Saturday, September 14, 2013

The wonderful world of #twitter



     Nothing makes my heart flutter more than a tweet. I’m serious.  
      A short 140-character message pumps a loud distinct beat. I hear ya loud and clear, oh Twitter pal of mine.
     You will have to forgive me. I am not a social media expert, nor do I have a total grasp on Twitter. I know. I know. I shouldn’t be writing a column on a subject that you no doubt have much more knowledge than me.  
     The fact of the matter is that I am excited that I am grasping more than the cursory drift of what’s changing in our 21st century world of communication. I am actually using Twitter, and I hope effectively.
    I refuse to be left behind with the rotary phone and a dial-up modem. I have a thirst for technology, and I try my best to figure new things out. I want to be onboard, and not left sifting in the dusty chalk and slate world.
     In all good conscience though, I recognize that the Twitter universe (“twitterverse” or “world of tweets”) is the fastest means of sharing news with the most people in the world at one time.  That fact is incredible in itself. I am still trying to absorb all its implications, and probably won’t in my lifetime.
     Liken Twittering to painting signs on billboards and barns to get the message out to as many passer-bys as possible in the olden days when Sunday drives kept most families together and contented with life’s simplicity.
     All our elected officials have Twitter accounts, and whether or not they actually tweet, or have a social media person do it, they are able to show “instant” compassion for a flood or forest fire victims while doing three other things— like more campaigning for their next election— simultaneously.
     I suppose they want to appear in “real time” with their constituents as backyard neighbors offering a hand during an emergency. (Best I stop here while the getting is good, and this no longer remains a social commentary column.)
     Every entertainment personality worth his salt lets Twitter in on the first trimester, his or her side of the marriage split or hypes his latest charitable donation to get maximum publicity for himself.
     I caught on to Twitter’s power when I wanted up-to-the second news about the Boston Marathon bombing. I felt like news was in the making right in front of me, and I virtually was walking the streets of Watertown in fast time. I got my news fix from the trusted people that I “follow” regularly in the media.
     When I took the plunge and opened my own Twitter account, I discovered it was quite simple. I invented a twitter “handle” that would best represent me, and wrote a short indentifying statement.
     People are really clever with their mini-bios, and I often latch on to a “bored housewife” or “expert reader” that has quite a lot to share. How about someone who claims to have an insatiable love for watches? (I’m serious.)
     Then I started to “follow” some folks and organizations. It turned into my way of quickly scanning the news and getting a better feel for world politics. A few broadcasters are very good with it, and the way that they use the headline to make their point tempts me to read on further.
     I started to post my own tweets from my column and blog          (www.overaroundhills.blogspot.com) and found a small increase in audience response when a tweet was marked,  “favorite” by a good soul (thank you very much.) A “retweet” of my original tweet put me in seventh heaven.
    Oozing with energy, I learned what a hash tag (#) is all about, and perhaps, in the initial run, I overdid it with ### every single word. I was connecting myself to subjects that were not of true interest to me—like diets for flattening my bulging abdomen.
     When I started getting my own “followers,” I thought that it meant that I was rising in importance on the journalistic food chain.  Upon examination though, some were cleverly using Twitter for advertising.
      What really put me over the Twitter edge I will admit is waiting for the Royal Birth—it had its official Twitter site, too. Day after day when the due date was announced, I checked any twittering about Kate going into labor. Gee, I virtually could be in on counting labor pains.
     The gossip was pretty cool, too, from J.K. Rowling being the birth mother of the royal baby, to Kate and Will not in Labor—the political party.
    And the fact that Twitter broke the news of the birth before the royal palace was amazing. Millions upon millions of retweeets showing the Royal Baby’s weight and height made us all proud grandparents, aunts, cousins what have you.
     My good friend from San Antonio was the first person to welcome me to “twitterland” and said that she would be my mission expert if I couldn’t launch. She explained that her main interest is connecting with like-minded people who are serious fans of “Lord of the Rings.” As much as I have read and reread those wonderful books, I will leave her to that and go after other interests.
     If you have read dutifully every word, or even have skipped to this paragraph scanning the highlights along the way, do me a favor.  Find me @kaywriter.
    #Tweet #tweet #until #next #time.