Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Sweet Tweeters

‘…what gives me hope and reassurance as I approach my eightieth birthday is the remarkable passion for justice and peace that I have experienced when meeting and speaking to thousands of young people around the world in these first years of the twenty-first century. When I see their level of commitment, I know the world is in safe hands.’

Desmond Tutu

When I read the words above, I was immediately put in mind of some internet acquaintances of mine. I hardly dare call them my friends (though I'd be honoured if they think of me as theirs), as I know them only through tweets and they’re all almost young enough to be my grandchildren. But they inspire me with hope for humanity.

The reason for this is simple. An endless outpouring of love. Now, if I tell you that much of this love is given over to TV shows and characters (in particular Doctor Who & Sherlock), you might immediately dismiss the idea that these girls (and yes, they are all female) have anything to teach anyone. But that would be a mistake. I think it’s true to say that most of them found each other through a mutual love of TV shows, and a great many of their tweets do still consist of excited or downcast outbursts over same, but the devotion they display to fictional characters and the people who play them is symptomatic of their approach to life as a whole. Their hearts instinctively go out — they don’t hedge, they don’t restrain themselves. They just love.

And nowhere is this better reflected than in their attitude to each other. There is not a single trace of the rivalry and jealousy that some would have you believe is an essential component of female friendships; instead, there is constant support, an instantaneous rush to comfort in the event of even the smallest mishap, and an unabashed delight in the achievements of others. Even if the achievement is to do something they desperately wish to do themselves, i.e. meet the actor of their dreams.

(The gentleness of these girls even extends to their enemies – on ask.fm they are victims of the attentions of the inevitable trolls, but their response is always polite, if necessarily occasionally firm!)

And to anyone who might think that their passion for things that are not ‘real’ is unhealthy, it seems to me that however they first came into contact, their devotion to each other is now so much greater than their feeling for their favourite shows/performers that if it came to a choice between one and the other, they would unhesitatingly choose their friend. No danger of their not being able to distinguish fiction from reality.

And it goes deeper. There’s Ayesha, who runs a blog designed to help anyone who needs advice on anything at all – and in this she is assisted by Ella (a mere 14!), who desperately wants to bring peace to the world in any way she can (Both of them also volunteer for charity during their spare time). Then there’s Anne, whose entire existence seems to be given over to selfless and unstinting support of others in whatever they do; I have never encountered a gentler and sweeter soul. Unless it’s Poppy, whose special brand of straightforward charm and utterly guileless devotion to David Tennant has netted her a staggering 5,000 followers. There are others, possibly just as remarkable for their passion and generosity – these are simply the ones I know best.

I don’t know how representative of their generation these girls are. But their open-hearted approach to every aspect of life makes me hope they’re typical. We are well on the way to making a mess of much of this world, but if the future is in the hands of these angels who lead with their hearts, all may not be lost.