The members of the #NEtwitterati (official hashtag of my illustrious honour) have been selected from hundreds of nominations put forward to The Journal, whittled down to five recommended accounts to follow in various categories, including Retail, Charity and Health, among many others. We are apparently considered to be the Most Influential People in Social Media, at least by a handful of local newspaper journalists, and our kind nominators of course.
I found myself included in the ‘Personality’ category, alongside the kitchen appliance carrying running legend @Tony_the_Fridge; ultra-runner extraordinaire @RunGeordieRun; blogging pub landlady @NorthernSnippet; and potty-mouthed Teesside Tommy @NowThenGadge. I think it makes me sound a bit like a chat show guest or reality TV reject – “Later on This Morning, we’ll hear from North East ‘personality’ Great North Mum, who’ll be discussing this week’s X-Factor, or something similarly inconsequential”.
Looking at it more positively of course, I was being honoured for no particular reason other than being me, which was heart-warming to say the least.
After learning of my inclusion on the list (via Twitter, naturally), I had a good look at the other shortlisted names in the publication, and there are some truly influential people in there – big business, charities, politicians. What qualifies me to be influential in any sense, let alone as a personality?
Alongside my initial positive response to the news, I was also a little embarrassed. Considering myself worthy of an accolade such as this felt a little bit like talking myself up in a job interview (focusing on our good points and achievements is not something people generally do very well) and getting recognition for just being myself is a strange feeling. So what have I done to merit any of this?
During my training for this year’s Great North Run, my first ever half marathon, I was called ‘inspirational’ by a follower after Tweeting one of my guest blog posts for The Running Stories. I never set out to be revered in such a way but apparently people were being inspired by my journey from running zero to hero(ine), and were actually gaining something from my blog posts.
Similarly, without wanting to toot my own horn, I have enjoyed undertaking plenty of charity fundraising this year, supporting both Tommy’s and Tiny Lives. I created Bids For Babies and ran three races in the name of the causes I feel strongly about, and continue to receive kind words of support from total strangers via social media. The very lovely lady who nominated me for the Twitterati, @MariaAlbertsen_, said she did so because what I am doing is ‘amazing’. Humbling praise maybe warranting a bit of horn tooting.
Far from being a frivolous waste of time, I have made some great connections through Twitter in my work, having personal interactions with some well-respected figures in the field of maternity which are invaluable for my professional development. I have had my opinions acknowledged and respected by health professionals far more qualified to comment than I; a very knowledge-affirming thing.
Ultimately, when I think about it, I actually have the power to influence many people, for many different reasons, and I think we all do. I just put myself out there a bit more prominently than others. The absolute majority of us will be experts in something, without even realising it. Sometimes all it takes is for someone to say that what you’re doing is worthwhile, or they value your opinion, or they would welcome your advice. I wouldn’t claim to be an expert in anything but evidently people respect what I’m doing.
If you stop putting yourself down and start talking yourself up, who knows what you might achieve. Don’t be embarrassed or belittle yourself. You could be joining the list next year.
Of course, if you’re going to be considered a ‘personality’, you’re going to have to step up the hilarity a notch. The odd Bruce Forsyth joke and a couple of Tweets about cute stuff your kid says should do the trick.