Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’

The Tech Divide

Posted: June 10, 2010 in social media, tribes, Twitter
Tags: , ,

Translation: "I have interests?"

When I was in my early 20’s, I wrote a Sci Fi novel (never published, of course!) about a post-apocalyptic Earth where those who had sided blindly with what I thought of as the dark side. Technology (the “technocrats”) had parted ways with a more Earth-loving and spiritual “green” caste of society, led idealistically enough by native American tribes (who else?!) who teach moderns to live off the grid and store food, and who had presumably kept themselves “pure” from a world that only cares about convenience at any cost. The Nazis (you didn’t think they were far behind did you?) had secretly taken over the galaxy after losing interest in WWII, and now they were back in enormous black metal motherships with tilted swastikas and those stylish fascist brown and black uniforms, complete with those shiny snappy heel-clicking patent leather boots. As I write this today, I wonder how off I really was–about the technology divide, I mean. The Nazis in motherships? Okay that bit was probably a little¬†off for sure.

Today we can all see people in one form of media (TV, even radio) dissing another form (social media: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc.) without any insight whatever into the actual socially bonding uses of social media. These people actually think, because they only see the clips of the bizarre stuff making the rounds in viral videos and the like, that this is all we silly people are doing on the intertubes. People actually come on young shows like Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and tell him he shouldn’t waste time on Twitter. Poor Jimmy is always in the defensive position, when in reality he is probably more talented than most of his guests (the guy not only does amazing impressions and has a near genius comedic insight with some of the best written sketches in the 21st or the 20th century, but actually sings quite well, to boot).

While I don’t think it’s a necessity for everybody to be on Twitter (ranchers, hermits, fulltime moms, Presidents and surfboard sages, I¬†salute¬†you), and while many of us are constantly threatening to leave Facebook like it were a promiscuous spouse, we’re ultimately all here to connect with others. You know, other people like ourselves, people who care about whatever we care about.¬†Let’s face it, even if your thing is making money and dying young partying, you have others to talk to about it, and that gives your life a semblance of meaning, at least in terms of social relations. If you’re a decent comedian or musician, you have lots of research to do on YouTube. When the designated generational “fogey” like Lewis Black says “I don’t care if you bought a new pair of shoes” most Twitter-users immediately get what Lewis Black simply doesn’t: not everyone on Twitter is a 14-yr-old girl with a mouth full of bubblegum. Most of the users I personally see and talk to tend to be male (not crucially important, but telling in terms of male/female ratios), and networking for mostly business purposes. The majority of adults are, and I can state this with some boldness, in fact, either on Twitter for business or for causes that affect people on a massive scale. And in all cases, they’re here to find people who share the interests that their own families and high-school or college friends just simply don’t. It doesn’t mean we don’t love our spouses, our families, our long time friends, but our Twitter posse…the people who know what we’re talking about, they’re out there, ya know?

Truth is, there are lots of aging seniors with stories of fascinating lives to be found hanging out in the spare moments on Twitter. Tree-hugging green people (I’m kind of one of them to a limited extent), conservative Tea Party revolutionaries (okay, I’m definitely not one, at least not yet)–whatever you tweet about and network for, it’s meaningful to you or you wouldn’t be doing it. Studies (I’ll post what I find below) have begun to show that people stop if they find they’re not doing what they love, they just stop, eventually, and start over. So Lewis Black, not only have I never found you funny (sorry, but is caffeine and¬†nicotine¬†withdrawal¬†ever really funny?), but you and Adam Sandler (another pointlessly unfunny “comic”–see his cinematic “twatter” reference) both don’t get what about half of the world already does. Namely that:

A) there are lots of individual non-famous people funnier than the both of you put together–on YouTube…seriously, and

B) social media isn’t about fitting into a preconceived mold like you claim not to be doing, it’s about being ourselves, our full selves, the selves we don’t find opportunity to be with those that fate has thrown us together with in many, if not most cases (at least until we marry and create/train/assemble children into people we think we appreciate and “get” us).

Sure there are limits to the defining of your network, even online. If you want to show another, less mainstream side of yourself to your posse, you might even have to change to another profile. When you go to the bar or to church, how much of that self can you be then? There are more strict limits in geographically limited situtations. This is why meetups (SXSW, the Japanese language group, the myriad of multiplying cultural cons) have become a thing. People want to actually meet and hang out with these people they share so much interest with.¬†Nowadays, I think technology is about one of the few things that enables people who care about the arts, a decent intellectual discussion, socially engaged causes–or speed-crochet for that matter–to actually take action towards fulfilling our full potentials and create meaning in ways that our immediate social geography may just not provide on such a wide open scale.

So, please understand if we don’t listen to you too closely, oh purveyors of social media ridicule with mics and cameras on, but it’s just that we know that you don’t know quite yet what you’re even talking about. And besides, we’re often too busy concocting factually relevant critiques of social media, and not because it annoys us what other people do with their time, but a lot of us seem to care about whatever we’re into. Maybe we’re just funny like that?

This concludes my grumpy midlife crisis moment…for now. You know yours is coming soon, so please don’t front. I’d like my pillow and remote now. I’m old.

