. Which left only one option.

Smarting from the sting of rejection I determined that I would blow Big Ed’s socks off. I wanted to write a great piece but found that all I could muster was a string of hackneyed and unoriginal sentiments. I had lost my writing mojo. I  decided that, if I couldn’t write something good I would at least prove that I knew what not-so-good writing was. I called out to my tweeps for the biggest parenting cliches and set to work. The result is below.

Turns out that writing this piece was incredibly liberating – it allowed me to specifically pinpoint what I don’t want to write. I took my red pen immediately to the ‘serious’ article I was working on and it benefited enormously. I’m going to pin it to my wall as a reminder of what not to write.

And, if you feel bad because you have ever thought/written about any of these things just remember that cliches only become cliches because they are usually so incredibly true. It’s just that, as writers it is beholden on us to find ways around them.

Also feel comforted by the fact that most of the cliches here I have used in the past – and probably will use again. But please call me out if you catch me cliche-ing around my blog.

(btw: grammar, punctuation and spelling are incredibly important to me. Exclamation points should be used with caution. None of this applies to Twitter)

Motherhood – The Greatest Gift of All

As a mum, I have found that parenting is the hardest job in the world, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything! Another thing I have learned is that education is one of the most impotent things for a child, which is why I was so excited when my daughter started school last year.

I was worried that she might be upset but on her first day it was mummy who needed tissues as I watched my little one skip happily off to her teacher without looking back. It made me think back to the day she was born and how happy I was. While my body had changed I was amazed by what it could do – I now wear my stretch marks proudly as the scars of what I went through to create my child.

I wanted to be a part of my daughter’s school life so I volunteered to do reading with her class. I was amazed at how advanced she was compared with her class mates. This let me know that all the work I had done with the Baby Einstein and flash cards was definitely worth it. It’s hard being a stay at home mum but watching my child advance to the next stage on the readers before anyone else made it all worthwhile.

My husband agrees that we have made the right choice for me to stay-at-home. ‘We are her first teacher’s’ he said one night as we laid in bed, worrying about our daughter. I agreed and looked into his eyes and saw my daughters eye’s looking back at me. I imagined the day he would walk her down the isle and knew that there would be tear’s that day too. As we spooned that night I thanked my lucky stars that I had found such a good man, a hands on-dad and my best-friend as well.

I agree wholeheartedly with my husband about being our daughters first teacher’s but lately I have started wondering if really, its kid’s who teach their parent’s. One day after school my daughter came home and asked, “Mummy, why is the sky blue?” I looked at her in dis-belief. “Youve been here before,” I thought, to myself. And each day their came a different question, “Do cats laugh?”, “Can puppies smile?” “Where do babies come from?” I was amazed at the way this little one’s brain was developing at such a speed and the uniqueness of her myriad of questions. Children help keep you young and listening to her questions made me realise that.

Of course we believe that education is not just about school so our daughter takes ballet and art classes along with her swimming lessons. One day – after watching Dora the Explorer on TV – she said “Hola Mummy.” I nearly dropped the baking tray full of biscuits I was holding – and knew then and there we had to enroll her in Spanish classes. I believe in giving kids every chance to reach their full potential.

And yes, life is busy for us, and ok so my husband has had to work back a lot lately and there have been a lot of hang-up calls (which, funnily enough, only I seem to get) but, at the end of the day when I look at my childs’ sleeping face I know that nothing else matters and my life will never be the same because it’s all worth it!!


Filed under parenting, twitter, writing

the people you tweep

I am enamoured of Twitter – to say the very least. And, by a stroke of tweeting good fortune, this week I crossed Twitter paths with a  radio announcer from my neck of the woods. Carol Duncan from our local ABC radio station kindly invited me on her show on Wednesday. The night before my interview I dreamt that I overslept  and had to go to the station unwashed and with bad hair. I also dreamt that every time I wanted to speak I had to push a button but kept forgetting which one!! To say I was a tad nervous is putting it mildly.

Happily, Carol was a (good) dream come true. Gracious, clever and so easy to chat to. I felt like I was sitting having a gab with a friend.

I can’t wait to visit her again next year – and that means I HAVE to start my novel. About bloody time I say.

If you want to have a little listen to Carol’s  caramel voice (and my posh ‘radio’ one) – it’s here.


Filed under twitter, writing

chronic oversharers and the human narrative

Bravo Penelope Trunk, your chronic oversharing is helping social media players to consider the way they play the game. At the very least.

A few weeks ago Trunk tweeted about her miscarriage at work.  There followed the expected outrage which saw Trunk respond rather eloquently in The Guardian.

