at first i thought it was just old people. “stupid silly old people” i thought to myself. “they’re just so far behind in technology”
but, alas, i’ve come to find that about 85 percent of my blog readers have no freaking clue what twitter is, and a good portion of them are umm, young.
so, let me explain.
we’ll start with the basics. yes, twitter allows you to post random crap to the interweb in 140 characters or less. Characters means “letters or punctuation.” Originally, people used these 140-character messages to say things like “im going to the store” or “i just worked out” and they were geared toward people who gave a frick about what you were doing every minute of everyday, like your mom and your best friend. in this way, it is like a facebook status.
and the people who read your posts are called followers, while the people who’s posts you read are referred to as “the people you are following.” all of the updates from the people you are following appear in a long list on your personal twitter website.
don’t worry, unlike love, the feeling doesn’t have to be mutual. it is perfectly socially acceptable behavior to follow people who don’t follow you and vice versa. and, if you’re really freaked about, you can block people from following you, or even make your twitter messages private so only those you approve can read them.
Eventually, people starting getting creative and clever, so the twitter messages were funny.
Personally, I joined back in June, and fully believe that i have always been creative and clever.
some of my recent twitter greatest hits have included: “i was going to do yoga, but then the dog fell asleep on my lap. darn.” and “asked a Scottish woman today what language they speak in Scotland. how dumb did i feel when she said “umm. English.” see how funny i am?
i was actually inspired to join the service by my friend erin. (her blog is here). she had joined so she could twitter while she gave birth. which she did. because she’s a crazy person.
as far as i can remember, this is also i found out about twittering from my cell phone. the way it worked was that she could send a twitter update via a regular ol’ text message and then hook everything up all cool-like so the updates would appear on her blog. yes, i said a REGULAR text message. no special phone required. you can indeed send twitter updates via text messages.
this was back in the day when i didn’t have my very own laptop or a crackberry, so i figured this magical twitter thing would be a good way to update my own blog through my cell phone when i couldn’t get to the library to write a post.
and that was dope and whatnot. but like all things interweb, more and more amazing uses popped up as i started to use twitter more regularly.
for one, i started to realize that when i posted a link to one of my recent blog posts on my twitter, i got more hits. and then i even added a little button to the bottom of all my blog posts so that readers could just click a few times and twitter my blog posts on THEIR twitters, which of course resulted in even more hits.
along those same lines, i also realized that it was a great way to follow some of my favorite blog authors, who posted links to their posts and/or just wrote clever things. like dooce, penelope trunk and James Poniewozik.
twitter also is cool because you can read it all over the place. so, aside from twitter.com, you also can read it via rss feeds on the sides of people’s web site’s (see right), or if you REALLY want to stalk someone, you can even have their twitter updates sent directly to your cell phone. there’s also a crap load of applications you can read twitter though, the most popular being tweetdeck, which seems to integrate the service into your computer.
you can even synch the updates to other social networking sites. for example, some of you may have noticed that my twitter updates also appear as my facebook status updates.
another cool thing about twitter is that it’s totally non-committal. when you have time, you check it. when you don’t, no biggie. it’s not like e-mail, which really needs to be read at least daily. and it’s not like facebook, which requires you to interact with others. no, it’s more like the radio. just tune in, and it’s there. but if you’d rather take a phone call, the dj isn’t going to be offended. for example, i follow more than 160 people, but i do not read ALL of their updates. i only read the ones that appear my personal twitter site when i log on.
this also means you can be linked to people on twitter that you might know know well enough to be facebook friends with, much less know in real life. for me, this means i can follow fellow vegans even though i don’t know their names. and a lot of times they post vegan trivia or helpful hints for vegans that i wouldn’t hear about otherwise.
which brings me to the next cool thing about twitter – it lets you share links with ease. for example, last week one of my vegan twitter friends posted a link to things you can eat at chain restaurants that are vegan. and i’ll often find vegan recipes through links people post on twitter.
following fellow vegans also helps me connect with other vegans, who i can find by browsing through their followers. and as twitter evolves, people are getting really good at searching the site for tweets they want to read, which you can do here. so, for example, i could search for Johnny depp, and then read every tweet about him.
there you have, all the reasons i love twitter. if i have successfully convinced you that it’s awesome, great! feel free to sign up at twitter.com. or, if you still feel like shouting from the rooftops that twitter is RUINING AMERICAN AND THE WORLD! then, well, just mozzy along to cnn.com or something, i guess.
oh. and duh. here’s MY twitter. feel free to follow me or not.