Richard Smith: We need more Tweeters

Richard SmithFar too few people Tweet. I’ve just been teaching a class on getting published in Buenos Aires, and only one of 60 researchers Tweeted. “Writing and publishing the paper,” I say, “is the easy part. Getting an audience is the hard part, and Tweeting can help, especially if like Ben Goldacre, you can accumulate 50 000 followers.” But more importantly Tweeting can be a lot of fun, and I thought that I might share this interchange in the hope of urging non-Tweeters to start Tweeting.

The interchange started with me posting my “ingredients for health,” something I’d had to produce for an interview by an Austrian newspaper.

Me: Ingredients of health: a network of important relationships; a secure income; meaningful work; access to clean water and sanitation; comfortable housing; lots of physical activity; a healthy diet (many plants, little meat); and little use of alcohol and no use of tobacco.

Childhood friend: 5 out of 9

Irish GP: 5 out of 9, probably same 5.

Irish GP: Plus you forgot having a big shiny car and living next to a big fancy hospital

Californian futurologist: It’s hard to get beyond 5 without being well behaved

NHS manager: Is this like the book list: you have to highlight the ones you’ve got?

A secure income – not for much longer

Meaningful work – if someone can tell me what is going on…

A healthy diet – no, I am comfort eating

Little use of alcohol – LOL

No use of tobacco, but now that we’re back in the 80s I might start again

Second Irish GP: Both of those [big hospital and big car] are negative factors. We GPs spend our lives trying to save people from the dangers of hospitalisation. And as for car crashes :-O …

First Irish GP: nothing is more important than a big shiny car

Second Irish GP: Health, wealth and the pursuit of happiness (who’s happiness …)

First Irish GP: If there’s a God up in heaven/He’s got a Silver Thunderbird

American translator (of Irish origin) Going on my 11th year of being a vegetarian (unless one counts the time I had a few too many drinks and forgot that I was a vegetarian…)

Indonesian health researcher: I am the same way about alcohol consumption – too many vegetables and I forget that I don’t drink.

You might think that you shouldn’t waste your precious time with such trivia, but it’s a great way to start the day. I might have added “lots of opportunities to laugh” as my 10th ingredient of health, and, as Kurt Vonnegut said, “The meaning of life is farting about.”

Richard Smith is a former editor of the BMJ.