For some people, the jury’s still out on Twitter. The social networking site which restricts individual posts to just 140 characters has been enthusiastically adopted by some and condemned by others.
More than 25 million people around the globe may have signed up to follow global celebrities like Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber, but the site has also been heavily criticised for the ease with which users can post vile abuse or damaging libels.
Some have had to face the consequences but others have escaped scot free, and the gates are still open for similar abuses.
But elsewhere in the twitterverse, there are countless other conversations going on – including some which are distinctly tongue in cheek.
Into that category comes Wiggington News – you can check it out @Wearewigginton if you are so inclined – which at first glance is a harmless community feed with a focus on one particular part of West Herts.
It bills itself as providing all the latest news and goings on from the beautiful village of Wigginton, and the feed is illustrated by a sober village welcome sign.
But once you start reading between the lines, the truth begins to dawn – it’s a gently subversive venture poking fun at the parochial nature of village life.
Oh, and the man behind it doesn’t even live in Wigginton.
He doesn’t live far away, to be fair, and he lives near enough to be cautious about revealing his identity in case any villagers who don’t get the joke think he is taking a liberty.
But how did it all come about? After establishing contact through Twitter – how else? – the author agreed to explain the birth of the feed, and what keeps him posting.
“It was originally set up as a bit of wind-up on a friend of mine who does live in the village,” he said.
“But it just went from there when others replied to say they liked my tweets.
“People where I live have always joked that Wigginton is a bit backward due to it being so rural, which is unfair.
“I just thought the idea of a small village like that having it’s own Twitter account was pretty amusing.
“I have always joked with friends in the village about things like Wigginton International airport, or Wigginton Casino , or plans for a new multi million pound shopping centre.
“Twitter is better than a blog, you can catch someone’s eye quickly with a tweet so it works well for Wigginton News. With a blog you have to rely on people reading the entire thing before they get the pay-off or laugh.
“The tweets I post are totally tongue in cheek, but obviously some people might take offence by them if they don’t have a sense of humour. A little bit of laughter goes a long way to helping people deal with their day-to-day problems, if someone reads my tweets and finds them funny then I do get a real buzz from it.”
And the mystery man is definitely in the converted camp when it comes to the benefits of the much-maligned site. He said: “I do use Twitter for business and personal use. It’s one of the best ways to keep up to date with the world.
“ You can find out what’s going in your area far quicker than the normal news channels.
“It also lets you interact with people you respect and look up to, or inspirational figures in your life, whether that be Cheryl Cole, Lord Sugar or Wayne Rooney.
“ It obviously can also be an unreliable or dangerous news source, as is being highlighted in the media at the moment, so I do think further controls or tighter laws will have to come in to place to prevent it being abused.
“ I hope this doesn’t ruin what is a great social media platform, though. As long as abusive idiots don’t ruin it for the other sensible Tweeters then I can definitely see it still being here for a long time to come. “
Other feeds which bring a touch of fantasy and humour to Dacorum life include Berkhamsted Facts (@berkofacts) and Hemel Hempstead Facts (@hemelfacts) where the comments tend to be more cutting than the Wigginton wit.
There’s also M L Empstead IQ (@hemelhaiku) which bills itself as a celebration of life in the town in the form of haiku poems. But if there are other comic communities that are gathering followers in West Herts but which haven’t yet been retweeted my direction, then please flag them up – you’ll find me on Twitter @edgazette, and I’m very happy to spread the word.
Sample Tweets from somewhere near Wigginton...
‘Clearly non locals in the pub again tonight, not only have they asked for forks to eat with but they were shocked the toilet was outside.’
‘The question on everyone’s lips in the village is who will be switching on Wigginton’s Christmas light this year.’
‘I have just called an urgent meeting as it would appear some villagers have been using Google to find out about life outside the village.’
‘A little known fact – some of the battle scenes in the movie Braveheart were actually archive footage from the 1987 Wigginton village fete.’
‘On this day in 1984 women were allowed to cry again in the village, rather than just put a brave face on and say “No, I’m fine”.
‘Absolutely exhausted after the village’s annual Tupperware audit. We are two large bowls down for the year, but up on rectangle containers.’
Next week’s showing of Deliverance should hopefully still be going ahead providing we can get a head cleaner tape for the Betamax player.’
‘We were alerted to an internet security breach last month when a Tesco Home Delivery van was seen in the village.’