This weekend my household suffered a minor catastrophe. On route by train to visiting a grandmother in Scotland one of my children lost their suitcase. It contained the usual essentials for such a visit - toothbrush, pyjamas, a book and a much loved teddy bear. In the scale of things of course very small beer. Such things happen. It is a part of growing up. Keep an eye on your stuff at all times. A lesson learned. All these things are true, but nevertheless the loss was keenly felt. The upset real enough.
Contact with the appropriate lost property agencies was made. Sympathetic responses received. Reference number issued. It being the weekend expect no real progress until Monday. In the meantime adopt a, now unfashionable, stiff upper lip and crack on. Then more in hope than expectation I posted a tweet asking for help. Retweeted by twitter titans Iain Dale, Patrick O’flynn and Luke Miller the Archdeacon of London, kind messages suddenly came pouring in. Some gentle jokes about marmalade sandwiches too. Then one person copied in the train company, something I should have thought of doing but didn’t, and the train company then responded immediately. Within two hours of posting I had received contact from the person who in haste and totally accidentally had taken the case containing the bear. This person had telephoned the train company to report having the bag and had been told there was something about it on twitter. They activated their account and sent a message to me. Within three hours we had both the case and the bear back in our possession.
Many people saw and responded to the tweet I posted and every single response was kind and helpful. Every single one. Think about that. Social media we have learned is a great purveyor of nastiness, fake news, half-truths, and spite. It provides forums for terrorists, paedophiles, and criminality of all kinds. Politicians and public figures are trolled and abused. Anonymity provides the opportunity to say things we would baulk at saying face-to-face. Donald Trump seized the Presidency and seems to govern the United States by adroit use of twitter. Instagram provides a medium for apparently talentless individuals to become famous and even earn a living. Schools warn of the harmful effects, the NHS issues guidance and politicians threaten legislation and regulation. Even mainstream newspapers now report the doings of ‘social media influencers’. Its influence and impact is all pervasive. This weekend however I have experienced its good side – twitter as a medium for kindness, gentle humour, community support and the swift answer to a distressing problem.