The best of Twitter: Inspiring

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We’re all used to how breaking news and issues are often heard on Twitter way before the actual on-line news channels. Global events like Arab Spring were fueled by it. Best wishes to footballer’s sent via it. And donations for unfortunate marathon runners raised by it.

But there are still some thing’s to be discovered. They can be surprising. And very inspiring. One of those discoveries occurred over the recent Bank Holiday weekend – all thanks to a tweet by @LordPlumpton. The inspiration that is: #TheAfghanistanyouneversee – it’s one hashtag you must follow.

For most of us, the only images we see of that land are of bad news. Reports of another dead soldier. Or some other recent atrocity. Now compare all of that to the reality of the images you’ll see on that hashtag. Many of them are beautiful photographs. All by serving armed forces personnel. Not all of them British. It gives you a real insight into the real life over there. For them and the Afghans.

Not every hashtag makes it into the Top Trending Topics and then disappears forever. Some of them are all the better for it. This is one of them.

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Part of our andsome blog #Tweetweek series – inspired by having reached 10,000 updates on Twitter as @andsomepeople 

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2 Comments »

  1. Jim Thornton Said:

    Firstly, thank you for the mention in the above piece, very decent of you.

    People often ask me why I follow so many tweeters, to which there are 3 answers I generally give, of which only the latter 2 are obviously true: 1) they’re all Stoke fans, 2) because I’m too lazy to do an audit of the people I follow and 3) because i like to follow as many different types of people from as many areas of life as possible – footballers, politicians, creatives, comedians, activists, musicians, brands, writers, thinkers, Stoke fans, Lewes CFC fans & players and yes, armed forces personnel.

    The sheer joy of social media lies in being allowed to look directly through the windows of houses you’d never normally get to see, unfiltered, unedited and undisturbed. As people from all walks of life have embraced it, it has created an enormous estate (be warned, I’m going to flog this metaphor to death) made up of the most fantastical, randomly designed houses of all shapes and sizes in which live people with endlessly fascinating lives all of whom are quite happy to let us peer through their windows and see what they’re up to. (Hyacinth Bucket would love twitter) It’s a landscape of inexhaustible delights previously unimaginable to those of us raised in a world of just 3 TV channels, 4 radio stations and, if you lived in our house, only one daily newspaper.

    And just as it’s important to read newspapers and commentators you don’t agree with to broaden your world view, Twitter gives you a great opportunity to follow people whose windows you probably don’t want to look into for fear of what horrors you may see.

    #TheAfghanistanyouneversee is one of those windows for me. Yet it’s one of the most wonderful windows (I DID warn you about this metaphor) I’ve ever looked through in my 3 or so years on twitter, and for me encapsulates the most powerful and vital aspect of the Twitter phenomenon: the chance for ordinary people to tell extraordinary stories in their own words and pictures in order that the rest of us can be better informed.

    Do I now feel any less opposition to the war in Afghanistan as a result of looking at these pictures? No. Do I now have more respect for the men and women in the armed forces and their attempts to do the best possible job under nightmare conditions in a hostile environment? Yes. Do I now appreciate that these men and women are, for the most part, doing their very, very best often at great danger to themselves to improve the lives of the people of Afghanistan at a very personal level & as far as they are empowered to do so? Yes. Do i understand a little more about Afghanistan and its people as a result of this hashtag? Yes. And have I been surprised and delighted by the extensive photographic talent being deployed in Afghanistan? Most definitely – some of these pictures are stunningly beautiful

    The reason I can say all this without reservation or cynicism is because, unless the MOD are infinitely smarter and more cunning than their procurement processes would suggest, I have been able to look through the windows of this particular house unhindered by some Colonel Blimp telling me which rooms I’m allowed to see whilst closing the curtains across the ones I’m not (I’ve nearly finished, promise).

    Which is the lesson for all marketeers to take from this particular hashtag. Empower your people, let them tell your story, trust them and believe in them. Open the curtains in lots of rooms and let people look in and decide whether they’re interested in your lives or not.

    I suspect this simple idea, started by a serving airman and a journalist/photographer, has done more for the armed forces’ brand scores than any amount of clever advertising could ever hope to do. I just hope Colonel Blimp appreciates that.

    So enormous thanks and respect to @RAFairman who originated the hashtag. I followed him originally because I was intrigued to see how the men and women of the forces would use twitter and whether they would be heavily censored or even censured for being on it at all.

    I probably miss an awful lot of great stuff by following so many people and never having enough time to keep up, but every so often, usually when I can’t sleep, a trawl through my timelines reveals a little gem. Or in this case a bloody great Koh-i-Noor diamond.

  2. It’s great that there are stories like that as well as all the doom and gloom stories on Twitter. Thanks.


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