As I travel around our fair state, I frequently suggest to people I meet that they should follow me on Twitter. The usual response is that they A) don’t know what Twitter is, or B) they say “I’m on Facebook, and that wears me out enough as it is, I don’t think I have time for Twitter.”
I’m fundamentally opposed the idea of “Social Media” from the getgo (I don’t feel a need for LinkedIn, I was never on MySpace and I’m apparently the last man standing who doesn’t give a fig for Facebook) but I climbed on board the Twitter train a few years ago as an experiment. To my own surprise, I find Twitter much more comfortable a fit than other Internet time-sucking gee-gaws. The chaos of it all that scares some people away – it’s a neverending waterfall of short bites of global randomness – is precisely what appeals to me. Unlike Facebook, where people often feel a need to engage in pointless bickering and arguing, is cut short by the constraints of the Twitter system. When Twitter’s hot, it’s hot, and when it’s annoying, it’s easy to ignore.
It takes awhile to find your footing in the Twittersphere, and some SEO-minded types would probably say I still haven’t mastered it and am doing it wrong. I look at it primarily as a broadcast system to hype people, places and things that are meaningful to me, and to glean similar data from like-minded people. If you try to play it like Facebook and add everyone regardless of whether you care what they have to say or not, you’ll be bombarded in an ocean of junk and quickly get disenchanted. Choose your tweeps wisely and only communicate with people you really really want to, and you’ll do fine.
I view Twitter as microblogging – no different than any of my other blogs – not “Social Media”. Like a radio tower, I’m just broadcasting in mostly one-way communication, and whether you tune in to that transmission or not is entirely up to you. Though I do enjoy the occasional banter with strangers and fans on there, I prefer serious real-world friendships/alliances to idle digital chumminess, and let’s face it, if we’ve never shared a meal or a drink together, we aren’t really friends. But that’s easily remedied! Which brings me to…
Eating. Whenever I tweet that I’m eating or drinking somewhere, you’re always welcome to join in. If it was an occasion where company was unwanted, I wouldn’t be tweeting my location in the first place
Following. In general, I don’t follow anyone who doesn’t follow me, and I don’t follow anyone who I consider, at my whims, unnecessarily negative, spammy, or incoherent. I don’t feel obligated to follow anyone, truth be told, and have often toyed with being one of those ivory-tower people who follows no one. (If you notice that some tweeps seem to have immunity to my rules, well, yes, there are some lucky souls who I consider to be above the chessboard, “of both lands and both seas”.)
Manual of Style. I publicly thank anyone who follows me, regardless. I don’t bother to take the time to assess whether they’re bots or what. Thanking for re-tweets seems a bit crufty to me, so I don’t do that. And #FF (Follow Friday) is the ONLY time I do mass shoutouts. I tend to do manual RTs more than the traditional kind, especially if I think it’s important enough that I need to circumvent anyone who’s disabled seeing my RTs. If that bugs you, the unfollow button’s right over there. You’ll eat what we’re cookin’.
I’m interested in everything. Unlike a lot of tweeps who seemingly exist only to talk about one narrow topic, there’s very little out there in the human experience that doesn’t get scrutinized by my all-seeing eye. Thus, some have expressed bewilderment and even irritation that I sometimes tweet, in rapid succession, about all manner of subjects under the sun that interest me, from quantum physics to winemaking. I have all sorts of acquaintances from all walks of life. Tea partiers. Nudists. Ministers. Stockbrokers. Drag queens. NASA scientists. Parrot-heads. People. People from Ohio.
Twitter is not my personal diary. It may seem like it sometimes, but it isn’t. The vast majority of what goes on in my day-to-day life isn’t even mentioned on Twitter.
Smartphones. I don’t do smartphones. I just can’t see surfing the web on a digital doohickey the size of a pack of cigarettes. Half my tweets come from a laptop running Twitter mobile (which I vastly prefer to the unwieldy and over-coded actual Twitter) and the other half are sent as text messages via a conventional old-old-school cellphone. I bring all this up to remind you that unlike most of your other tweeps, I often am not looking at Twitter even as I’m posting to it.
It’s all a silly toy anyway. Twitter, like most Internet amusements, is trivial junk, so just loosen up and have some fun with it. Muck around with it. Poke it and see what it does for you. Don’t take it seriously. I don’t. (Despite having just written this lengthy column about it!)
Jeffrey Scott Holland is a native Kentuckian, painter, writer, actor, musician, paralegal – and interested in all things. He joins a growing stable of talented, interesting regular columnists for KyForward.com, bringing his gift of a well-turned phrase, quirkiness and humor to entertain and enlighten — and sometimes provoke — our readers. He can always be reached at any time, by anyone on the planet, at firstname.lastname@example.org.