My Email to Nadine Dorries

From the blog of Nadine Dorries MP

“Twitter Obsession

Posted Thursday, 30 September 2010 at 10:57

I will post my article in Iain Dale’s book shortly, with his permission. In the article, in which I very clearly define the reasons why MPs should not blog or Twitter (yes, I know ) I mention someone who has posted 22,000 tweets in four months.
Today, someone has emailed my office with the details of a political/personal Tweeter who has posted 35,000 tweets in a similar amount of time.
I’m going to have to set up a Twitter account again so that I can check this out for myself!… Not.

Is there such a thing as Twitter addiction? How can anyone live a normal life who can do that? Surely these people cannot be in employment because if they are, how can they work? if they aren’t then it’s time they got a job which involves being sat at a key board because there’s nothing much up with their fingers, brain or attention span!!

I wonder if very soon someone is going to identify a Twitter syndrome and we get to read about people who have become compulsive Tweeters. Will we hear stories of people who Tweet, oh I don’t know, say 50 times a day and need to go into re-hab?

I will put money on that being a Daily Mail story one day. In the meantime, do you know of anyone else who has Tweeted more than 35,000 times in less than six months? If so, email my office and let me know. Or, better still, if it’s someone you know is on benefits, contact the DWP.”

A response.


Dear Ms Dorries,

I am writing to you as a disabled citizen of this country. And a twitter user.

I have today read your blog, where you state that people who are on benefits and use twitter should be reported to the DWP.

I find your opinions on this matter worrying and shockingly ignorant.

For many disabled people, the internet has opened up a portal into a world of social contact. Many of us are socially extremely isolated. We may be limited in our ability to engage in the world by physical disabilities, or by mental illness. For us, twitter, and other social media, might provide our only human contact.

As you might guess from my email address, I have mental health difficulties. I have depression, social phobia and generalised anxiety disorder, among other diagnoses. The only human beings I see in the real world are a support worker (once a week), occupational therapist (monthly), and psychiatrist (monthly). Plus my mother, who I see once a week. Because of my mental health condition, I am unable to leave the house alone, without extreme anxiety or panic attacks. I lost my job in management 3 years ago. My marriage broke up 2 years ago. I have no friends. I am alone for about 95% of the week.

Since starting to use twitter a few months ago, I have come into contact with other disabled people, who are also socially isolated. And others who are less socially isolated, but for whom twitter has provided a way of meeting people with similar interests or outlook. These people have opened up the world for me. They have made my life less restricted and sterile. I have conversations with them, in much the same way a less restricted person might when meeting a friend at a cafe or pub. This is what twitter is for me – a method of making friends.

Would you have me close my twitter account, and go back to staring mindlessly at the television all day, or return to my bed? Or would you like to report me to the DWP yourself, for trying to have some sort of social contact with other human beings?

I look forward to your reply.

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29 thoughts on “My Email to Nadine Dorries

  1. Pingback: Nadine Dorries is a Twat (AKA Why I Love Twitter) » Confessions of a Serial Insomniac

  2. Pingback: Society daily 01.10.10 | United Kingdom Society News

  3. Pingback: Just mind your own damn business Nadine Dorries « Harpymarx

  4. Thank you for your reply, I think you’ve summed up the thoughts and feelings of many mentally ill and disabled people. Myself included.

  5. Pingback: @Nadine Dorries « www.mentallyinteresting.org.uk | The Secret Life of a Manic Depressive

  6. It turns out that Nadine Dorries had a specific purpose in mind when she wrote that blog (and an additional one continuing the theme later yesterday). It completely boggles my mind that an MP could behave in such a childish and vindictive manner to one of her constituents, but if you read the link below you’ll get an idea of what’s being going on.
    She doesn’t seem to care that in her spite, she has upset and worried many other people in addition to her target.
    http://barthsnotes.wordpress.com/2010/10/01/nadine-dorries-takes-revenge-on-twitter-critic-uses-paul-staines-to-push-smear/

  7. Fantastic post! You have reflected the feelings of a majority. For those who think this is an over-reaction, it was pretty clear from Nadine Dorries blog which direction she was coming from. The fact that in a separate post she refers to someone as a nutter just shows how ignorant she is. For a woman who can supposedly connect with all walks of life, having worked as a nurse and lived on a council estate etc, she sure has blinkers on…

  8. Good on you, very well said. The hypocrisy of this woman blogging about other people’s use of SM is rich beyond belief. Twitter enriches people’s lives in so many ways. What business of hers is it anyway? I do worry about overtweeting myself, though I’m a little shy of 35,00 landmark just yet!

