Sunday, 29 January 2012

Challenge, Curse or Comfort?

This past few days (weeks!), I have mostly been distracted from writing ... thinking about Twitter. Ironic really, given that my reason for joining Twitter in the first place was to boost my writing!

My relationship with Twitter is fraught with ambivalence so I've decided to spend this blog post exploring it and asking you to consider (and tell me) about your own relationship with the big T.

I find Twitter a challenge because it is full of rules I still don't completely understand or more accurately, I think, the rules are still being worked out. The word limit rule gives a false sense of it being a restricted form but human imagination, creativity and the sheer urge to communicate finds new and inventive ways around this. And therein lies the challenge. The uninitiated amongst us (or is it JUST me?) are still trying to work it out. I just about get the whole #hashtag, and incredibly useful it is too. There's the *written between the stars* that I remain unsure of though? Then there's links, genuine brilliant links linking to genuinely brilliant 'stuff' - newspaper articles, blogs (SO many brilliant blogs), websites, information, poems - all life is there. I LOVE IT! And pictures and video, music, books ... The key thing achieved, I think, by the restricted word count is extended engagement. 'I'll just have a quick look on Twitter' ... An hour or two later and there I am, STILL looking - sound familiar?

“The qualities that make Twitter seem inane and half-baked are what makes it so powerful” – Jonathan Zittrain, Harvard law professor and Internet expert

And here lies the the 'curse' of Twitter .... there's just TOO MUCH! I know there's rubbish but I'm very careful who I follow and I'm quite careful about who I allow to follow me too - I tend to block marketing unless it's businesses in my area or things I think I have some vague connection with (I have no need to be in-Twitter-touch with the marketers of sexy underwear, I live in the North, warm pants are essential here) but the bad stuff is far far outweighed by the good, the interesting, the surprising (in a good way - poetry not porn), the inspirational, the informative, the encouraging.

And here lies the 'comfort' of Twitter. I joined up to give myself the opportunity to keep up with what's going on in the world and to engage with the world as a writer. It allows me to engage with other writers and other people interested in writing and they are, on the whole, a lovely, kind and generous bunch. Although I worry (often about the possibility of the teenager burning the house down) I don't always get it right - a witty response in my head could be interpreted quite differently by somebody picking it up on the other side of the web-a-sphere and this does make me a little shy (relatively speaking anyway), I thoroughly enjoy the opportunities for engagement Twitter does permit me and (mostly) when I do opt to tweet or respond to someone's it's fun!

So how about you then? Is Twitter a challenge, a curse or a comfort for you? 

1 comment:

  1. I get how you feel! I've been tweeting for about six months now...just about 'getting it'. I'm reading Nicola Morgan's 'Tweet Right' at the mo, very informative!
    I'm still quite shy about engaging in conversations, so many 'seem' to know each other and I still feel awkward about butting in their conversations, but everyone is so friendly and when I do join in, the welcome is lovely!
    However...the "I'm just checking Twitter..." is never a five minute affair!