I can never quite remember what the right phrase is… if you use Twitter, are you a twit? Somehow I think not!
However, I was intrigued to read about the furore that’s exploded recently about the NHS in the good ol’ US of A.
Essentially the situation is this… Barack Obama wants to reform health services in the US, making them more accessible to the poorest people. His opponents though are citing the NHS as a failed system that rations health care and ‘leaves the elderly to starve in wards’.
Sarah Palin (she who is famous for being a bear hunter) called the system ‘downright evil’.
A bit harsh, I thought.
Whatever the Americans do or think about our dear old NHS is no concern of mine… we already know it’s not really working, but I was interested in how the argument had developed and then exploded.
A Conservative MEP had been on American television to support claims that the NHS was rubbish… he said ‘I wouldn’t wish it on anyone’. And then a Twitter campaign got into full swing.
There are now a million people following the Twitter page welovethenhs.
Don’t believe me?
Go to http://twitter.com/home#search?q=welovethenhs
Now, I could get sucked into the NHS argument, but that’s not really the point I was going to make.
I wanted to point out the multi-media society we are now living in (or as Martha Stewart puts it, the Omni-media society). As far as I can see it, this is how so many people have got involved in the row… and I’ve tried to count the media types used:
• Barack Obama discusses (1) reform of US health care provision
• A British MEP speaks on television (2) about the NHS
• The argument gets picked up by a couple of newspapers (3)
• Stephen Hawkings enters the argument at an awards ceremony (4)
• It ends up on Twitter as a huge campaign (5)
And where did I end up reading about it?
• Lying in bed last night, reading the BBC website news on my iPhone! (6)
• Oh, and I forwarded the news story direct from my ‘phone to a friend (7)
• And then I txt (sorry text) them about it (8)
I feel faint!
But all this, as an illustration of how people are getting more involved in events, has huge ramifications about the way we communicate.
In this instance I really do think that Twitter has been a positive influence. Up until this outpouring of affection for our creaky old system of healthcare, the Americans were being fed one view of the service. Now, at least they can see and read about millions of stories of the work our NHS does.