About 48 hours ago, something amazing happened to me. With an overwhelming urge to do something about my anger and my situation on benefits I put my blog article on Twitter and I went viral. Well, it’s all relative, but getting 2,000 hits within the space of about five hours felt pretty phenomenal considering my previous most popular blog had attracted a mere 26 readers. As soon as @OwenJones84 retweeted it, the amount of hits my article received multiplied by 10 in about 10 seconds. Retweets and comments from around the world were racing down my laptop screen. It was exhilarating! By the time my flatmate got home about half an hour later, I was behaving like a celebrity and choosing my outfit to meet Philip and Holly on the This Morning sofa. When somebody wrote a reply saying ‘God bless you, Ellie’, I felt certain that sainthood was on the cards.
People could relate to my story. People were replying to me, saying thank you. People agreed with me. I felt so much less alone, more invigorated, and more confident. Naïve as it may have been, I felt that something would change now. I was moved by the responses. Old friends on Facebook, who I hadn’t seen for years, partly because of my shame (I feel sick admitting this) about my disability and being on benefits, were getting in touch to send their support. How wrong I had been to assume that people wouldn’t want to hear my story! One person re-tweeted, pointed an arrow at my name, and wrote ‘real people’. To me, there is no higher accolade. This made me check my big head, pronto.
The come-down from my fame has been sobering. The day before yesterday I had 2,000 hits, yesterday I had 500, and today I have had 50. I was heard, and I was heard hard, but just for a moment. Nobody from the government or even my local council has been in touch, as I naïvely fantasised they would. I, and the other ‘real people’, took a stand for a few minutes but now it’s back to normality. Is this the end of the road for the awareness and support I attained?
I need to keep going now. I was isolated on my own, but with the support of others, I felt like part of a nation. Now I know the power of speaking out and being heard. All of us, all of you, we must keep talking about what is right. We must keep talking for single mothers, for striking workers, for victims of hate crime. We MUST keep talking.