More fool me.
Last week, feeing increasingly disenchanted with the big T, I tweeted this...
…and I got no response from anyone. Zilch. Nada.
Not one of my 41 followers responded. (I hate telling you I only have 41 because it feels so pathetic, but you could find it out for yourself anyway, because Twitter insists on making everyone’s statistics public knowledge - I have complained to Isaac about this but to no avail.) I probably have only a handful of followers because I have no friends on Twitter, tweet on average once a day and not about TV and celebrities, nor do I join in on trending topics. But mostly I think it’s because the people who like my blog and like my books are not in the category of people who “get” Twitter.
Then on Tuesday, I posted Disappointed in Twitter, and Isaac, who has over 4000 followers, and who works at Twitter, tweeted this…
@isaach lessons for Twitter from my mom -> RT
and I got a response. A few people tweeted to me direct with suggestions and comments. And I had a huge swell of hits on my blog.
So this is the result…
@robinsloan, a colleague of Isaac’s, sent me two suggestions
and I like them both a lot. They have directed me to interesting articles and features on the net, and I think the ratio of “tweets of interest” to “tweets not of interest” is acceptable, so thank you, @robinsloan.
When I checked Twitter first thing this morning, though, the whole of my visible timeline was taken up with tweets from @brainpicker and I panicked - Omigod! Where are Isaac’s tweets? And it struck me then that one of the things that annoys me about Twitter is that you can’t delete or hide irrelevant tweets. You can’t clear the decks of detweetus and concentrate on the tweets that matter, like you can when you look at your email and delete the stuff you’re not going to bother with. This makes my brain feel cluttered, and it also induces a feeling of unease every time I log on to Twitter, because there is so much there that I have no time to follow up. This makes me feel inefficient and inadequate. Over time, I have been conditioned to associate Twitter with these negative feelings.
But back to the problem of finding interesting people to follow. Someone suggested via Isaac that I use a site called www.wefollow.com so I could find people to follow according to my interests. I began by looking at Writers, but they were either publicising their stuff (e.g. John Cleese) or having personal conversations (e.g. Susan Orlean.) In general, following individuals who tweet doesn’t work for me. I searched the Inspiration category and came up with @tinybuddha which I did like.
The categories of Tweeters on the wefollow.com site are ranked according to how many people follow them, but I don’t much care about this. The Sun has 3 million readers, but so what? I prefer the Guardian, with readership less than ten percent of that.
There are many and various categories of Twitter user, and I am the type who wants to follow:
1/ the three people in my family who tweet
2/ people who write amusing self-contained one-liners, e.g. @greenberg (and I’d welcome suggestions of other people who do this)
3/ one-offs, like @arjunbasu who writes 140 character short stories
4/ tweeters with links that interest me e.g. @brainpicker, @lettersofnote @tinybuddha
5/ organisations with whom I am in sympathy, or who have news about issues I care about e.g. @NatAutSoc (the National Autistic Society) and @MaanNewsAgency which has up to the minute news from the Gaza strip.
This exercise has clarified for me what Twitter can and cannot do, how I can use it and not be dismayed.
I may now have a happy-ish rapprochement with Twitter, but what of all those people like me who join Twitter, become disenchanted because they’re drowning in detweetus, and who have no insiders at Twitter to guide them through, publicise their distress, or field suggestions from colleagues. I was especially lucky in that @robinsloan cottoned on to the kind of tweets I’m looking for.
Isaac told me he sometimes asks job applicants to Twitter how they would explain Twitter to their parents. Perhaps he should be asking “How would you help your parents be happy using Twitter?”