Tuesday, March 10, 2009

To Tweet, or not to Tweet: The Twitter Dilemma.

Everybody’s doing it.

That used to be the peer pressure reasoning when someone was trying to talk you into doing something stupid; smoking, drinking, making crank phone calls, experimenting with drugs, performing acts of vandalism, voting republican - things that logic would normally dictate you avoid. These days, following the pack doesn’t involve breaking the law as much as it does utilizing the latest social networking fad.

If people ask what you are on, they aren’t talking about drugs. Are you on Facebook? What about MySpace? Are you now, or have you ever been, a Blogger? The latest and greatest of these is Twitter. Are you on Twitter? Do you Tweet? Are you Tweeting right now? Do you Twitter at work? Just what are you Twittering about? If you Twitter in a forest and nobody reads it, do you make a Tweet?

I will admit that I was reluctant to sign on to Twitter when I first heard about it, even though professionals were starting to utilize it for networking. It isn’t so much that I was afraid of new technology, or of appearing childish. I still play video games (on my Xbox 360 , no less), and am as capable as most when it comes to computers. My real fear was of being seen as the creepy old guy hanging out in the playground.

When I was a kid, there seemed to be a greater divide between kid tech and adult tech. When the Walkman came out, adults weren’t really seen wearing them in public unless they were commuters, and what few handheld games there were only seen in kid’s hands. But the lines have blurred now; kid gadgets are on par with the real tools. Cell phones the kids and adults alike are toting around have more technology in them than my first Desktop (a Commodore 64/128), you’re just as likely to see a middle-aged man with a PSP watching movies or playing games, and it seems like just about everybody has a damn iPod.

The same is true for social networking sites. When I first got online, chat rooms and news groups were almost entirely made up of sci-fi geeks, computer nerds, gossiping teens, sexual deviants, and any combination of the above. Now you’ve got politicians trolling for votes in the very same places.

I have numerous blogs now. I reluctantly joined MySpace a few years ago, after it was on the news about a dozen times, and quickly found it to be a great way to look up old friends as well as network and promote my writing. I joined Facebook for the same reason, and had to lock myself in a closet for three days after joining forty-seven apps.

Then the Twitter thing happened.

I’d heard about Twitter. I had even looked at the Twitter account of someone I knew, and here mind-numbingly boring descriptions of her daily thoughts and routines convinced me not to join it. But then it started getting mentioned in the news. All of a sudden, everybody and their mother were Tweeting their demented little hearts out. Newscasters were reading their Tweets on the air. Senators were Twittering during Obama’s State of the Nation address. John McCain, the man who bragged during the elections that his wife had to open his email for him, was suddenly Twittering like a madman.

Everybody’s doing it.

So now I Twitter. So now I Tweet. I try to keep my Tweets relevant, interesting, or at the very least, humorous. I don’t compose five separate Posts on how much I didn’t like the breakfast sandwich I got at Dunkin’ Donuts that morning. And I don’t follow anyone who does. Is it fun? Kinda. Has doing this improved my life? Not in the least. Will this eventually becoming more of a distraction than the helpful networking and communication tool that I’m hoping it will be? It’s still way too soon to tell.

But now, most importantly, when someone tries to convince someone else to Twitter by saying that “Everybody’s doing it,” I’m one of the ‘Everybody’s’. It may not be the equivalent of hanging out with the cool kids, but it’s probably the closest I’ll get.

I just Twittered that I was writing this blog entry. I’m not sure how I feel about that.

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