In my last blog (which no longer exists), I posted my musings on what was a new fad at the time–Twitter. Those of you that read my blog back then know what I’m talking about–I hated any and all things Twitter. As someone who has deleted my Facebook wall and therefore no longer posts “status updates,” signing up for another social profile site that was basically composed of nothing but Facebook statuses made no sense to me. I wanted no part in it and refused to ever succumb to the ridiculousness that was called, “Twitter.”
Until one day I did. I made an account to follow the LA Times, some celebrities, and a few friends. And then, look what happened. I was regularly tweeting from my Blackberry. That “ubertwitter” application made it all too easy for me to tweet and read my followers’ tweets. I frequently retweeted about news exclusive to Los Angeles, which pertained to zero of my followers, but seemed important to me as I wish I was concerned about traffic on the 101 in the late afternoon hours. I responded to others’ tweets, asked questions, and sometimes had a whole conversation with others through Twitter.
Those that follow me on Twitter may have noticed that I have not been tweeting much as of lately. (If that is such a thing to notice, I don’t know) I’ve been thinking a lot about Twitter and my thoughts on it that I was once so passionate and headstrong. I met with a Dean at Columbia last week who teaches social media at the University. Before meeting with him, I was reading about his background and what he does in addition to his teaching. I came across an interview posted on mediabistro.com that asked his thoughts on Twitter, since it is such a huge social media device. He tweets a lot, but keeps the tweets 120 characters or less to give people the room to “retweet” (RT) and/or “quote” the tweet and respond. He also does not tweet things like, “At the Peabody in Orlando!” or “Sitting by the pool!” No one cares where he is or what he’s doing. The idea behind Twitter is also the idea behind journalism–what is interesting? What do people care about? What is something that someone else would want to “retweet” what you say?
Then I realized that most of my tweets were the ridiculous “at the Ritz Carlton!” or “going to the beach!” Which didn’t generate any retweets or responses in the slightest. Why? NO ONE CARES. I don’t know why I decided that it was okay to tweet things like that when I’ve thought for years now that it was never okay to state things like that on Facebook statuses. I had literally become a walking controversy.
My challenge now is to not stop using Twitter altogether, but to learn to tweet things that are interesting. Before I tweet something, I ask myself, “Who cares about this? What makes this tweet-worthy?” If the answer is “no one” and “it doesn’t,” then I really shouldn’t tweet it. Period. And the more I think this way, the more I start thinking like a journalist. The more I start thinking like a journalist, the more I realize that this is actually a way of training my brain to think completely differently. I have to think like a journalist. No longer as an imaginative, flowery vernacular-ed novelist or wanna-be Carrie Bradshaw.
Journalist. Journalism. All. The. Time.