Not.

Call me shy I guess. Well, I’m not shy, but I am somewhat private. The day I went up to a room full of 70+ Chinese college students and began to give my first class on business English, it became harder and harder for me not to speak up whenever I have something to say. But in all honestly, I’m still a shy guy. Introverted as all heck! It’s a wonder I can muster the courage to blog. But when I take up something I believe in, that’s when it changes. I don’t call it passion, I call it doing what I believe in. To me, it’s quite an important difference.

Lots of people demonstrate their social behavior with FollowFriday (#FF) each Friday. I frequently am on the receiving end either for my personal or my business Twitter profile. Yet I never do #FF or even thank people as a rule for a simple RT. Was I raised in a barn? Does that rhetorical question even work here?….No seriously, am I just dense-headed? Maybe, but here’s how I do thank people for RTs:

1) Return the favor of being Retweeted by retweeting something important to that person, usually when it matters most to them

Whether it’s a promotion of a product or an event, or just supporting someone when they’re having a rough day or a sweet victory, I like to support people by retweeting them if they’ve done so for me. Sometimes I walk up to people and just start talking to them, or I retweet them without knowing anything else about them, because I think the tweet or the link speaks for itself, and I generally try to give credit where credit is due.

2) Talk up people I like and think are great in public tweets

Whether or not I even know you! Most shy¬†people don’t do that!

3) Follow almost anyone who follows me if they are not a spammy profile

Now, not only do I not hold it against anyone for doing the friendly #FF thing, and¬†I am enormously grateful that people are thinking of me, regardless of whether or not it actually helps anyone’s following. That’s not to say that I have noticed a discernible difference yet, personally, but maybe that’ll change. I do know that I never have followed anyone just because I see a #FF hash tag next to a list of names, even if the person is someone I like and even¬†somewhat respect. Are other people the same as me? Probably not. That’s just me.

That said, I DO think that it’s very important to be social back to people who are social and friendly to you, in whatever way you are most comfortable with. It may not come up today, or tomorrow, but sooner or later you run into everyone twice, even more, especially when you think “oh I’ll never see them again!”. That’s when you are applying for a job or some membership and that person is your pivotal contact. That’s just how life is. And though it’s kind of the wrong reason to be good to people, it’s at least a pragmatic reason for those who feel that being good is “Pollyanna” or whatever. And if it’s not how other people do it, don’t let that stop you rom expressing yourself. Just try not to embarrass anyone. At the end of the day, there is nothing less sociable than humiliating someone (or even just trying to). YOu may not think so, but people remember this behavior, and when it’s your time, they really remember it.

The most important thing on Twitter is just to be authentically you! So if you like #FF or some other trend, don’t do as I do, do as you like! The one thing I can’t stand is the Twitter Nazis who like to say that everyone’s style must be the same. It really shouldn’t be.¬†Just don’t (please) get mad at me if I don’t thank you for a RT or do the Follow Friday bit. It’s not my style, but I do remember a good turn, believe me. I’ve definitely got your number.

I normally will turn Twitter on after lunch. I’m busy during the morning with things that require my utmost attention: projects, clients, partners, lots of things poppin’. So after lunch, I like to feel like I’m riding the tail end of the day at that point. Doesn’t everyone? Unfortunately it’s not always the case, but that’s what I try for. It keeps me on track and sane. Along the way I add more followers (by hand, typically): potential prospects, potential partners, or just really cool companies and people that turn my gears.

Some typical things I would normally do on Twitter is check in with people I follow, post promotions for my business via casual interaction, blog post links, rally local followers in Houston area, or even by topic. When people tweet 500 times in a day, they often don’t get anything for it. Some days I don’t tweet at all. I tweet maybe, at most, 10 times per day, often less. Any more and I’d be rambling and wasting people’s time, or avoiding crucial work on my schedule. I know some people who post about 25, 50, even 100+ times a day on average. Some of us have reasons to tweet that often, most of us probably don’t. Everyone’s different.

Personally, I always wonder how anyone tweets 50 or more times a day if they are employed (even by self). That seems a lot of chitchat and time off the clock. Some people are mainly interested in using social media for socializing, for in-between moments, or to remark how they felt at key points in the lives, for posterity. That’s all perfectly valid. I mainly use it for business. I just happen to love running businesses, making them better, finding ways to do something better than before, usually pertaining to creating or promoting content on the web.

It has occurred to me that many start-up ventures are using Twitter either as “sleepers”, you know: tweeting nothing and racking up followers via follower software, others follow the grape-vine approach, using it to tweet up events and ping people for non-committal engagement. Many individuals use it for pure gossip, or to make “intimate” asides to a global audience about coworkers, some even going so far as to snap photos of total strangers that they just don’t like the look of, and tweeting something f’ed up about the person, posting it toot suite. I guess there is a Twitter use for every type of person out there. And there should be. It’s a tool that represents something different to everybody, for good or ill.

Okay, so now I’m curious. What do you use Twitter for? Go ahead and fill me in via the comments on this post.