This morning, Micah posted an interesting take on this thing we call Twitter. We've been talking about it quite a bit lately, especially since reading a fantastic article in Vanity Fair about female power Twitter users like Felicia Day. Originally, I was going to post my thoughts on the "problems" that Twitter causes and fixes, but then I realized something.
[Twitter is a Religion.]
(You heard it here first.)
At first, this conclusion might seem outlandish -- even offensive -- but mull it over for a moment.
Many people don't know the first thing about Twitter, why it's important, why it's a phenomenon, and frankly they don't much care. Much like inheriting the religion of their ancestors, they have inherited the "old-fashioned" ways of interacting with their friends and family, like talking to them on a non-mobile telephone, even if it's a cordless telephone. Those of us who grew up (or woke up) during the past two decades have migrated to using less-intrusive (if less personal) methods of contact: e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, text messaging, and Instant Message chatting -- not necessarily in that order.
How many of us even have a landline, anymore? I haven't had one in close to 10 years unless you count using my parents' for a brief stint, which wasn't technically mine (by the way, they have since began using Vonage).
Doesn't Twitter have that air of exclusivity, of elitism, about it? I tweet from my iPhone, proudly, so aren't I a yuppie geek snob? No, because Twitter is available to everyone, and it has been endorsed by the king of cool, himself: Ashton Kutcher. Kutcher, himself, has over 4.5 million Followers. He's not really the equivalent of Twitter God, though, since he doesn't really control the platform.
[Ashton Kutcher is more like Twitter Jesus.]
You can aspire to have 4.5 million Followers, but you'll never reach it. Much like the original Jesus, his perfection is unattainable -- all you can do is "follow" his example. Pun.
Twitter may only have one Ashton, but there are many we could consider saints or prophets -- real and otherwise. Felicia Day, for example, has over a million Followers. People like her pave the way for new ideas and topic trends, as prophets once did, while spammers enjoy the occasional "false prophet" moment of sending you a phishing link.
Twitter has changed our behavior, even our moral code. Until you become a prophet yourself, it behooves you to follow those who follow you (even if they are a restaurant you've never been to, and don't plan on visiting). Twitter has it's own dialect, speaking in @signs and #hashtags and ReTweets. It also has weekly rituals like #FF (or #FollowFriday) and strange cults like #ITweetNaked.
I think I've made my point.
The reason I bring this up is because I have been purposefully involving myself more with Twitter these days. A few weeks back, I linked my Twitter to Facebook so that when I tweet it automatically updates my FB status. Not only is this convenient, but it allows me to "talk" to more people than posting only to one or the other. As Micah pointed out in her post, I am attempting to promote the release (re-release?) of my book, The Ninth Avatar.
[Like any religion, I am finding with Twitter that you get out of it what you put into it.]
If you're not tweeting, no one is listening -- this should be obvious. Sometimes, though, when you are tweeting it still seems like no one is listening. The nature of Twitter is that each update is a short message, a maximum of 140 characters long. This makes for quite a few messages, nearabout 40 million per day, so it's a lot to ask for people to read or pay attention to every tweet (even though they don't see all 40,000,000 but rather just the ones from the people they follow).
I, personally, follow about 75 people and to be honest before I got my iPhone it was literally impossible to keep up with all of their messages. Even now, I end up skimming through many of them because they are responses to other users.
[Even retweeting interesting posts isn't a guaranteed path to success.]
What I'm finding is that, when you follow someone, it's likely you know each other and have similar "audiences," so if they didn't care the first time the message was posted they're not likely to care that you also thought it was important. Ultimately all it does is reduce originality in the Twitterverse, not that there is much to begin with, and not to imply that that's such a bad thing anyway.
I've been trying to engage more with the Twitter community and, in doing so, I have engaged in behavior that people complain about:
Namely, inane updates about what I ate, drank, or what I pulled out of somewhere
Fortunately, I think that's part of the game. Not every tweet needs to be profound, life-changing stuff. Not every tweet needs to be promotionally-minded, or even professional. Just like with actual religion, it wouldn't hurt to avoid taking it so seriously once in awhile, and remember why it exists in the first place.
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