SUNDAY night seems an appropriate time to enjoy a quiet moment of contemplation about the ups and downs of the past week, and to prepare to make the most of the week to come.
So what better time to launch a new regular feature highlighting some of the more stimulating, thoughtful and thought-provoking material to be found on Twitter?
Social media may not seem the natural place for a relaxing read, but perhaps that’s the point of taking time to focus on the best that it has to offer, rather than the worst.
We know that some people find Twitter a dangerous place, filled with harassment and abuse. The company has been roundly criticsed for failing to act quickly enough to remove rogue users and prevent menacing and threatening behaviour.
But the platform also provides an excellent opportunity to communicate with a worldwide audience of readers who share similar concerns and interests, so of course it makes perfect sense as a complementary platform that allows us to spread the word about our website’s content to a broader audience than our core Facebook membership group.
Reaching new audiences can be a mixed blessing, of course, as we discovered when Jeremy Clarkson responded to our recent Tweet about queues outside his Cotswold farm shop, prompting “likes” from more than 10,000 of his followers, not to mention a fair share of acerbic remarks.
But having been on the platform since June 2018, we have been protected from most of the worst aspects of online interaction, and instead have been able to savour the posts of the 1,000-odd people we have chosen to follow, from naturalists and wildlife enthusiasts to farmers, growers and local groups with a special interest in what the Chilterns has to offer.
Back in July 2018 we wrote about the benefits of positive thinking online, of attempting to surround yourself with engaging and upbeat company rather than become depressed by the unrelenting misery of negative news feeds and toxic exchanges which sap our energy and undermine our peace of mind.
With that in mind, our new feature is very much focused on finding the positive online and seeking out those voices that provide us with joy – particularly when that takes the form of accounts which celebrate wildlife and the great outdoors.
It might be a joke, cartoon or nature clip, or perhaps a thought-provoking commentary or personal experience that chimes with the magazine’s aims.
In our own posts we have attempted to be uplifting in output, deliberately restricting the number of weekly tweets and trying to provide our 450+ followers with pictures and links which brighten their day rather than the reverse, as well as linking to the content of our regular and one-off features.
Local photographers have been out and about capturing the magic of the Chilterns landscape for our monthly calendar feature, while artists across the region have featured in our Monday Picture of the Week series, which has been running for the past year.
The magazine’s Twitter feed is slightly more political than our Facebook group page, reflecting growing concerns about climate change and the state of the planet. But at the same time as highlighting unavoidable concerns, the mood of the feed has always tried to remain upbeat and positive.
Whether that means singing the praises of moths or slow worms, highlighting colourful characters who adore the Chilterns countryside, exploring our fascinating local heritage or spotlighting dozens of top local attractions for family days out, the focus has been on celebrating the very best our region has to offer, and hoping to encourage readers to spare a moment to peruse the magazine’s main website in a little more detail.
With almost 300 articles to choose from, we hope those who find their way to the website are able to find something to hold their interest, from characters with interesting stories to share to stories steeped in the history of the extraordinary Chilterns landscape.
So do join us over the coming weeks as we try to seek out some of the most inspiring, entertaining and informative Twitter users who prove social media can be a powerful force for good, and not just a place for division, gossip and abuse.
Do you have any nominations for favourite Twitter accounts which brighten your life? Let us know your favourites by writing to email@example.com and we’ll see if they should be featured in our Sunday night series.