This is exactly what I was afraid would happen. Don’t get me wrong, I love the written word. I love to read novels and nonfiction—when I have the time. I am one of the few left who still subscribes to magazines and peruses them thoroughly.
Now Twitter. The difference between Twitter and reading a magazine or book, from cover to cover, is that the back cover is supposed to signal that you’ve reach the end. But in Twitter there is no back cover; the tweets just keep coming and coming. It’s like watching the daily stock market ticker tape with the tape unraveling at your feet. Pretty soon you’re all tangled in it and you’re having trouble breathing because of all the pressure to follow and follow fast. Tweets, tweets and more tweets.
I resisted Twitter for a long time. For starters, there was the character limit. I mean, how dare anyone tell me that I must limit myself to 140 characters? Me, who has so much to say? You might as well be asking me to only speak in haiku.
Signed on for Twitter,
Confronting its force head on,
Been hell ever since.
So I’m not sure whether this Twitter thing is going to work for me. I feel as if I’m trying to merge onto the highway—the information highway—with every car going 85. And I’m on foot. The pressure’s on because it seems the one with the most followers wins and I barely have 27. I must follow while being followed. To tweet or to re-tweet? That is the question.
Being a follower is relatively easy if you ask me. I’m already following over 100 organizations and some of my most favorite celebrities—Stephen Colbert, John Legend and Pink. Now I know what they’re up to and their innermost thoughts, though Pink hasn’t tweeted anything during the first week that I’ve been following her. But I’m aglow with anticipation. Gaining followers is a little more challenging. Beware of scam followers. They only want you for one thing: your money. Block them before they become evil doers and raid your followers.
Once you have followers you can start tweeting. And while you’re tweeting, be sure to re-tweet. This is what you do when someone you are following has sent a clever tweet and you want to share it with your followers. There’s a right way to re-tweet so be sure you know how. My friend, Trisha, who’s an expert at Twitter, tried teaching me how, but I’ve already forgotten.
In the week that I’ve been on Twitter, I’ve read at least 1,420 tweets. These tweets are confusing, making me feel like I’m listening in on others’ conversations. They’re speaking in a code I don’t get yet. Meanwhile, having only 27 followers means I’m really behind the eight ball. Borderline pathetic, if you ask me. Plus, eight are trying to sell me something, so I shouldn’t really count them since Trisha said I should be blocking them. But I won’t block any until I have more followers. For now, I consider them placeholders and I’m trying not to succumb to whatever’s up their sleeves. The little charmers.
Twitter has me sleep deprived. I’m pathologically compelled to keep reading tweets. I’m stressed too, with a constant feeling that I’m overlooking tweetable moments. When I do send a tweet, I worry that I’m not doing it right because I can’t recall Trisha’s instructions. I should’ve written them down. I will check on Amazon to see if there’s a Twitter how-to book for dummies. Until then, I’ll remember the words of Steven, an old high school chum who has clearly not bitten the Twitter bullet. He asked me,
Why not follow the Yellow Brick Road instead?
Steven, I would—if I could only figure out how to get off this information highway. Without getting run over!
In lieu of that, tweet this: As long as I’m on Twitter, I will learn and I will thrive. Even if it kills me. And that is something you can retweet!