I, Probert

Former GeekPlanetOnline Site Editor Dave Probert is a man with an ear to the ground of the geek community. When that ground starts to rumble, our man in East Sussex has something to say...!


There are times when I despair of the virtual world I choose to enter on a daily basis. It can bring out the worst in people thanks to the anonymity that it offers and the relative lack of consequences.

Some days I find the wave of negativity online rather overwhelming. People ranting about TV and films and directing bile at the people behind them, with the kind of hatred traditionally reserved for mass murderers or brutal dictators. I can't picture living as one of these people who hate things so much and feel compelled to express that hate at length to anyone who will listen. Maybe it's a cathartic release that allows them to behave as normal members of society while out in the real world. Perhaps without the release valve of the internet they would just be ranting lunatics on street corners snarling at pigeons and shaking their fists at the sky. Whatever the reason, it can make the internet seem like an oppressive place sometimes, devoid of a sense of fun.

It was because of this feeling of negativity that our illustrious webmaster Mr Dillon felt the need to create GeekPlanet in the first place; and in turn the reason that I wanted to contribute and hopefully the reason that you, dear reader, have found your way here. It's nice to be nice and every so often you come across something or someone that reminds you that being nice is just great; for instance Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant's presence on Twitter.

I didn't really get Twitter at first. It wasn't until I actually started using it that I understood what the fuss was about. Through Twitter I have made new friends and contacts and generally had a fine old time. One thing that I didn't do much was follow celebrities. I know it is practically law to follow Stephen Fry but I didn't see the point. Twitter, for me, depends on a certain level of interaction. If someone is being followed by tens of thousands of people it's going to be hard to follow what is being said about them and interact accordingly. I have wavered on this only twice in the past. Once for British horror Empress Emily Booth (who was kind enough to follow me back in return and we have exchanged the odd tweet) and Charlie Brooker (who will never follow me back or even notice I am there which I'm fine with because watching him grumble about TV and enthuse about old computer game covers is worth just being a spectator for.)

The next time I broke my following famous people rule was when Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant joined. Following them was a no-brainer as I'm a huge Doctor Who fan. To be honest I wasn't expecting to see much from them, they are after all very busy people, but they have displayed an enthusiasm for social networking that has been lovely to watch.

They clearly have a lot of time for their fans. They take time to tweet people birthday wishes whenever they can (indeed they were both nice enough to wish me a happy birthday when Gillian asked them) answer questions and have silly discussions both with their fans and each other. They aren't trying to be self-consciously cool or angling for popularity, they are just two very nice people taking advantage of the ability to interact directly with their fanbase and it's a lovely thing to see happen. They have both been initially a little overwhelmed by the positive reaction they have received, but have now settled down and are tweeting like veterans. They have quickly garnered a large following not through posting crazy pictures of them and their celebrity friends or offering sneak peaks at their latest projects but by just coming across as genuinely nice people.

Whether it's Mr Baker asking for advice on what to do with the six tins of soup he bought on impulse but then didn't like or Ms Bryant asking advice on posting pictures so she can show her followers a chair that she has painted R2-D2 on as a gift for a young relation, their Twitter feeds are a joy to read. They are both lovely people whom I wish I could adopt as some sort of honorary Uncle and Aunt and the geek world is a nicer place with them in it. So, if you are not already, follow @Sawboneshex and @thenicolabryant and enjoy their pleasant conversation and saucy sense of humour, but above all discover the power of nice. We could use more like them.