Recently, I’ve been thinking about the swinging extremes of sharing that happens on Twitter. I’m guilty of tweeting a lot of nonsense and a lot of images of baked goods, but what my feed has never been is overly emotional. Sometimes I tell those far away that I miss them, sometimes I admit to crying at a film, but blatant and consistent outpouring of feeling on a public forum just isn’t in my nature to do.
Love and the experience of it has never been more in the public domain. Online dating, the infamous Facebook relationship status update, relationship blogs, reality matchmaking programmes. With the potential and expectation for lifelong happiness tantalisingly and continually shoved in our faces it’s a wonder we’re not stabbing Cupid with his own arrows to make it stop.
So it set me to thinking whether such online demonstrations were good or bad; this digital equivalent of the traditional PDA. One example immediately sprung to mind – Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer. As I follow both these public figures (I think, perhaps, this is the fairest term, to use ‘celebrity’ feels to…cheap…) on Twitter, I’ve read the tweets that go back and forth and I doubt if there is a clearer example of unashamed public declarations of love in the digital sphere.
Trying to remove any bias, as I admit I am a fan of the work of both individuals, are their exchanges too much, too public, or too cringeworthy? Well, the one thing they absolutely are is searingly honest. Naked, if you will. In a culture where the issue of privacy is fiercely fought over and often settled in the hands of a judge, it’s actually somewhat refreshing. The sharing with Twitter strangers; thousands, or even millions of random humans sharing the joy of two people who love each other in 140 characters, or a simple instagram photo.
On a wider level I wonder, too, if their messages of adoration to each other have helped the respective super-engaged, supportive fan-bases both Gaiman and Palmer evidently have. Love to get love, albeit predominantly love of the online kind. They are but one example and they happen to have got it very, very right. Is it enough to convince me of all out open love on the web? I’m not sure Twitter could cope with the unadulterated joy.