Grace Dent’s latest literary offering is a 198 page hug. The kind of hug you get from your Mum just after she has told you off for being very bad indeed. A hugthat knows you couldn’t help yourself, couldn’t stop yourself from inflicting pain that turns into self-loathing.

‘How to leave twitter – My time as queen of the universe and why this muststop’  is a how to kit for knowing when you have just taken things a little bit too far and have become detached from real life.

The book begins with a list of 100 things about Grace and twitter. You will read it and cringe as you realise at least 75 apply to you. This isn’t a bad thing as Grace herself has admitted that they are about her and her relationship with twitter, but they will provide food for thought and are an excellent introduction to the book and its point.

It's impossible not to love Grace

For those who don’t follow Grace (@gracedent) then you’re missing out. For those who don’t know Grace’s work, you are also misses out. She is an incredible writer who has a must read column in the Guardian guide and has published on many other platforms. Worth a google.

Like so many tweeters you just extract what you want and disregard the other stuff. I like when Grace tweets about Eastenders, despite not being an avid viewer I know enough to laugh at the jokes about characters and plotlines. I have never watched The Killing and as such choose to ignore those bits, you get the idea.

We all have something to learn about the bridge between real life and social networking. I used it to interact socially with people with a common interest, for work and career networking and to follow a few celebrities. I do sometimes find the line between twitter and real life blurred but I have in the past enjoyed tweetups with great people who work in my industry and I have discovered great writers through it. I have also found myself trapped when following someone who spouts so much bile and who I was worried about unfollowing lest the unleash it on me, though this morning whilst reading the book, I did manage to unfollow them and so far, no recriminations.

A key theme that runs throughout the book is that you should treat real life and twitter in much the same manner. You would not walk down the street and shout abuse at a stranger, or go up to someone and expect them to listen to your every whimsy even though you quite obviously haven’t got anything in common.

Many readers will smugly think, oh that’s common sense, I would never do that. I was one of them readers but a brief period self-reflection, I knew that I needed to modify my online behaviour. Every time I log on now all I see are the stereotypes that Grace mentions and as with all stereotypes, they are based in very intelligent observations of others. The one stereotype that bothers me most are the people who will retweet (RT) anything.

“@football_hero you’re amazing and I loved watching you play. RT pls?”

Why would anyone RT that? I don’t believe it is an example of people self-promoting their achievements because that made up example is exciting compared to some of the crap people pass on. Much of it is a comment on something current, my examples mainly relate to football, and people ask for their point to be RT’d. It is mainly middle aged men that do it and I have no idea why and even less idea why the person asked to RT something do.

You will laugh and blush as you walk hand in hand with Grace through her experiences on twitter and you will close the final page believing that you can change your ways. I hope I can but probably not to the extent I should being so I will undoubtedly post this on my twitter and ask people to RT it.

As someone who works in PR, I could not think of a better example of a book to show the people in charge of social media at your work as an example of how not to conduct yourself on twitter. It has the capability to be used as much as a marketing tool as it is to be used a fine piece of writing.

Grace is entertaining throughout and I cannot recommend this book highly enough to those who do actually use twitter for more than telling people that you’re having a shower now.

As an end note, the first tweet I read from Grace after I finished the book was “@gracedent about to take Britain’s most pregnant woman out for lunch. Beware London”. I guess it is sometimes a case, and my Grace’s own admission, a case of do as I say, not as I do.

£7.99 well spent, cheaper than the priory.

The picture in the piece is of a signed manuscript I received from Grace after she said she had a few to give away on twitter. I was at Glastonbury very drunk when she made the offer and I only turned my phone on and checked it my chance. Twitter can be wonderful.

In case you’re interested, I have written further on the topic of twitter at http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/dominic-stevenson/twitter-dont-abuse-or-it-_b_901564.html

You can buy Grace’s book online at http://www.amazon.co.uk/How-Leave-Twitter-Queen-Universe/dp/product-description/0571277748 but I bought my copy at The Big Green Bookshop, Wood Green – support your local book shops.

By Dominic Stevenson (@dom_stevenson)

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