Last fall I had an email conversation with Lori of Camp Creek, on my woes about writing and trying to build a blog audience. She had plenty of good advice, including something along the lines of Twitter is where it’s at.
Twitter rubbed me the wrong way from the start. A platform for boiling down thoughts into 140-character bits? As a lover of sentences, of long, languorous lines, it just seemed a move in the wrong direction. Seemed like a simplifier, a dumbing-down tool. Like everything that I don’t like about Facebook: how it’s a place for people to update others with banal information that needn’t be shared. In other words, I don’t want to read tweets or Facebook updates about your trip to Costco any more than I want to shop at Costco. (A high school friend who is as popular on Facebook as she was in high school showed me her wall. Someone from the old days had updated about a trip to Costco. Although he spelled it Cosco. As in goin to cosco!)
Those Twitter updates on people’s blogs caught my attention sometimes. Didn’t get them either. All those weird links with random letters. And the highlighted words with pound signs in front of them? Baffling.
A few weeks back I found myself at Maud Newton’s blog. Newton is a writer, editor and NPR contributor and her Twitter updates caught my eye. Her tweets were full of literary links. Juicy literary links. Hmm…
I clicked around among the folks that Newton follows on Twitter–sort of like being that fly on the wall at a cocktail party you wouldn’t be invited to. From there I flitted from one place to another. Other twitterers. Other followers. More hmm-ing…
I began to see that everyone on Twitter isn’t tweeting about trips to cosco. Many tweet with intriguing links. And if you’re an info-freak like I am, you’re bound to be mesmerized. So I signed on. I still can’t quite believe it, but I’m having a fine time in Twitterville.
I can keep up with progressive education tweets at Edutopia. With food news from Michael Pollan and Marion Nestle and Jamie Oliver. With all sorts of random fascinating cultural stuff at Brain Pickings, Tedtalks and Information Is Beautiful. And good reads at New York Times Books and my local indie bookstore. And then there’s Sam Anderson, a New York Times Magazine critic who tweets the best sentence he reads each day.
Not to mention Steve Martin’s tweets about trying to copyright the word the.
I’ve learned that those random pound signs are hashtags, and they serve as a sort of sorting mechanism, making it easy to find tweets on, say, homeschooling. And once you start going down those rabbit holes, there’s no end to the information you’ll find, or the people you can gab with.
(Hashtags have more nuanced uses as well. Susan Orlean explains.)
On days when I get no emails from friends, and the blog comments are slow, it’s fun to cruise over to Twitter to get the news. Sort of like a virtual and global small-town coffee shop. Just takes a minute to skim, and there’s almost always something good. Even if no coffee shop pie.
So yes, I’ve decided that Lori is right and Twitter is where it’s at. Or at least it’s where I’m at. Come visit me there. And if you’re a twitterer, tweet me a hello! I promise not to tweet about going to Costco. (Well, I might try that today. Just for funs.)
In the words of Bambi’s Friend Owl, I suppose I’m twitterpated. Because, you know, nearly everybody gets twitterpated in the springtime.