social media

TV + Twitter – Does it make a better viewing experience?

First it was the reality shows, especially those on Channel 4, who displayed a hash tag at the ad break, but now there’s probably one for Bargain Hunt, Scrapheap Challenge and Frozen Planet.&

First it was the reality shows, especially those on Channel 4, who displayed a hash tag at the ad break, but now there’s probably one for Bargain Hunt, Scrapheap Challenge and Frozen Planet.  It seems that for the modern TV viewer, one screen is by no means enough!

If you have no idea what I’m on about, I’m referring to the great big conversation that happens 24/7 on Twitter, that influences trends, sparks all sorts of controversy and news stories, with rumours, comments and jokes spreading like wildfire.

For me, it all started when I watched the Mercury Awards this year.  I’d just fallen under Twitter’s spell and followed people’s commentary and predictions through Tweets as I proclaimed avid support for King Creosote and Jon Hopkins.  When PJ Harvey won, it emerged that there was a software developer called Phil Harvey using the ‘assumed’ Twitter account for the winning singer, who got loads of unwanted attention as he received congratulations…and eventual ‘twisticuffs’, as people decided there could not possibly be more than one P J Harvey at that moment in time. It made a quirky little news piece for my blog.

I was amazed at what emerged out of following a trend on Twitter when a TV programme was on.  It seems a lot more people tune in to a particular programme than comment on some important current affairs but hey – it’s entertainment.

The one that gains the most Twitter comments is X Factor, for a large chunk of the week it becomes a top trend.It’s a little bit sad but if you’re watching TV on your own, joining in the Twitter conversation gives you millions of sofa buddies at the click of the mouse.  It definitely makes it more entertaining.  For example the other day on the X Factor there was some production guy running across the screen and everyone on Twitter was saying ‘Who is the guy running across the screen?’  People offer up really funny comments about things that you hadn’t come up with yourself but you can retweet them so that your Twitter feed displays comedy.

Another pro to the great Twitter/TV conversation is that you can talk to your Twitter buddies about TV shows and also network and gain followers as loads of people are following the trend.

The dark side of the Twitter/TV conversation is probably worst for those featured in the programmes.  It’s much easier to make negative comments about people on Twitter and the great thing about Twitter is that it showcases a range of opinion more elaborate than you thought possible.  This, of course, means that there are loads of ‘haters’ out there.  TV offers a certain escapism and then the Twitter part means that comments you might have just said before for your sitting room to briefly hear are now published for the whole world to see.

I was watching My Transsexual Summer the other day and found that all those featured on it had Twitter accounts.  Although this programme sparked tonnes of support, it inevitably sparked some comments which could be hurtful if they were about you. I read Sarah’s Twitter feed which said ‘I don’t think I should be looking at the comments on the #transsummer feed.’

One thing to be careful of is you can get in trouble for things you say on Twitter – not everyone realises that.  But when it’s used for positive purposes, it opens your perspective to see other people’s opinions and also enhances the entertainment value as you have thousands of great sense of humours combined.  (And crap ones and stupid people who you can laugh at anyway.)