Day Twenty: On Twitter

Or, a claim to fame of sorts.

It’s all about playing a game these days! Isn’t it?

Wait, shouldn't you guys be working instead of tweeting?

Well, I dunno about that. My blog about blogging seemed to elicit a response, and that was nice. But I planned to leave it at that until…

I’m a regular twitter user (see the handy side bar) and as I’m sure most people reading this are aware, so are many famous folk. I guess most twitter users follow people who have some kind of fame relative to themselves, and I’m no exception in this regard (in fact, many people seem to follow Stephen Fry and I think I may be one of the few who don’t because I’m probably also one of the few people who find him almost insufferable).

To wit, I only follow a few people. I’m not crazy mad on following those who’re never ever likely to acknowledge my existence – not that it really matters if they do or not, why should they? – It is a bit silly, in my view that some people get irked when their beloved celebrities don’t bother to talk to them, or are a bit dull on twitter. Are these people under some illusion that they MUST address their fans? That they’re somehow more than human, who lead infinitely interesting lives? (As an aside, I’m not entirely sure that the Mickey Rourke I follow is the actual man himself, but occasionally the user tweets something that is equal parts humours and interesting).

I digress.

Yes, I’m getting away from the point here. This is the relevant part: Being a fan of Edgar Wright and indeed a follower of him on twitter, occasionally I respond to his tweets, knowing full well that I will probably never get a response (but that’s pointless, I hear you cry. And perhaps you’d be right in harking that). So you can imagine my surprise when one of my comments was retweeted by him. The result? My twitter feed exploded with similar retweets (such was the nature of my comment, as you can see) – a Twitstorm, if you will. The actual “contact” with him, however flippant, remote and trivial it was is not the point here. Rather, it opened my eyes up to twitter as a medium.

They call it “micro blogging” (apparently I’m mad for buzz words). Could be true, could be marketing spleak. I dunno. Anyway, it was interesting to see people whom I would never, perhaps could never, come across in a million years speaking to me on twitter. This only happened over the course of an hour or so, but it was remarkable and the direct a result of having some kind of “contact” with a person who has an elevated status in society.

You’re a nobody on a social networking site. Seriously, be it on a blogging site, twitter, tumblr, facebook etc, you’re a nobody. Your opinion, what you say, is only relevant to a small group of people unless you happen to have achieved some kind of level of fame outside of the internets. Despite what people tell you, twitter doesn’t bring you closer to any famous person.

Oh look. I’m getting away from the point. Again.

Right. What I’m saying is, much like my blog on blogging, you must do an awful lot on twitter to get people to “follow” you. To be honest, I don’t play this particular game. Lord knows why people choose to follow me on twitter outside of the immediate circle of people I know in real life, I’m a pretty boring guy and I know for a fact that I come across as a really grumpy git on there. But in order to build a following you have to talk to random people. A lot. And follow random people. A lot. Perhaps even follow some famous people and follow some of their followers and so on. Thus, it becomes a cycle.

I live enough of my life out online, I don’t think I could take it if I had to spend anymore time in this domain. Most nights I’ll have my laptop on in the background as I do other things, just to chat to people when I get bored or whatever. Surely maintaining a huge list of virtual contacts can take up an almost unlimited amount of your time? When you put this into perspective, I suppose it’s understandable why some famous people don’t respond to every single person that speaks to them. Particularly if their followers is in the hundreds of thousands.

Anyway, the crux of the issue: if blogging is a game, then twitter is like the fucking krypton factor. Blogging is give and take, if you choose to engage in it then you can, over time, build a small following a variety of different ways. In twitterland, however, it’s very different. A lot of the time it can be all give for very little take, or vise versa (unless you’re famous) and it’s remarkable just how much quickly it moves as a medium. But unlike blogging, it affords other benefits. It’s instant delivery; you can share thoughts quickly and as a friend of mine pointed out yesterday, 150 characters cuts out any bullshit.

It is, however, more akin to a game than regular ol’ blogging is. One that takes much more time and effort and perhaps has even little reward than it.

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2 thoughts on “Day Twenty: On Twitter

  1. Great post.

    Some “celebs” are more keen to engage with us hoi-polloi than others, though. Graham Linehan in particular is a good follow, as he engages people in conversation like a “normal” person, asks questions and encourages responses. Kevin Smith is also very entertaining and thought-provoking, though his long answers can clutter up one’s timeline somewhat if he gets on a roll about something. I like it, though; it’s great to see some random’s comment inspire such passion from someone who could easily be cynical about everything.

    I’d disagree that there’s no reward in Twitter, though—for me personally, at least. The last few freelance writing gigs I’ve got have all come about because of Twitter. My work’s had exposure, retweets and all sorts of things all over the place. People take notice. Hell, the whole One A Day Project exists because of a bit of viral seed-sowing on Twitter in the first place which spread far further and wider than I ever expected it to.

    Twitter, for me, is my primary means of communication these days. I use it more than email, texting, phoning and IM. The only thing it doesn’t replace is good old-fashioned face-to-face interaction. Which is probably for the best.

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