It is terrible thing to be told you are bad in bed. There is something inescapably definitive about it. With most of life’s challenges – public speaking, playing a musical instrument, writing a book – there is at least the illusion that, with money or coaching or sheer strength of character, uselessness can be knocked into some form of mediocrity which in its turn be heaved in the general direction of the acceptably average.
Bed-badness is beyond all that. There may be advice available from books and counsellors, but the truly afflicted know that their problem is not some kind of unfortunate add-on to their essential natures which can be replaced or modified. Being bad in bed is how they are, an expression of their being.
Or so I imagine. This blog is not plunging into the fashionably confessional just yet. What has made my thoughts stray bedwards recently was a remark on Twitter, made not to me but about me, which referred to me as being “bad at Twitter”. Intriguingly, my accuser Ian Dunt turned out to be the political editor of the Erotic Review.
Of course, he was right. I realised that immediately. And there was nothing I could do about it.
This is said without pride. A professional writer should be able to master a direct, informal new form of communicating. 140 characters in which to answer the simple yet strangely irritating question “What’s happening?” is hardly like constructing a sonnet.
There is a peculiar shame in being worse at it than millions of people who do not write for a living. It reminds me of when I was 17 and hoping to read English at university - and failed my Use of English exam, a bog-standard universal literacy test which even the nerdiest scientist sailed through.
When, in a rather unmanly way, I tweeted Ian Dunt to express my hurt at what seemed like an accusation, he kindly reassured me. My other writing was fine; I just didn’t have digital mojo. “We can’t have it all,” he said. He even offered me a spot of advice: “Frequent informal tweets with links to side-interests is the new clitoris.”
Oh God. I think it was at that point that I knew that Twitter is never going to be my medium. When, occasionally, I enter the Twittersphere, it is like entering a very noisy party, where everyone is shouting opinions, gossip and jokes at one another. I want to run away. Now and then I try to engage in a conversation but, like the bedroom blunderer, I’m all elbows and knees. I try too hard. I go too fast, too slow, show too much enthusiasm or not quite enough. I go off the boil at the critical moment.
Being bad at Twitter turns out to be a libido problem. Deep down, I don’t really want to find the clitoris to which Ian Dunt refers. When it comes to communicating, bantering, joking, linking, tagging, hashing, favouriting or unfavouriting, I have not the slightest stirring of desire. I am the Edward Heath of the Twittersphere.
The effect of the social media, I have discovered, is to make me feel profoundly anti-social. Even Facebook, where everyone is effortlessly open and sharing about everything at all hours of the day and night, makes me want to go and hide in a cave.
Like being bad in bed, being bad at Twitter is a knock for the self-image. Here is a medium, I have discovered, which requires more generosity and friendliness than I have at my disposal.
Too mean to be able to tweet properly – how embarrassing.