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