As you may have gathered, I have been away for the past month. With only intermittent wifi access, and a long-overdue need for some downtime, I tried to take a complete break from work. Of course, I was not completely successful in this aim: I did sneak peeks at my emails, and (when I thought no-one was looking) at my daily Google alerts on the topic of “money laundering”. The one source I was never tempted to check was Twitter. And – as is often the way on holiday – I started to reassess my working life, on the basis of “if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got”.
I start every day with a scan of my email – which usually contains a few links to relevant news stories, as I subscribe to several alerts – and then a search of the BBC News website using the term “money laundering”. If I see anything that tickles my AML fancy, I consider how to share it: as a headline on the Newsroom page of my website, as a Tweet, or – occasionally – as a direct email to someone to whom I think it is particularly relevant. When I thought about how I made that decision, I realised that I was using Twitter mainly to spread ML/AML “gossip” – stories saying “it is alleged that”, or someone “is suspected of involvement in”. And when I came back from holiday I carefully read all the email alerts that I had received over the past month, but did not bother going back even one day on Twitter, as I knew it would all be – literally – old news.
In all honesty, Twitter does not suit my character. I am not a fast-moving creature: I prefer slow and steady. Even in my spare time, when I give myself over to writing fiction, it’s fiction set in the past, where everything has already happened and I can take my time over considering its impact and implications. When I was in Canada and occasionally turned the telly to Bloomberg, all of those fast-moving panels and scrolling ticker-tapes of information made me feel dizzy. I initially started Tweeting in a professional capacity because “everyone is doing it”. But it turns out that they aren’t: the majority of my clients work in offices where Twitter is not permitted, so anything I post in a hurry at 0915 is unlikely to be seen – if at all – until they get home that evening, when it will have been overtaken by a surfing dog and the latest fashion faux pas of some tweenie singer. Indeed, on Twitter I have only 377 followers, compared with over a thousand subscribers to this blog. So from now on I’ll leave the tweeting to singers Katy Perry (102,891,671 followers) and Justin Bieber (99,762,866), and ex-pres Barack Obama (94,125,360). From today I will not be tweeting, apart from the automated tweets that appear whenever I post on this blog, which is confusingly circular.