Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The World's All A-Twitter

AH, the Twitterverse. That wonderful world of 140 character snippets of another human beings’ world. Oh, how I love thee Twitter. You keep me entertained, engaged, and enthralled. You keep me informed, involved and inspired. You keep me amazed, awed and appaled. Oh Twitter, what would I do without you in my life?

For those of you who don’t know what Twitter is, (gasp), let me fill you in. You know of myspace and facebook (please tell me you do, otherwise, I’ll have to write a whole other post for you), well, you know those little “status” updates on those websites? That’s pretty much Twitter, sort of. Well, not really...

A quick and easy way to update others on what you are doing at any given moment. But Twitter is so much more than that. It is not just about telling your friends what you are eating for lunch (though we all fall guilty of doing that from time to time), it is an instant way to share those random thoughts we all have and think “I wish I could tell someone this very thought right now”. With Twitter, you can.

When I joined Twitter, before it was the IN thing to do, it was a great way to stay in touch with my bloggy friends at my new job, since I was no longer able to spend HOURS hopping from blog to blog. This way, I could still keep in touch with them, and not jeopardize my new job. I followed a few folks, and had their Tweets sent to my cell phone as text messages.

And then, as will happen with any mode of social media, my circle of friends (followers and followees) began to grow. I made new Twitter friends, met new people, and realized that I obviously needed a new cell phone, because Twittering via text message was just not going to cut it for me anymore.

Enter the Crackberry, and AH…all is well with the world.

But I digress, Twitter, for me, was a way to keep in touch with like minded folks, inform one another, entertain one another, and share little trivial tidbits throughout our day. It was, simply put, like texting your friend when the guy in front of you in line is wearing purple short shorts, or the lady in the next car over just tweezed her eyebrows at a red light.

There are many other uses for Twitter, but that’s the gist of it.

And then, suddenly, seemingly overnight, it appears that the media, and in turn, Hollywood, discovered Twitter. Celebrities started creating their own Twitter accounts with a frenzy, and just in the last two months or so, the number of celebrity Twitterers has increased ten-fold.

Now, in all fairness, it must be said that there are a few celebs that have been Twittering pretty much since it’s inception, and have been using it in much the same way the rest of us “regular” folks do. They interact freely with other Twitter users, and follow the rules of RT, Reply, follow, etc. They “get it”.

But then there’s this new influx of celebs, who seem to mainly be using Twitter as yet another method of advertising. Pimping their newest album, their next television show, their clothing line. Fair enough, plenty of Twitter users use Twitter for the same exact thing, to advertise our newest blog post, our websites, etc.

But there seems to be a whole lot of controversy about celebrities on Twitter these days. Those of us who were "#herebeforeOprah", have a sense of proprietorship over Twitter. It was "our" social media venue before THEY invaded it.

There are those who believe celebrities will destroy the true spirit of Twitter with their “races” to accrue followers (just recently Ashton Kutcher and CNN were in a race to see who could reach a million followers first).

There are others yet who have an issue with celebrities achieving such high numbers of followers, when they, in turn, only follow a handful of folks.

Some believe we shouldn’t give them that attention, and stick to following folks we can actually have conversations with.

Some accuse those who follow celebs of having an unrealistic belief that they’ll somehow befriend that celeb in real life, simply by exchanging Tweets with them.

Yet others think Celebs had to take over Twitter, because they couldn’t stand that the “average” person had a voice somewhere.

There are many other theories, controversial ideas, and complaints floating around in the Twitterverse.

It’s become an interesting phenomenon, and as someone who has always been fascinated by the celeb culture, it’s been one I’ve become somewhat engrossed in. Because I? I am one of those who will follow a celebrity, if I’m interested in them. I have a different take on this whole Celebrity Twitter thing.

See, I think it’s great fun.

Let me explain.

To me, Twitter has become the epitome of the “celebs are just like us” thought process. I won’t lie to you and tell you I don’t get star struck. Of course I do. I love celebrities. I love celebrity gossip, I love finding out about their clothes, their cars, their lifestyles. I always have. When I was younger I too wanted to be a star, my name in lights, adoring fans, the riches, the power, the fame. As I grew up I realized it is not all that fabulous, and that perhaps, I much prefer my quiet existence. But that doesn’t make it any less fascinating to me.

That being said, because I’m fascinated by them does not mean I hold them in any higher regard than I would you were I to meet either of you. I’m fascinated by people in general. If you lead an interesting life, have something interesting to share with the world, then I want to know about it, about you. This is why I blog, and why I love the blogosphere. Through it, I’ve met fascinating folks I never would have met otherwise, and you know what? To me, in the blogosphere, we’re all a little bit celebrity like, aren’t we?