  9. I can only assume that someone who uses phrases like ‘should be forced to get a job’ must have somehow skipped reading or watching the news for the last three years – quite a feat! I doubt that employers would not really thank any politician who pushed the least able or motivated to the front of the queue ahead of the other three million.

  10. I can’t respond on La Dorries’ blog so I’ll respond here. She has no more idea of the possibilities of social media to connect people for all sorts of reasons than she has of what lies on the far side of the moon. She doesn’t see the links which flow from one person to another. If anyone else were to suggest that people who Tweet too much be reported to the DWP, I’d think it were a joke. Sadly, that’s not the case here.

  11. Pingback: Dorries: report people who Tweet too much | Liberal Conspiracy

  12. Excellent email! I don’t think this is being ‘taken too personally’ at all by the disabled people and other benefits claimants reacting to it. Nadine is an elected representative and therefore should know her views have influence and that she needs to word her opinions very carefully. Just like her expenses claims.

  13. Great, restrained email which might make Dorries think about the actual people that she’s hurting with ill-informed ramblings like this. (We can hope, anyway.)

    Paul, if that’s what she meant, then perhaps she should have SAID that.

  14. Social networking gives you friends, colleagaues and associates. It takes you out of your immediate circumstances and introduces you to a whole range of people you would never meet normally.

    If you have a stigmatised illness social networking helps you bridge so many boundaries and it gives you an opportunity to bring yourself up to date on a whole host of work skills.

    No serious politician with an eye on our technological future could seriously begrudge people with disabillities the chance to use suchy tools. But then how serious is Nadine Dorries? I suspect she simply wants to frighten benefit claimaints and please her right wing fans.

    To see further comment from me on this visit the New Statesman blog:

    http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/the-staggers/2010/09/nadine-dorries-palin-bagshawe

      • Yes indeed Penelope. But actually I think what is going on at the moment is much bigger than benefit claimants being frightened. It’s everyone on or around minimum wages (the fear that the safety net is being removed). It’s pensioners being bullied into spending their savings. It’s public sector workers and private sector ones which depend on public sector contracts. Fear and hatred is being peddled wholesale and it’s infectious.
        This has happened numerous times before in history when countries were in dire economic straits – the Thirties comes to mind (Brownshirts in UK) and of course much more starkly in Germany.

  15. You have taken this far too personally. She simply meant that people who CHOSE not to work – and, if we’re honest with ourselves, there are many thousands – should be forced to get a job. If you are disabled and CAN’T work, she was not talking about you. Why does everyone seem to enjoy overreacting so much?

    • Except that Dorries’s post states, pretty explicitly, that if you’re capable of using twitter, you’re capable of working. She shows absolutely no understanding of the complex nature of mental health.

      • She also shows no understanding of invisible disabilities such as chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia and, my disability, multiple sclerosis that mean one or two (or, yes, 50) 140 character message(s) on Twitter use(s) up a lot of “spoons” or energy before meaning that we have to sleep – that there is no way that we could work a nine to five job without sleeping four or five times during the day. Yes, I can walk. Sometimes. Sometimes I cannot walk straight and look drunk despite never touching a drop of alcohol (I could not with all of these meds, anyway!). I use a cane in case I have one of my vertigo episodes. Yes, I have higher rate DLA. I rarely go outside and the computer (other than my hubby and cats) is my only social life (Twitter, LiveJournal and World of Warcraft).

        • P.S. My non-computer-literate therapist likened to social media like LiveJournal to group therapy. Just because I can Tewwt or blog from my bed or the desk and chair one metre away from my bed, it does not mean that I can leave the house regularly or reliably – my symptoms fluctuate in severity from hour to hour.

    • Count me in as another who took this “far too personally”. Me I’ve just finished a teaching qualification because I’d dearly like to receive the right support to be able to work with my disabilities.

      Use of information technology (including social networking – i.e. Twitter use) is now deemed to be one of the three FUNCTIONAL Skills – i.e. essential for getting a job. The other two are literacy and numeracy. That’s one thing I learned.

      If you were a hard-nosed benefit assessor, you might ask claimants what they have been doing/planning to do to improve their functional skills, for employability or to become as useful a citizen as they can be. Ah you tweet do you? That’s fine then.

    • Didn’t you even notice that she emphasizes only ‘physical’ illnesses? Not a word about us radio rentals. She probably feels Mental Illness doesn’t even qualify as a disability. Do you share her view?

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