Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Twitter Blues

Like most people, I tried Twitter on for size. Its austere nature was odd to me; no photos, no applications, nothing; Just one big message board. But I found it very immediate, lively, and addictive. The dangerous part; crashing, coming down.

At its best, Twitter provides instant conversation to whomever wishes to engage in it; you get to meet people, you partake in entertaining and educational talk, you communicate, you listen. At its worst you’re bombarded with idiosyncratic messages (called Tweets) that are indecipherable, and people post enough quotes a day to choke a camel. People on Twitter love posting quotes; they are ready-made for the Twitter- imposed 140 character limit. All in all, it’s been an experience. But there are bad side effects, one’s that I never expected.

People are people, no matter what form they choose to communicate in, and when you get them together you get the same social dichotomies that exist in real-life situations, offices, schools, clubs; we’re all human, and we all behave the same in social settings, whether it’s online via Twitter, or in the real world. For instance, cliques exist on Twitter, and so do opinions, and tempers, and loneliness, and jealousies, and about a thousand other human behavioral traits. There are smart people and dumb people, there are literary genii, and there are grammar school drop-outs who leave linguists swooning at their phonetic butchery. It’s a smorgasbord of humanity, and they all have an opinion. If you are not prepared to wade into this maelstrom, be forewarned.

Again, people are people, they will follow you, un-follow you, fight with you, love you, hate you, stick with you, abandon you, and everything else you can think of. But you must not take it seriously. You must not.

Perhaps a personal note is in order here. I feel affected sometimes by all the things listed above. I forget sometimes that people don’t always have to pay attention to me. People don’t always have to respond to me, or “re-tweet me”, they don’t always have to be there for me, because they have their own lives, and being online all the time and being responsive to only one person is not a priority. It’s just the way it is. When I’m a little tired, and my usual online cohorts aren’t being as responsive as usual, I start getting down. Not for long though. I know they lurk somewhere in the weeds, listening. And the good ones will always be listening.

I’ll admit though, Twitter isn’t for everyone. I’m a writer, and the forum seems to work for me because I talk to other writers and other interesting and creative people. There are many lost souls though, who use Twitter aimlessly; Bad idea; If I was only using Twitter to communicate randomly about random things to random people, I think I would drive myself nuts. To everything there is a purpose, and Twitter is no exception.

I mentioned Twitter being addictive; it is. Everyone likes to get messages. Everyone likes attention. And so you get to where you crave it. As a writer, Twitter creates a lot of inspiration, but uses up a lot of time and ideas. Sometimes I just can’t muster up even 140 characters; the well runs a little dry. I’ve read where people say they need a “Twitter break.” I can feel their pain, I really can. It’s easy to jump in the fray sometimes, when you’re feeling good, and there are hundreds of conversations going on, but sometimes it can be daunting because there are millions using the service, and you get to feeling like a small fish in a very big pond. This is not a good feeling. It’s easy to get lost on Twitter, where messages flash by at light speed and you can barely catch them. Tweets can disappear into a vast void instantly. But damn it all, it’s so hard sometimes not to take it personal. Is it all just a popularity contest? Am I winning? Am I losing? Am I anything?

You may or may not relate with anything I mentioned above, but a lot of people do. Creative people are often sensitive souls. We’re forever searching for that writing nirvana; a place where you can be accepted, and things will be perfect, and people will be perfect, and all your ideas will be perfect, but let’s face it, there is no enigma greater then a human being, so don’t expect any of this perfectness. If you wish to take part in the Twitter experience, you partake in the human experience; you’ll fight, you’ll cry, you’ll laugh, you’ll love and you’ll hate. And if you need to take a “Twitter break” by all means do it. I did, and now here I am, venting my feelings. And it feels great.

And now, I can go back to Twitter, knowing that it’s not personal, it’s just life.

David Hunter, The Writers Den


  1. Interesting post. I think you hit the nail on the head when you say,don't take it too seriously. I think you seem to find a group of tweeters that you find the most interesting, maybe because of their location, hobbies, interests etc and sometimes can ignore other tweets around you. When you're following more than a certain number, it's pretty impossible to keep up with anyone isn't it?

    Twitter on the whole is an interesting concept. It does breed creativity, for me it was the push I needed to start my blog and the start writing my book. Because I got given encouragement and the platform to express the things I wouldn't maybe do so to my real life friends for fear of being mocked...

    It has it's time and place, it's imperative not to get offended or upset by the goings on, of course we're human and it's hard not too especially when something is said that's close to our hearts.

