Sunday, July 27, 2014

Twitter Me This, Batman

I hate Twitter.  I love Twitter.  I want Twitter to die and go away.  I can’t live without Twitter.  Clearly, my relationship with this popular social networking site is giving me a touch of cyber schizophrenia.

When I first heard about Twitter I had already been using Facebook for about a year.  I heard about it (like I hear about pretty much everything happening on this planet—and beyond) on NPR while I was driving home from work one day about five years ago.  I remember thinking, “This is the most moronic idea for a website that I’ve ever heard.”  And I’ve heard plenty of moronic ideas for websites—many of which I came up with myself.

Facebook was a revelation; an idea at once so simple, yet genius.  Here was a way to reconnect with old friends, stay abreast of what’s going on in the lives of current friends, invite people to things without going through the disgusting routine of licking envelopes, and see pictures of cats grooming themselves in awkward positions.  What more could one want in a website?

But where Facebook seemed like a feel good love fest shared with all the people who have ever touched your lives, Twitter seemed like a narcissistic, ADD-inspired frivolity, hastily shared with strangers.  What could you possibly say of any importance in 140 characters or less?  And why would people who you’ve never met give a crap about what you have to say, anyway?

I ignored and/or mocked Twitter for a couple of years.  Then, sometime in 2010, I discovered that many people I knew and respected where not only using Twitter, but singing its praises.  “You can get breaking news instantly.”  “You can read witticisms from your favorite authors and actors.”  “You can share your ideas with the world.”  “You can see pictures of cats grooming themselves in awkward positions.”  Hmmm…eyebrow still raised, I decided to create a Twitter account in August 2010, just to see what all the fuss was about.

I didn’t see what all the fuss was about.  I followed some friends.  I followed some news outlets.  I read the innocuous tweets and didn’t really care.  Finally, on August 13, 2010, I decided to send my first tweet, which proved to be rather prophetic:

And Ironically, I did forget that one—until today when I decided to look at my first tweet for the purpose of this blog.  

I really wasn’t sure what I should make of Twitter, or how I should utilize it.  My first few tweets were all about tweeting, since the concept was new to me and I didn’t know what I was doing.  By my fifth tweet, on August 24, 2010, I decided to take the plunge and tweet about something other than Twitter:

This tweet—like my four other tweets before it—got no reaction from my 20 or so followers.  Had anyone seen it?  Did anyone care?  I had no idea. 

I was totally unenthused by the whole Twitter concept, and by the end of 2010 I tweeted all of eleven times.  In 2011, I tweeted just once:

I got no response.

I tweeted:

Silence ensued.

I tweeted:


I realized that part of the problem was that I didn’t have very many followers, so not many people were seeing my tweets in the first place.  But I had no idea how to get more followers.  Every once in a while someone I didn’t know would suddenly seem to follow me.  How did they come across me?  Was it something I did?  Was it totally random?  Was this an actual person or some sort of sentient machine?  I had no clue.

Eventually, the general lack of response from the Twiiterverse became dispiriting and I stopped tweeting.  A few months later I started again.  Then I stopped.  Then I started.  And on and on.  But lately, I’ve become much more active on Twitter because I discovered the power of the hashtag.  (Another earth-shattering discovery, I know.)  While I knew about hashtags for years, I had no concept of how to use them.  Who creates the hashtags?  How does one hashtag become more popular than another?  Am I allowed to create a hashtag, or do I need to get permission from some sort of tribunal?  My attitude toward hashtags are best summed up by this recent tweet:

And yet, as I stumble across hashtags and start using them, I notice that more people have started “favoriting” my tweets and following me.  How or why these hashtags come to be I have no idea.  I came across one that was #HappyBatmanDay.  Was it Batman Day anywhere else in the world other than Twitter?  Who knows.  But I tweeted:

And somebody who I don’t know “favorited” my tweet and started following me.  It was a Twitter miracle!

I still think that the whole concept of tweeting is frivolous and narcissistic, but suddenly, over the past few weeks, I can’t stop doing it.  A couple of years ago I started using my Twitter account to promote my blog.  Now I find myself in the odd position of using my blog to promote my Twitter account.

Follow me at @AndrewofAZ.