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Surviving Twitter

January 23, 2009

I want to take a bit of a snapshot today and post something which I *may* possibly look back on as a pivotal moment. Today is the day I reckon I can confidently say that social networking micro-blogging wotnot Twitter has finally reached that much sought after but generally sneered upon status of “mainstream”.

I’ve absolutely no statistics to back up my assertion. The truth is that I’m not really interested in raw facts on this particular blog. Tapping into raw emotion is far easier.

This is a moment in time, you see. A moment when another internet tool has gone past the point of no-return, moving from a gentle unassuming simmer to a violent seemingly uncontrollable boil.

Maybe you’re reading this and, like old friend I went out for pizza with last night, you’re screwing your face up in confusion and venturing the question “What’s Twitter exactly?”

“It’s like Facebook but with the status updates only,” I replied to her last night as we splashed our way through the rain to the only quiet restaurant we could find off The Strand.

My friend sighed. “Another thing to sign up to then.”

I’ll admit that I was relieved to hear her say it. I’d had quite a day of hearing people talking about Twitter. It had been in the news, on the internet, on Twitter. Everyone was talking about it, it felt. At least nearly everyone I was coming into contact with.

I do really have myself to blame. I’ve been doing my bit over the past few days evangelising about the micro-blogging platform. It is genuinely a useful tool. Select your followers carefully and you can have an almost constant stream of reasonably witty updates on a variety of subjects ranging from the indescribably bland to the really quite useful.

Or if you prefer, you can get some interesting contributions from people with genuine breaking news. You can forge links with individuals, hook into their central nervous system almost so that when you finally meet in the flesh it feels as though you’ve known them for years. It’s a social lubricant .. sometimes.

For different groups of people who identify the same possibilities and share the same networking needs, it is very useful indeed. The only way for people to find out about it’s possibilities is to sign up and try it. That’s been my message. At least, that’s been the message of self-justification bouncing around in my head these past two weeks.

But yesterday something changed. I walk into work, hobbling past a number of monitors and observe a considerable number of colleagues with the Twitter homepage up in front of them, email addresses being tapped in and profile names carefully being decided upon.

When I’m sat down at my desk, I fire up my recently installed Twitter client software which does “helpfully” alert me every time one of the people I’m following posts their missive.

This combined with a growing number of useful and informative updates from a media convention in Oxford attended by a number of the people I follow and I’m beginning to tear my hair out.

Stephen Fry is providing me with a blow-by-blow account of his day, so too in recent weeks Jonathan Ross about his search for other celebrities on Twitter and his preparations for filming his triumphant return to TV after his suspension.

The software isn’t loud and there’s precious little conversation in the office and yet I feel as though I’ve been awake for the past 48 hours without food or water. This is torture.

I opt to take myself off to nearby Westfield shopping centre for a late lunch intent on turning my unexpected irascibility into something positive. My goal ? Get myself a Blackberry Storm from Vodafone for a knockdown rate.

On my way I pass the audience reception for Television Centre. There are TV camera crews, photographers with massive lenses and satellite trucks all around. They’re there to get audience reaction from the recently recorded Jonathan Ross show and, quite possibly, get a shot of the man himself.

I know he’s recording at Television Centre because he himself has been letting everyone know on Twitter, so too his guest Stephen Fry. The virtual world and the real world are colliding. What would normally be an intriguing sight is one which registers no surprise. I know too much. I don’t want to know all of this. It takes the joy out of discoveries.

Sadly, persuasiveness and tenacity fail to make the impression I had hoped for at Vodafone. At £350 I wasn’t about to reach for my already over-used debit card. I left Westfield Shopping Centre feeling even more wretched.

Like Facebook before it, Twitter has today (or yesterday, depending on how you look at it) gone from being the select gathering of a few friends drinking coffee and smoking the occasional jazz cigarette into a house party with too many attendees, a free bar and a catering team who’ve gone to Iceland. It’s all getting a bit too much for me at the present time.

There are two possible solutions. I’m putting both into practise today. The first is a spot of culling. I am following too many people. The resulting noise is intolerable. So I’m cutting back. I got the scythe out last night after a couple of glasses of wine and will continue cutting back later on today. I suspect Mr Fry might be the next to go although judging by his and Jonathan Ross’ growing list of followers, I seriously doubt he’ll notice I’m gone.

The second is perhaps the most obvious. I won’t be firing up my Twitter client. I might even not go via Twitter (other than to post a link to this blog) today. Maybe I’ll give myself the weekend off. Maybe I’ll avoid the house party and amuse myself in a quiet room somewhere until some of the louder guests have gone home or moved on to another party.

I’m just a normal human being me, you see. And sometimes things can get on top of me.

One Comment
  1. gmtminus5 permalink

    Yes, I decided not to bother following @wossy.

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