So, why do I follow celebrities who don’t know me from Adam? Why follow them when they don’t reciprocate my Tweets (which, to be honest, I very seldom try to communicate directly with them) or follow me in return? Why add to their “count” when they are not doing the same for me?

Well, very much for the same reason I still read blogs of folks who probably have never stepped over here to this blog. Why I comment on blogs of folks who never comment on mine. Why I people watch strangers on the street. Because people fascinate me, and the world is full of folks with interesting things to say, and I want to hear it. Soak it all in.

I follow celebrities on Twitter who interest me. Whether it is because I grew up loving them, and like to hear how their lives have turned out, or because they genuinely have positive words to share. Or because they are hilarious and make me laugh through the day. Or because I have a giddy 13 year old living inside me who squeals every time a new Tweet pops up from my teen idol. Or because I really enjoy seeing the interaction between some of these celebs with each other, obviously I’m a bit of a voyeur.

It is, in fact, the same reason why I follow anyone else on Twitter. I like what they have to say at least 80% of the time.

If you bore me, celebrity or not, I’ll unfollow you.

If you offend me, celebrity or not, I’ll unfollow you.

If you don’t ever update your tweets, celebrity or not, I’ll eventually unfollow you.

If you are ONLY using twitter to pimp yourself, your product, your movie, your website, your album, your blog…celebrity or not, I’ll unfollow you.

However, if you have something of value to add to my day, be it educational, silly, trivial or techy, I’ll continue to follow you.

If you and I know each other and carry Twitter conversations here and there, of course I’ll continue to follow you.

But if you and I are strangers, and never actually exchange “Tweets”, as long as I like what you have to say, I’ll still follow you.

In fact, if I send you a Tweet about something you said, and you never reply to me, EVEN if you’re not a celebrity, I won’t quit following you.

I’m not so insecure that I’ll take it personally and feel ignored. I will also continue to follow you if you don’t follow me back, celebrity or not. Because I’m not on Twitter, just like I don’t blog, for the stats. I don’t check my stats, EVER. I don’t care how many followers I have, what their rank is in Twitter, or where I stand in the rankings.

There’s nothing in those numbers for me. I’m about the people, not the numbers.

So, do I think celebrities will ruin Twitter? No, I don’t. I think they are just another aspect of this fabulous little invention, and like everything else, we have the power whether or not to click that little “Follow” button. Easy as pie.

Besides, I have a direct link to Donnie Wahlberg’s personal thoughts now…how could that ever be a bad thing?


Lisa said...

How did I know Donnie would factor in here somewhere?

I follow a few actual A-list celebrities (Ashton is actually interesting, as is Demi, but I wouldn't have followed them without a trusted friend's recommendation), as well as a lot of lesser-known mini-celebrities, like musicians that I've seen live, and Dell's chief blogger, who is a RL friend. Interesting people, as you say here.

I don't often manage to keep up with everyone I follow, and there are probably people that I should unfollow simply because I rarely manage to read their tweets. These are the random, how-did-we-find-each-other type folks that I never interact with. And yet we continue to follow each other. Odd.

I love twitter for all the same reasons you do... and shockingly, my hubby recently started to twitter. Pretty sure that's a sign of the apocalypse. But he was #herebeforeoprah too. Heehee.

jill said...

I never got on twitter because I didnt see the point, and when I got a CNN URGENT NEWS!!! message in my inbox from 1 something AM telling me that the dude had a million followers, I wanted to gouge his eyes out. THAT'S urgent news worthy of a 1 am email by CNN. Give me a break. It's just one more thing in a line of ridiculous things we do on this earth to entertain ourselves versus actually connecting with people. Sure lots of kids text and are on twitter, but I bet they haven't spoken to their parents except to ask for money or a ride somewhere in a week. All in all, it's fine for some, but I think it would be too easy to get sucked in, even if the updates are pretty stupid. I try and keep facebook to once a day and just seeing what people are up to and then shutting it down. I dont spend hours combing it for different things. There's real life screaming for food or a diaper change...

Nicole said...

Hmm I actually quite agree with you Jill. It seems that a lot of people are spending more time with machines and less time with people. Which is both good and bad. I say good because I, for one, would not know what I would do without my girls online. I tell them things I don't tell others and I need their advice and support. Plus, I've known them longer than I've known some folk locally. However, when too much time is spent with the screen, you miss the personal interaction. Like you said with the kids and FB scenario. Which is probably dead on.

Anyway, loved the post Sonia. Good job :)