Thursday, November 12, 2009

Twitter, and why I love it

I'm a full on Twitter addict. I love it. And I love it in ways I've never loved a social network. Not Facebook, not MySpace, not even the thrill of newness that was Friendster.

But it's not a love that came easily. In fact, I signed up for a Twitter account in the spring of 2007 after reading about how it caught on among festivalgoers at South by Southwest, but got confused and abandoned it for a year and a half. It was only in late 2008, when the site really started gaining momentum and getting love from the media, that I got back on the horse and started tweeting.

And I'm not even sure why I did, because it seemed like my words were just going out into the great chasm of the Internet. Hell, they were. I had maybe five followers at that point, none of which were actively logging into the site. But I just kept tweeting on, and tweeting about stuff that I liked, stuff that pleased me. Anything from music I was listening to, to curious sights I came across in day to day life, to rants, to notes from my travels, and a lot of other stuff in between. And along the way, I started following people who were doing things that interested me. Writers, mostly. Reporters I followed for my career in public relations, music bloggers, novelists, cultural observers, and Twitter celebrities.

Very few of these people followed me back, but I didn't care. I just kept logging on because I enjoyed it, and I enjoyed reading their daily observations and making my own in relative anonymity. (Very few of my connections on Twitter are people I actually know, and I kind of prefer it that way. Facebook is tiresome because no one really says anything that interesting - they're all afraid of offending their 'friends.' But I digress.)

I also enjoyed following and unfollowing people with impunity. Unlike Facebook, if someone I am following starts tweeting annoying/obnoxious/irrelevant/uninteresting shit (ahem, Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher, many other celebrity twitterers), I unfollow them with a quickness, and no hurt feelings or harm done. And basically, after a year of cultivation, I am following and interacting with some really interesting people who are bringing really interesting, relevant information into my life. It brings me so much knowledge and wisdom, it's like a personal Internet butler service.

And then the other amazing thing is that along the way, other people started to follow me. I have 189 followers right now, and granted, a lot of them are spammers or companies who are probably gathering info on me for marketing purposes, but still, there are a lot of people out there who actually might be reading my tweets! Thrilling. Even more thrilling is that some of them are published authors/writers I admire. Susan Orlean! Laura Zigman! Virginia Heffernan! Following little old me. Little old Jane Donuts. Who'd have thunk it.

Posted via web from Jane Donuts is Starting Over


Alex said...

While I fully respect your love of Twitter, I just can't seem to get into it. I think my beef with it is the following: You're supposed to say what you need to say in 140 character tweets. But now everyone just links stuff. So you're really not sticking to the 140 character limit. You're saying, "here, go to this 500 word article, elsewhere." And that kind of seems like cheating.

My thoughts on Twitter are heavily influenced by the fact that I only look at it on my phone, over the Edge network.

Jane Donuts said...

I hear you. I guess what I'm saying is that where I find Twitter really useful is in its ability to deliver targeted information on things I really care about. So in my case, I mainly follow writers, journalists, music people, some fashion people, and some design people, because those are the topics I'm interested in. I do like the interaction with others, but that's kind of secondary. If all tweets were just self contained statements in 140 characters, it would be a very different (and much less useful) place. More like the world's biggest collection of the world's shortest stories. Which is fine, if you're into that.