I finally caved in and have begun to Twitter, and I fear addiction may already be creeping in.
For those of you not yet familiar with this microbloging phenomenon, Twitter is basically a way of instant messaging in public, so that thousands of other people can read what’s being said. It’s also been compared to a big online cocktail party, in which everybody can listen in on most everyone else’s conversations — and, not coincidentally, everybody shows up to see and be seen.
I was sucked in by a former colleague who recommended using the site for professional networking, which would be a great idea if I had figured out how to use it for that yet. I’ve started instead with just the basics: Twitter constantly asks me to tell the world what I’m doing, in 140 characters or less; such bursts of self expression are known as “tweets.” Online friends (or strangers) can start reading my “tweets” by deciding to “follow” me on the site.
It didn’t take long for me to succumb. Soon, I was on a binge of finding others to “follow,” hoping — like the geek at the party — that some of them might take pity on me and agree to “follow” me, too. Every time I log onto the Internet, I can’t stop myself from scanning the site to see if I’ve won any new “followers” or if anyone has “re-tweeted” one of my oh-so-clever posts (to “re-tweet” is to repeat someone else’s post, with attribution; it’s both a shout-out and a public endorsement). And when I’m offline, I find myself trying to craft 140-character bursts that will win me greater Twitter cachet.
I desperately hope I can kick this new form of online narcissism. It’ll probably help when I graduate from using the plain old Twitter.com and start exploring the universe of Twitter-compatible add-ons that will help me do the networking I signed up for in the first place.
So, today, a baby step in that direction:
All articles on Crunchable now feature a link at the bottom that uses the site TwitThis to make it easy for all of my fellow Twitterers to post these stories. Let me know what you think of it — you can find me under the username @michaelduck.
Really, I’m there all the time.