    I for one, love you tweets!

    aka @rachaelblogs

  2. Well said! I am one who can relate to the "Twitter blues". It's amazing the effect something so seemingly arbitrary can have on your psyche. Having been a so-called popular kid, I catch myself constantly checking the follower count to see if I'm gaining ground & wondering why a follower has jumped ship when the count goes down. I have finally accepted the venue for what it is and can appreciate the quality of my Twitter friends without getting caught up in the quantity. Twitter has been a wonderful resource for an aspiring author. After all, I've connected with great writers, present company included. Thank you for putting it in perspective.

  3. I love people. But even more than that, I love them at a distance. Not every single one; not all the time. But by and large, yes, that is so.

    One aspect of Twitter that I find overwhelming is the magnitude of voices. Every one of those I follow is one person, with, as you write, all that makes a person. One-on-one that can be too much on ocassion. But to listen to, and, in a way, feel, too many of them, sometimes... Man, sometimes that's just too much. That's when I have to leave Twitter for a couple of hours, or even for the rest of the day.

    Then, I miss many of them. Others, I must admit, I unfollow. Especially those that over-quote and are single-themed (love, love, love; hate, hate, hate; buy, buy, buy).

  4. Ha! Cliques on Twitter! So true.

    Bet you'll get a lot of people to click on this post if you tweet about it. Because tweeps love to read about Twitter. (My post about Why Writers Should Use Twitter is still the most popular on my blog.)

    Dare I say I think you're allowing yourself to get too sucked in? Remind yourself that Twitter is, after all, a virtual world, not the real world. If you've got the blues, step away from your computer and back into your real life.

    Thanks for making me think!

  5. I love this blog. I think that I love it because it goes along with what a lot of people feel but are too afraid to say. Twitter can be inspiring for some but a playground for others. Those who don't understand Twitter are not like me, someone who has something to say right away. Keep up the interesting blogs.

  6. Hi David :)
    Yep Twitter is an interesting experience alright.
    I joined it and went and followed the Celebs. Imagine my surprise when they did not follow me back and asked me to ReTweet their requests for more & more followers! *which they hardly ever deigned to Tweet to* So I unFollowed 'em. Well, most of them anyway, I kept the ones which Followed me back or actually Tweeted me back.
    Then I found the writers.
    *blissful sigh*
    After that I found myself in a witty smart area of Twitter where the Tweets & Twitterers were articulate intelligent helpful and held a camaraderie which I embraced whole-heartedly.
    I have had to limit my time on Twitter however because it is addictive and takes time away from writing which will get me published which will let me actually meet these terrific Twitterers in real life at a convention somewhere.
    Plus I've made great Twitterfriends like you and Natasha!
    See you in the Twitterverse
    :) :)

  7. Funny how we get emotional over people we've never met. And I have
    such affection for my twitter friends. That was the unexpected part of my twitter experiment. And, yes, I'm hooked.

  8. I wrote a while back on my blog:

    "Online and off, we could all use a better sense of community. If you love relating to other people, if you are generous and empathy is your thing, if you enjoy having a sense of community and exchanging ideas freely, then online networking sites are a great tool for expanding, maintaining and embracing your social network. If, on the other hand, you tend to be abusive, rude, you don’t care about people, and only seek them out when you want something from them, social networking will amplify all this and give you a bad rep all around the planet! As the tools they are, it is important to learn how to use them responsibly and enjoy what we can build with them."

    I really enjoy Twitter now, but I am not really interested in who follows/unfollows. I try to tweet things that are about me, be as authentic as possible in 140 chars and take it lightly. I find it is a great change of pace activity for me and it does have some great aha-moments. It helps me to put my thoughts succinctly, but I would not like to always be limited. Sometimes writing needs a bigger a blog, a book, a notebook, a kindred soul!

    Thanx for a thoughtful post.

  9. very good! I'm glad you found twitter, so I in turn could read your blog. Keep it coming!

  10. I'm addicted to Twitter, and I need a 12-step program. Seriously, though, I found your post very insightful. I got caught up in the whole popularity craze at first, till I realized that by following other writers, I'd find my bliss.

    As in real life, you can't take every slight personally. Tweeps are wrapped up in their own hobbies and survival. They may un-follow me, but so what? I will meet new, better tweeps. Change can be good.

    The older I get, the less I worry about what others think of me; I focus on being authentic instead. Find your purpose and go after it full bore. Don't be one of the passive people who look back at age 70 and say, "Where did my life go and why didn't I make a difference?"

  11. Wonderfully written, beautifully put, precisely my own thoughts. Agree, Twitter is a bumpy road in which we travel. Heartbreak, laughter, joy and rejection all part of the journey. Will be following your blog from now on. All the best. (quillfeather)


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