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Twitter: The most useless thing you’ll ever need

April 27, 2009

A few months back, I somehow discovered the “microblog” realm known as Twitter.  The best description I can come up with for Twitter is a public blog for those with ADD.  Members of Twitter, known as “tweeps” (more on that in a minute), can publish their thoughts, shout-outs, and what not (pertinent or not, related or totally random)- said what nots are known as “tweets”- as long as they do it in 140 characters or less.

If I remember correctly, I think I joined basically because Dawn joined to follow my cousin’s wife.  (Parts of my family are closer to Dawn than to me, but that’s another issue.)  To “follow” a tweep is to make yourself able to view their tweets; unlike Facebook, where you have to send a request to be someone’s FB friend and they have to confirm it before you can interact with them, on Twitter, you can follow a tweep without their prior consent.  It sounds a little like stalking to me.  A tweep can “lock” their tweets, which then requires their approval of your follow request, but apparently it is considered rude, or uppity, or snobbish, or stupid, or whatever, to lock your tweets.

Twitter seems to have all sorts of “useful” functions, most of which go way beyond my limited comprehension.  Tweeps can post links to pictures, web sites, even music tracks, using various services like TwitPic, TinyURL, and blip.fm respectively, just to name a couple of examples.  There is also an ever-expanding Twitter jargon dictionary full of all sorts of little buzzwords, many of which require removal of a word’s first consonant and substituting “tw” in its stead.  It’s like Starbucks- you have to learn a whole new language to be able to function properly in that world.

Anyhow, I occasionally participate in the Twitterama, but I still don’t “get” it.  Even the whole followers thing.  I follow several family members- my dad, my brother Jeff, my SoCal cousins Kristen, Lauren, and Amanda, etc.- and they follow me in return, and we occasionally tweet witty comments back and forth.  I have a few friends that follow me and I them, although several of them have yet to tweet anything.  I also follow and am followed by several “acquaintances”- some I’ve met once or twice, some I haven’t- such as fellow area bloggers and SJ-R reporters, among others, some of whom follow me because I started following them first, some the other way around.

I also follow some tweeps I’ll call “info-tweeps”- things like SJ-R’s Breaking News, SpfldBloggers.com, Birds in the Busch (all things Cardinals baseball), City Museum (the indoor/outdoor made-exclusively-of-materials-recycled-from-St.-Louis-buildings mega playground), among others.  These tweeps are kinda cool to follow in that they provide little snippets of information, many of which contain links to news stories, blog posts, etc.  I have also discovered, and started following, some fictional characters, odd as it sounds.  I now receive musings from Spongebob Squarepants, Darth Vader, and the entire Simpson clan as well as several of their friends.  Weird, I know.  But hey, who knew Lord Vader was so frickin’ funny?!  Even weirder is that Marge Simpson and Ralph Wiggum follow ME now.  Talk about bizarre.

Here’s the thing, though:  I have gotten notifications that I am being stalked followed by people I don’t even know.  At all.  Never heard of them.  Some of them are from here in Springfield, some of them aren’t.  I am not saying at all that I don’t want them to follow me- in fact I’m rather flattered (I guess)- I’m just kind of wondering how they came to follow me.  Perhaps more specifically, why they came to follow me.  I’m guessing that at least some of them must have done keyword searches (for heaven knows what), saw that I mentioned said keyword in one or more tweets, and decided I was follow-worthy.  That’s kinda cool.  Though I don’t follow all of them in return, it’s still sort of… neat… that complete strangers decided I’m “interesting” enough to want to follow my 140-character ramblings.

One other notable thing to mention is the concept of celebritweets (not sure if that’s my word or an already-coined term).  There seem to be more “fake” celebrities on Twitter- losers people posing as celebrities than actual celebrities, but none the less, A-listers down to H-listers are on Twitter, sharing their thoughts, plugging movies and appearances, and basically injecting the Twitterverse with shameless self-promotion.  Shaquille O’Neal, Britney Spears, hottie NBC Today Show anchor Ann Curry, singer John Mayer, numerous comedians, and countless other well- and not so well-known celebrities tweet with varying degrees of regularity and pertinence.

I follow a few celebs (those that I am reasonably certain are authentic), such as Kevin Pollak (great actor and underappreciated stand-up comic), the aforementioned hot news babe Ann Curry, the insanely funny Jim Gaffigan, and super wise ass Sarah Silverman.  I don’t bother following Ashton Kutcher, mainly because I wasn’t impressed with his “get me a million followers” campaign, but also because he’s married to Demi Moore.  I’ll NEVER understand that one.  WEIRD IRONY ALERT: I actually used to follow Demi Moore, but I stopped following her because she only tweeted about books she was reading and to spew diabetic-coma-inducing internet PDA’s to her husband.  It got a little hard to take.  I still think Demi Moore is one of the most beautiful celebrities in the world, but I grew tired of reading about her little fuzzy wumpums.

The thing about following celebrities, though, is that, because of the literally tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of followers they have, it is impossible for them to follow everyone.  There have been several times I wanted to say something [I felt was] funny to Kevin Pollak, but since he doesn’t follow me, he’d never see it.  That’s a big Twitter drawback- to fully orbit the Twitterverse, you have to follow not just your followers, but also your followers’ followers, their followers, their followers’ followers, etc.  Basically, if you don’t follow everyone that is on Twitter, you really are only privvy to about 7% of any given chain of conversation.  Which means if you try to interject something that someone you follow said to someone THEY follow that you don’t, you may well come off looking like an idiot, or at least putting your foot in your mouth.  Not that I’ve ever done that, I’m just sayin’.

Still, I can’t seem to stay away from Twitter.  If I go longer than about 15-20 minutes without seeing what “my tweeps” have to say, I get the shakes, I go into a cold sweat, and I get afflicted with everything from dry mouth to bunions to charlie horses to chlamydia.  Well, all right, maybe not that last one, but you get my point.  What fills me with this need to so frequently check people’s every 140-character thought?

And I thought Facebook took up a lot of my time and attention.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Kristen permalink
    April 30, 2009 8:56 am

    OMG, I am absolutely hooked on Twitter. I check it constantly. I swear, I need to get a life.

  2. Johann permalink
    April 30, 2009 11:20 am

    I am SO happy I’m not the only one, Kristen.

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