Monday, July 11, 2011

A Few Words About Twitter, Which I Have Been On For Less Than a Month

I’m relatively new to Twitter. Still seems a little silly to me, but there is a definite charge from getting an immediate response to whatever random thought you felt like thumbing into your phone.

I do try not to overdo it. The reputation of Twitter users as social hermits who insist on broadcast the result of ever firing neuron is not one I want to embody. So I limit myself. I generally only tweet once a day. Maybe more, if I’m stuck on a bus and bored. I’ll jump in on the occasional hashtag joke, but I usually only contribute one punchline. I have a limited number of people I follow, and I think I’m going to cap that when I get to 50. There’s only so many people you can keep up with, you know. So if by chance you’re one of the people I’m currently following, consider yourself among a privileged few.

(Side note: it is impossible to use the word “tweet” without feeling like a complete idiot.)

Perhaps my most important rule is to not follow every single celebrity who interests me. It’s pretty widely accepted that celebrities have very little to say, and getting that nothing in two-sentence bursts every couple days does not improve the content. For example, I love Paul McCartney, and I’m glad that Paul McCartney (or his press agent) has decided to get with the times, but I’m not following @paulmccartney on Twitter. I’m just not.

(In the middle of typing that last paragraph, Paul singing “Junk” started playing over the loudspeakers in the Starbucks I’m sitting in. Well played, universe. Well played.)

There are exceptions, of course. Two of them are related to my love of baseball. They are sportswriter extraordinaire Joe Posnanski (@JPosnanski), who is probably one of the best working writers in the world today, and Michael Schur (@KenTremendous), who, before all his time was taken up producing Parks & Recreation, ran one of the funniest websites in the tubes, Fire Joe Morgan. Both Posnanski and Schur have interesting and well-parsed thoughts on baseball (and other lesser sports), so I enjoy their Twitter missives.

Happily, these two minds have found each other, and Schur makes a monthly appearance on Posnanski’s cheerfully lo-fi podcast. They enjoy talking to each other, they are enthusiastic fans without being stupid about it, and the fact that they assume no one is listening only makes the show more listenable.

Their commitment to ignoring the needs of the audience is best exemplified by their most recent podcast, which culminated in a draft to select the best all-time balls. No childish jokes please. Posnanski took the football, Schur chose baseball. Posnanski selected the 8 ball, Schur opted for kickball. That kind of ball, thank you.

Anyway, the discussion got so arcane that, at the end of the show, Posnanski was so convinced that any listeners had long since abandoned the show, he encouraged anyone who had persevered this far to send he and Schur a tweet with the hashtag #imadeittotheend.

Well, heck, I made it to the end. And I’m a 21st century kind of guy. So why not? I tweeted as requested. What’s more, I threw in a little note to express my disappointment that no one took racquetball in the draft. It’s got a great bounce, it fits perfectly in the hand, it has a wonderfully pretentious spelling... it felt like a missed opportunity. So that’s what I said. And that was that.

It will now seem like a massive non sequitur to tell you that, later in the day, I received a message telling me, “Dirk Newnam is now following you.”

Dirk Newnam? Who the hell is Dirk Newnam?

Well, actually, Twitter will tell me.

“Follower of Jesus. I write the Racquetball Strategy Blog and still love playing the game. Owned a health club, love baseball, music, and lots of other stuff.”

Shut the front door.

Dirk is following 1,823 other people. The vast majority of his posts seem to be about racquetball. So as best I can figure, Dirk saw my tweet about the racquetball, and immediately decided that anybody who would devote a portion of their precious 180 characters to that beloved rubberized orb is the kind of person who the writer of the Racquetball Strategy Blog needs to follow. To which I can only say... wow.

Really. I mean, wow. I just have a really hard time fathoming devoting what seems like a limited resource (time) to any random person who just happens to mention one of the things I like. I hope I don’t disappoint him. Because I don’t expect to bring up racquetball very often.

So yeah, I still don’t totally get Twitter.


Fanatics said...

You obviously still don't get Twitter.... it's 140 characters, not 180!

Sorry, had to.