I wasn’t an immediate fan of Twitter. As a matter of fact I refused to join in the mix because I could not see a legitimate reason to do so. I couldn’t get passed the tension it created. A tension between how I want to utilize Twitter and how social media experts think I should be utilizing it. A tension between enjoying my privacy and giving up too much information to the masses. A tension between being real and presenting myself only as I want others to see me. You get the idea.
Eventually I did sign up, but that didn’t eliminate the tension. I found myself tempted to fit in at times by sending irrelevant tweets, revealing too much info of my life, waxing pretentious to impress and falling into the false self. It was more irritating than enjoyable.
After a good period of time and adjustments I figured out what works for me and have found a framework in which to work from. A framework to be true to who I am and what I believe. Among them is to connect to genuine people, get timely information, share relevant content, discover music and art, follow favored business figures, to find humor in life, find inspiration from others, and inform “friends” with just slices of my life (and not the whole). On the other side of that to avoid mindless posts, the numbers game, blatantly sucking up to others, and creating a false sense of importance which permeates Twitter. I totally get how fans want a glimpse into the everyday lives of celebrities, but what works for the culturally famous does not necessarily bode well for everyone else.
I also had to ask the question, “What do I want to accomplish?”. Do I want a huge audience on a superficial level or a more smaller but focused group of people? Personally, engaging a community looks more like the latter option. It may look different for you and that’s perfectly fine. You make the rules and set the tone as to how to utilize Twitter. YOU are in control. Adjust and correct as you go when necessary.
As I look forward now in my relationship with Twitter I often wonder if it is all moot. Will it go the way of MySpace at some point? Will it lose its influence? Will Twitter end up being the biggest time suck in history? Will we move on to the next hot social media spot that we believe will change our life as we know it? I try to keep that in mind as well and that helps not take the whole thing too seriously.
On another related subject, do you think along the way that people will reach a saturation point and want to turn the GPS tracking off and let someone else become mayor of Starbucks? An awakening to unplug from the Matrix and travel the road back home? To the time where social engagement meant face to face community, taking the time to write meaningful letters (remember those?), placing (and returning) phone calls and focusing on a smaller circle of relationships that have more depth and meaning. A longing to have genuine personal relationship. Will it make a come back? Can that be done while simultaneously engaging in Twitter and Facebook? Absolutely.
We must never get lost in the noise and narcissism that our present culture continually tells us is completely normal. Again, those are choices we all can personally make in utilizing Twitter and all social media. Or the choice not to use them at all.