In Australia über -blogger Mia Freedman posted her take on the events . She wrote, ‘Yes, abortion and miscarriage are in many ways taboo. They are also, inherently, private. I guess it is every individual’s right to express whatever they want about their private lives and their bodies… Everyone has different lines about what they’re prepared to share. I don’t know many any people who would see Twitter as an appropriate forum to discuss miscarriage or abortion but…maybe this is really is Life 2.0?’

Mia’s own outrage comes from the personal loss she has documented in her recent book. I get it. I used to write a weekly ‘blog’ on Australian parenting website Web Child. I wrote often about the stillbirth of my daughter and the four miscarriages which saw the end of my fertility. When that gig ended I semi-apologised to my editor for my chronic oversharing. He told me it was a good quality for a writer to possess. Penelope Trunk is a writer and oversharing also seems to be part of her modus operandi.

Through my own writing and the intricate social manoeuvers of the internet I have often found myself visiting a community who call themselves ‘babylost mamas’ – women (and their partners) who have lost babies. You might be amazed by what goes on there. People post photos of dead newborns, they detail the horror of their loss, they howl, they rage, they wonder why no-one wants to hear their voice. They are sometimes attacked in the vilest way possible. But as a community they support one another. Many of them have never met in real life but they share the most unimaginable intimacies of loss and grief in a very public forum. The common denominator is the necessity of sharing their loss – no matter how ‘unpalatable’.

But this voice is not only heard in that particular online community. In Japan, Mizuko Jizo is a deity which is considered to be the guardian of stillborn, miscarried and, yes, aborted babies. It sounds macabre but many who participate in the Mizuko Kuyo ceremony gain a therapeutic comfort from the process. There is reverence in the practice but not a silence.

While Trunk may not have been especially reverent in her original tweet she did give a voice to what is sometimes a silent issue. A voice to open the dialogue. A voice to help us work out the ‘rules’ – if there are any – of both our treatment of reproductive losses, in whatever form they come, as well as the ‘rules’ of online sharing.

Her tweet raises the issue of what we share and how and where we share it. It makes me wonder if we need guardians for the tendency to overshare. But as a self-confessed oversharer I would say my only rule is not to hurt others. I guess this is where most of us draw the line. Although the line is – and probably always has been – a tricky one to negotiate.

The need to draw that line is usually brought into play when a certain sense of outrage accompanies an oversharing (or other outrageous) incident. Julian Morrow’s Andrew Olle Media Lecture recently suggested a framework for dealing with outrage (albeit he concedes he could have done with this framework last year when The Chaser was suspended). Morrow says that when it comes to outrage over a particular skit/film/commercial/book/tweet there are three categories, ‘The first is people who are hurt by it; the second is people who are offended or outraged by it; and then the last category is those who don’t like it.’ Using The Chaser’s Make A Wish skit as an example he spoke about his sorrow for those in the first group. He also cautioned against using the second or third groups as censors.

When it comes to Penelope Trunk’s tweet Mia Freedman falls into the first category – her outrage and hurt is justified. But what emerged from the responses to her blog post was that within her readership – an engaged and generally supportive bunch – there were some from each group of outrage, as well as many who weren’t outraged at all. In fact there was support for Trunk. Women expressed feeling similar relief when they themselves miscarried unwanted pregnancies; some respected Trunk’s right to express herself; many expressed the idea that silence and taboos are hurtful and therefore this tweet was a chance to address the silence. The appropriateness of the Twitter forum was also discussed – and, surprisingly, a few didn’t see a problem with it. Again, Freedman’s blog (via Trunk’s tweet) opened up the debate to those truly engaged in the issue. Silencing authentic voices in the new media was the loser.

The recent Media140 conference in Sydney – which I didn’t attend but, thanks to a bunch of the nicest narcissistic oversharers, I feel like I did – also looked at what we share and how and where we share it. Laurel Papworth’s discussion on the Human Narrative grabbed my attention  While Papworth’s speech concentrated on old versus new media I liked the fact that she highlighted the collaborative storytelling nature of blogging and other social media including Twitter.

And this brings me full circle. Twitter is emerging as a valuable communication tool – if only we can get over the prejudices about its ‘legitimate’ uses. Just as bloggers were once snickered at behind elitist hands now it’s the Twits who are scrambling to legitimise themselves. I say don’t worry too much kids, oversharers make the human narrative go round. And if you agree that narrative is one of the ways we make sense of the world then all voices need to be at least considered. Imagine an old-school world without the likes of Augusten Burroughs, the oversharer who gave us Running With Scissors. Just for starters.


Filed under loss, parenting, twitter, writing