Twitter confessions from a late early adopter
Yesterday, Twitter turned three. A week before was my two-year Twitterversary. So that pretty much made me a late early adopter. And while I'm really enjoying Twitter now, back then I didn't get it. Not yet. Pretty much not at all.
I admit, these past few years I've pretty much rushed to sign up for any and every new online social or productivity service that sounded interesting. They all had strangely spelled (or simply strange) names like Flickr and del.icio.us and furl and Vox and Joost and Plurk. And those are the ones I remember, maybe even still use.
But pretty much most of them never stuck. It was just too hard to work them into my life. Too weird. Too difficult to use. And many I never tried out at all. Too uninteresting or too ... creepy, some of them.
When I signed up for Twitter, it was already something of a buzz in tech circles. I had looked at it for many months but never got around to actually signing up. It never really clicked in my head that it would be interesting. And after I did finally sign up, I found it alternatingly boring, distracting and challenging to work into my life. While I searched for people tweeting interesting things and followed them, I avoided anybody too prolific. At that point, following only people who posted a tweet an hour was about the max I could handle. A tweet or two a day was more like it. Otherwise I couldn't keep up.
In trying to make Twitter work for me, I did not follow people tweeting boring things, like "Drinking coffee" or "Waiting in line at the grocery store." (I still don't find that banality interesting. Who cares?) I was interested in people tweeting about interesting things – news, blog posts, events, or even just how they felt about that morning coffee or waiting in line at that moment.
At some point, I crossed a threshold – a breakthrough point where I was no longer trying to track and read every single tweet of those I was following, and now getting a more impressionistic gestalt of the aggregate twittering. And I think that's the real trick about Twitter. You're a bird in a tree with thousands of birds around you, all tweeting. The tweets that interest you catch your attention. You may miss things, but the big stuff gets retweeted. And the more people you follow, the more sources that might toss out something interesting.
It's a liberating moment, when you reach this point in Twitter. You're freed from the need to track everything. What you catch you catch, and what you miss you miss (and likely would have missed anyway, if you weren't twittering at all).
It took a while, but Twitter eventually grew to take a place in my daily life that did not even exist before. There is no clear real-life (as in 3D, face-to-face) analogue. Twittering is communication in a way totally enabled by the technology, the applications. We simply could not be connecting transiently, ephemerally with so many people at the same time without being alone in a crowded room.
Now I'm using Twitter more and more, and while my Twittersphere has grown I've found Twitter to be ever more interesting and relevant to my life. But I was a late adopter, even after adopting, and stumbled quite a bit along the way. It can be a bit unnerving at times, especially on those occasions when someone unfollows me.
So if you're Twittering but not quite getting it, maybe you should try just diving in. Follow a lot of people. Browse. Engage.
And Tweet your passion.
And when you're too busy, don't worry about it. Twitter will be there when you're ready.
Here are some women you might want to follow:
Cross-posted from BlogHer.