To Tweet or Not to Tweet – Is That the Question?

I am reluctantly coming to the conclusion that I am not as young as I used to be. But, then again, who is?

And does it matter?

No, not really. Unless you are looking in a mirror, of course. What really counts is your attitude towards life. And that’s what is beginning to worry me.

Because I have started realising that my attitude is changing.

Now, before you get the idea that I am a grouchy ‘things used to be better in my day’ technophobe, I should point out that I know how to programme my television, and attach digital photos to webpages, and create links. I can find almost anything on the internet, quickly. Phone apps were developed with me in mind. I’ve just Skyped my sister-in-law, in Florida. I blog.

I am definitely a fully paid-up member of the 21st Century.

But, things may be changing, because while I am certainly not too old to learn new tricks, I have definitely passed the point where I will learn them indiscriminately.

Take Twitter, for example.

I first heard about it years ago, but knowing the barest bit about it was enough to know that it wasn’t for me. I am, after all, a person who uses 10 words when one will do. A quick chat on the phone is anything that lasts under an hour; a short blog post is 1000 words or so. Besides, I like grammar, proper grammar. And correct punctuation. Except in this, and the previous, sentences. Obviously.

But, without my vote, it was decided that the new website at work was going to have a Twitter column and so I have spent the past day trying to master the art of writing for it. Thanks to Robin, a very patient person, I can honestly say that I now get it. In the sense that I basically know how it works. Use hash keys (#) to make something searchable, at signs (@) to direct your comments to where you want them to go. Tell the story in 140 characters, learn how to shorten the links, pick up the vocabulary. You use Twitter to tweet. Or even to Retweet. If a lot of people are talking about it, it’s a Trend. It’s not that hard.

But,  I really don’t get it. As in, why? Why would anyone want to do this? Why are there over 300 million tweets a day whizzing their way around the world? Is anyone actually reading them or is everyone just tweeting at each other?

Stephen Fry, who let’s face it may be a national treasure in Britain but isn’t exactly Hugh Laurie, has just a tad under 4 million followers.

Four million people want to be kept informed of pearls such as:

Apparently “a weather bomb” is heading for us here in New Zealand. Sounds alarming. I shall huddle under the covers until it passes. G’night.

But, at least he’s famous for being intelligent, so I suppose you can live in hope that he will eventually tell you something you might want to hear.

Ashton Kutcher, on the other hand, isn’t:

I may have been an ant in a past life. I can sense my enemies.

Uhmmm…ok.

And he has almost 10 million people reading this. Ten Million. That’s about five times the number of people who go to church on a Sunday in Britain.

What is going on?

Well, according to Grant, the very nice ‘Social Media Marketing Expert’ who came in to the office the other day, the reason everyone is using Twitter is because it is ‘the key to the door’.

What door?

Every door, apparently. The way to stay connected to your world is through Twitter. If you want to grow your business, use Twitter. Want to get more people visiting your website? Twitter. Thinking of starting a revolution? You need to learn how to tweet. And if you are trying to write a book, don’t. At least not unless you have first mastered the art of capturing people’s attention in a limited number of words, or rather, characters. 140 of them. Max.

I have to admit it, I was sceptical. No, it was more than that, I may have actually  snorted. But then he showed me his fiancée’s blog, the one she started two months ago, about getting married. After a month she had a handful of followers, mainly her mother, his mother, and the bridesmaids. She was upset about her lack of a following, but realised that being engaged to a social media marketing expert as she was, help might be at hand. And so, she asked him what to do.

“Tweet”, he said.

And she did, frequently. And in every tweet, she linked back to her blog. The blog which now, a month later, has over 1000 followers. Yes, 1000 followers, in a month. And all those people are reading about a woman they don’t know organising a wedding that they will not be attending.

I know. It’s madness.

But, while I don’t understand the attraction, I suppose I am willing to give it a go. After all, if I spent the time learning the difference between a tweet and a retweet, I might as well put it to some use and see what happens.

I’m not happy about it though, unless of course, there are 1000 people reading this. In that case:

I may not have been an ant in a former life. I can sense my readers, but not my enemies. Or “weather bombs”, whatever they are.

Not Leo Tolstoy (aka Eileen Riley)

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4 Responses to To Tweet or Not to Tweet – Is That the Question?

  1. So what’s your Twitter name?

  2. Susan Okaty says:

    I love this. My daughter se time up with a Twitter account and linked my blog to it so that every new post automatically is tweeted without me having to do anything. That’s a good thing, because I don’t know how to tweet on my own. I didn’t know about hash marks or @ signs. I do not have a smart phone, so I don’t know how to follow Twitter quickly. Do people without smart phones just sit by their computers all day and tweet and wait for tweets to come in? I’m visiting my daughter at the end of the month, so maybe she’ll give me a tweeting lesson. Great post, Eileen.

  3. Eileen Riley says:

    Thanks very much Susan. Twitter on smart phones, so you can hear everyone’s every thought the second they have it. All the time. Aaaagh. I’ve reacted to all this brave new world stuff by spending the weekend reading medieval murder mysteries. Things seemed simpler then – try not to starve to death or contract the plague.

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