I follow the actor/comedian Ricky Gervais, who is a complete genius. I love his tweets and I love his work. But last night I took offence to one of his tweets, a joke ridiculing fat people in leggings. I didn't respond, but many others did. Ricky returned, defending his original tweet, and posting comments encouraging fat shaming by exclaiming that losing weight is simple and easy.
I couldn't help myself. I felt outraged. I responded to Ricky, explaining that eating issues are never simple. When he continued, I did too, with tweets to him about food addiction and compulsion. And he responded to me. Oh yes he did. He was reading my tweets. He was reading all of our tweets.
And guess what? He deleted his tweets. All of them.
This, people, is what I love about social media. Not that it made Ricky Gervais revise his opinion. God knows what he really thinks - maybe he is just concerned about being offensive, maybe he really did take it on board, who knows. But it allowed me, a little person, one of the masses, to be heard. It allowed me to communicate directly with an person of massive influence.
Five years ago, when I joined Twitter, I had no agenda whatsoever. I didn't intend to blog, or to forge a writing career; I simply came on board because celebrities were on Twitter and I was keen to see what they were saying. One of my first ever responses was from the actress Demi Moore and I was beside myself with excitement. (She had tweeted "Everyone needs to love each other!" I tweeted back "Do I have to? I have three kids. I'm exhausted from all the loving!" She responded "As long as you love yourself!" Shortly after, I unfollowed her. All the Ashton-fuelled love tweets were making me queasy.)
And then there was Mia Freedman. Mia was one of the first people I followed; I had always admired her, and was hoping to have a chance to engage with her. Well, I began answering her tweets, and we developed a rapport, and shortly afterwards I began writing for Mamamia. And that undoubtedly was my biggest career break. I am quite sure I wouldn't be here today if I hadn't had the opportunity to connect with her online.
These days Mia doesn't read most of her Twitter responses; she has publicly stated that she has deleted her @replies. And whilst I respect her decision - she receives a lot of vitriolic tweets and nobody needs to read those - I think it's a shame for those who admire and wish to connect with her. Unlike me, they will probably not have the chance.
Now, I suspect Mia is not alone. Most celebrities would receive hundreds or even thousands of tweets daily; it would be simply impossible to keep up with all of them.
But the fact that Ricky Gervais read and responded to his, and more - that he took the comments on board, and deleted some of his offensive tweets - gives me hope. Social media is still a formidable force. And Ricky Gervais is still a seriously awesome bloke.
And happily, I managed to screenshot the tweet. So here it is. Ricky, you can't delete me!
Helpfully circled in red in case you couldn't pick it