Neil Pickford - I apologise for what you are reading

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I want to make it clear that the column you are about to read and the views expressed within do not change my over-riding opinion that talking to people and meeting them face-to-face is better than social networking.

Anyone who knows me well or has happened upon one of these columns over the past five years will know full well that I believe that social networking will ultimately be the death of the art of conversation.

Facebook and, to a far greater extent, Twitter encourage people to try to be to the point with a witty, thought-provoking or controversial within a set number of characters.

As Rob Brydon tweeted yesterday: “Wish I could think of something to Tweet about. Ideally something pithy, witty and not too long. Something that knows the value of economy.”

Social networking does not, of itself, promote serious long-term debate or help create life-long friendships.

But, as a recent convert, I have to say it is damned addictive.

I have been tweeting for just a week now and find myself disappointed at myself for the amount of satisfaction I get at being re-tweeted or seeing the number of my followers going up.

I think the pressure of trying to be funny is off because I treat tweeting as part of my job to promote the newspaper and its website, but nonetheless anyone who tweets still wants to be relevant.

I still need to be up-to-date, informative and relevant. As ever, the worst thing is to be ignored.

And I have to say that the twitterati seem to be a friendly bunch.

The people I follow, and my followers to date, seem to be a pleasant bunch with some strongly held views and some wit as well.

I’ve already been pointed in the direction of some fascinating articles and picked up lots of information about people, some I know well and some I don’t.

So please forgive me for my previous sins and criticism of social networking.

I stand by my views that it will never replace personal contact and that actually picking up the phone and talking to someone is still a good idea, but I think I’m going to quite enjoy being part of that community. Must be going, need to tweet everyone to tell them that I’ve finished my column and that it can be read in tomorrow’s Evening Telegraph.

Follow me on Twitter @NeilPickfordET