My tweet is in this youtube video! I’ve also had at least one tweet published in the local(ish) paper The Metro (I don’t even read that paper). Clearly, I’m famous! 😉
Discovering my cameo in that video yesterday got me ruminating about the uses – and power – of social media, and why I use it, particularly Twitter.
I used to be a massive Twitter-hater. This wasn’t based on having tried it, naturally: I hated the notion of limiting expression to such a small snippet. I still maintain that the soundbite society we live in is no good for us: we need to explore issues and discuss them in more than clichés; we need to realize that most of what happens are complex, many-layered things that the short form will simply never capture adequately.
At some point, however, I realized that the thing is: I must live in this soundbite world. I must express myself in this world. I started using twitter as a means to make me focus on and reach a point very quickly.
Left to my own devices, I can talk. I talk in layers. For example, I might start with topic A, then bring in topic B, then C, then D, which I use to make a point about C, so then I carry on with C for awhile, then I bring in E, until I’ve linked that back up with B, which I carry on with for awhile, til I reach the point about B that I wanted to make, which brings me back to my point about topic A. This is how I work.
Thing is, most people aren’t interested in the multi-layered discussion, especially in writing; because they are used to soundbites, they want a concise and to-the-point pieces. If something appears too long, they’re loathe to read it. So, when expressing myself for public consumption, I need to discipline myself to focus more tightly on the topic at hand. Enter twitter: if I can manage to express myself there, how much clearer and stronger will the rest of my writing become?
What I’ve found in twitter is many-fold: a brilliant way to keep abreast of what’s going on locally (much of Glossop is on twitter); links to ideas, photos, information, and more that I’d have never come across in my usual internet haunts; some companies that actually respond when their customers have a problem; a vastly more reliable way of following people than facebook1; and most of all, a good bit of fun along the way.
All that ruminated around my head yesterday. Today, I came across Wil Wheaton’s post about what to expect from him if you follow him on twitter2. I am obviously no celebrity, and 4,000 people have never looked at a picture of my socks, but otherwise I’m going to reiterate one of his points, since I agree with it so strongly:
The way I continue having fun with Twitter is that I do what I want with it, and I hope you’ll come along for the ride if you think it’s worth it. … [If] you just don’t think I’m very interesting, that’s cool — no one likes everything or everyone. … Just unfollow, and we’ll each go our own way, cherishing the time we had together and moving on. No regrets.
I must say, the lack of drama over following and unfollowing is another thing I truly like about twitter. At least, that’s how I treat it: it’s all a bit of fun. When an account stops being informative, interesting, and/or entertaining, I quit following it. I expect the same from everyone else – really, through all mediums.
If a piece of writing of any length doesn’t inform, interest, or entertain you, there really isn’t much point in reading it, is there?
- Facebook doesn’t show any user all the updates from the people, businesses, groups, and organizations that they’ve liked/friended/joined/etc. Making an interest list helps, and so does the browser plugin Social Fixer, but some posts still remain hidden, since facebook is so full of bugs. [↩]
- Also interesting from that post is the link to How twitter was born. [↩]