So I’m doing an introspective examination of my participation of all types of Social Media this week, and today, I thought I’d make like a bird, and fly over to Twitter and discuss the merits of whether “To Tweet or Not to Tweet.”
So about a year ago, I was freaking out about this new *although not totally new at the time, thing called Twitter. And the pressure to join yet one more time-consuming group that would suck up my minutes. I hesitated. Hemmed and hawed. Made excuse after excuse and finally threw up the question on my Facebook, asking my “friends” whether they were pro or anti-Twitting. The majority said, “Just do it!” and on a cold, winter’s night last November, I took the plunge and dove into the icy waters of Twitter. Because when you have no one following you, it can feel a bit chilly on this side the branches. [Think birds sitting together on a branch, with one sitting all by herself on a tree nearby. Yeah. The lone bird would be me.]
“What are they tweeting about?” Lone Feathers tweets, wishing she could be part of that conversation.
“You can!” One bird ventures over and tweets back, “It’s easy. Just follow me.”
And Voila, the phenomenon of Twitter explodes and I’m following everyone and his sister, mother, father, and brother. Because I want to hear the news. And the random and inner thoughts and goings on of all the people in the world I have a media crush on. Like Derrick Rose, Justin Bieber [don’t be a hater,] Sharukh Khan, and Oprah, just to name a few.
Then, a good friend mentioned, “Hey, you’re a writer, you should connect with other writers.” That made sense. So I searched and found as many Indian, female authors I could find and followed them. Then Y.A. authors. And then authors whom I’m a fan of their writing. And publishing houses. Newspapers. Magazines. Pretty much anything that had anything to do with writing.
Now I was up to “Following: 223” and “Followers: 2.” Yeah. A little discrepancy. But I didn’t let it bother me. Too much. It’s not like my tweets were entirely, “Follow me on Twitter. #YouKnowYouWantTo!” Only every other tweet was a plea for followers. Which the word itself sort of freaks me out. Because I do not want to be thought of us some sort of “guru” looking for disciples. Not the cyber-look I’m going for. Just sayin.
Anyway, the time came to form my first real tweets. And I was petrified. Only 140 characters to share a profound thought? Unheard of. And very challenging. For us talkers out there, this is like putting a vice grip on our tongues and saying, “Sum it up. No details. Just the facts. NOW!”
So I tried. And in the beginning, I had to tweek and cut and slice and shave my tweets time and time again. Because it’s really hard for me to keep it short. And sweet. And to the point. So I stuck to tweeting links to my blog posts in the beginning. With an occasional random tweet. And because I don’t even have to go the Twitter site to tweet, I don’t notice until almost six months later. Followers are up to 99! Woah! When did that happen?
As I scroll down the list of followers, my initial enthusiasm quickly wanes. I recognize several names, but then there are these random people and groups and companies that decided to follow me that are just that: Ran to the Dumb! You know what I’m talking about. Like t-shirt companies, health food stores, movie reviewers, and then some chick that looks like she’s looking for more than a friendship, if you know what I’m sayin! Yikes to the yikes… where’s that block button? And at first, I’m compelled to follow back at first. Isn’t that the polite thing to do after all. Not the freaky ladies. Just everyone else. And my followers rises. But it’s rather humorous. And I’m wondering why we get so caught up with numbers in this society. Platform. How many fans do you have? The numbers can be stressful, especially for a new writer whose potential publishers will want to know these figures so they can tell how many potential people will actually buy your book. Oh! The pressure!
Anyway, one day, similar to the day a good friend told me I had no obligation to “like” the guy in college who had a big crush on me [I know right? A revolutionary thought to say the least!] but it was hugest relief that I shouldn’t feel guilty for not feeling the same. And I released a similar relief-exhaling sigh when someone told me, “You do not have to follow back. Only if you want to.” Really?! Yeah to the yeah!
So what do I do now? Unfollow all the random people/groups I’m following now? That’s a lot of work, so I’ll just start from now on. And now I just giggle when I notice my numbers: one day five up and later that afternoon, five down. I’m convinced that the same five people are on the fence. They just can’t make up their minds whether to commit to following me or not. Or they want to see if I can figure out who stopped following me. Do you ever do that? Whether Facebook or Twitter, it can be quite daunting when someone unfriends you or unfollows you.
And I must admit, I’ve held back from un-friending because I don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. But there comes a point when enough is enough. I will send you a polite, “Can you please stop posting a buzillion links to your favorite things on my page?” and if you can’t, I drop the axe. Because life is short. And I’m not that nice. haha. Kidding. It’s not that serious. Yet, anyway.
Back to tweeting. What do you tweet in those 140 characters?
1. Quotes and Bible verses is a popular choice.
2. Links to your blog or other interesting information you’ve discovered.
3. Time-sensative opportunities: give-aways, freebies, contests.
4. Random information with hopes that your #Hashtag might be today’s most popular and you’d officially be a trend-setter. Without stepping out of your house? How’s that for resume building material!?! 😉
5. Political opinions. This was especially hot during the election season. Personally, I stayed away from this, because I don’t even vote for the same guy my hubby does, so why invite more controversy into my life when I have enough political debates going on in my living room. But…
Then one day, I followed the tweets during a Presidential Debate. And they were hil-to-the-arious. The hecklers with a serious case of ADHD were all awake and typing faster than the next question was asked, and watching political tv became a new form of multi-tasking. Watch a little of the debate, read a tweet, laugh. Retweet. Or Tweet back. Or tweet my own commentary. And laugh some more.
So for the last political debate, I jumped on board and tweeted like it was going out of style. And it was like a high I can’t describe. It must be the extrovert in me that just loves the company of comedians. I had more fun tweeting that night than the company Christmas party. And I didn’t have to wear heels!
Hubs was hoping I’d be more edumacated and vote responsibly if I watched the debates. Don’t know that that happened. Do know I made some friends. Virtual cyber friends, that is. Who enjoy heckling through the madness of life. Because, sometimes you just have to laugh.
*I’m sure there are a buzillion gifted tweeters out there and I’ve only discovered a handful of them. I do like the guy who says each evening, “Good night moon.” Just like the signature last tweet of the day consistency.
*Are you a tweeter? Do you fly with the five tweets a second folks or are you more of a once in-awhile songbird? Saving your best songs for the high traffic times of the day? And what about re-tweeting or sending @messages to someone famous? Do you do a cart-wheel when that person responds back? I do! 😉 … Still waiting for JB to respond to my request to perform at my birthday party. One of these years… Hey, you never know!