March 27, 2009

The Online Evolution to Twitter

The Internet has a strange power over me. Without even realizing it, I've been swept along by the Internet and have engaged in all sorts of online fads; I've been an active witness to online history, but I've had no idea anything remarkable was even happening.

For example, back in 2002, a co-worker suggested I take up something called "blogging." I had never heard of such a thing, but it sounded interesting, and she set up my blog and everything, so I didn't really have an excuse not to blog. Over seven years later, I still blog.

But the Internet has moved beyond blogging, which is to say the Internet has gotten simpler. Whereas blogging in the early years required at least a passing understanding of Internet coding languages such as HTML and XML, establishing a presence on the Internet today is as easy as using a word processor.

So it's come to pass that I also have a FaceBook presence in addition to my blog. However, since my blog is somewhat anonymous, my blogging personality tends to be crude, while my FaceBook personality is a bit more refined (just barely) because my FaceBook audience consists of friends and family. So, I basically have a split personality. So long as the split personality doesn't intrude into the real world, I should be able to avoid the lads in the white coats.

But then the Internet went and introduced Twitter. If you're not familiar with Twitter, it's kind of hard to explain unless you've experienced it. Basically, Twitter is like shorthand blogging; you post your random thoughts throughout the day, but you're limited to 140 characters or less per "tweet." The goal of Twittering, inasmuch as there is one, is to make your tweets interesting/insightful/humorous enough so that other Twitterers will start "following" you. If all this strikes you as the groundwork for a serious psychological disorder, you're probably not far off the mark.

Regardless, Twitter is fantastically addicting. Maybe it's the challenge of crafting an interesting thought in 140 characters or less, or it's the narcissistic demon that's always dwelled within me, or it's a twisted combination of the two. Whatever the case, Twitter is the literary equivalent of digital crack.

Thankfully, I'm not alone in my love for Twitter. There are literally millions and millions of people on Twitter posting their most mundane thoughts daily. After several months of dutiful twittering, I now have 77 followers, which sounds like a lot, until you realize Christopher Walken has over 90,000 followers. Apparently, there are a lot of people who want more cowbell.

You're no doubt wondering what it's like to have 77 Twitter followers and to follow 41 myself. Well, it's kind of like being in a zombie movie, except instead of zombies chanting "Braaaaiiiinnnss," you have a bunch of otherwise normal people providing updates on their day and posting sometimes whimsical thoughts.

Where will all this Twitter madness lead? I'm not sure, but if I can just get Christopher Walken to start following me, fame and fortune can only follow.

Posted by Ryan at March 27, 2009 12:57 PM | TrackBack

i've followed much the same path as you - someone else suggested i blog and set it up for me - but the thing that makes twitter seem the most different to me is not so much the 140 characters, but that i have an idea of who it is that's reading. i've always blogged my real name so i've never tried to be anonymous, but my readers almost always have been. i have no idea who most of the people are who read my blog. but when someone follows you on twitter, it's less anonymous, and can be a two-way communication. i have 105 followers and i only know who about 40% of them are, but i can see their profiles tweets and so it's less anonymous. and i assume many of them are the people who read my blog. so in a way, twitter has been the key to discovering who my readers are, which is sort of nice.

Posted by: amy.leblanc at April 9, 2009 02:33 PM
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