One Hundred & Forty Characters

All about the One Forty and the big show in November

Character Of The Day: @danielmaier

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“Twitter, it’s my wife and it’s my life”, as Lou Reed once said. All right, he didn’t say ‘Twitter’. He said ‘heroin’. But Twitter is virtually identical to heroin, after all. It’s addictive and its heavier users end up dribbling and staring, blank and heavy-lidded. Except heroin addicts stare at damp walls in bleak furnitureless flats, or so I believe. Twitter addicts stare at screens. At feeds. At scrolling columns of Retweets, follow Fridays, hashtags, links, favourites. Red eyes barely registering the words flitting through their field of vision. Some they might understand, some more like some arcane code. #Xfactor, SCREAM!, #Ukuncut, KLAXON, Bieber, *face*, #whenyouknoyomommaaho and so on.

It sounds awful, doesn’t it? It is awful. But you could say the same about television. Television is awful, but also, of course, fabulous. The key with Twitter, as with TV, is selectivity. Click on a popular hashtag – as I write, #ThingsPeopleShouldNotDo is improbably trending – and it’s like gazing into The Matrix. A Tweetdeck-throttling, breathless, overwhelming flood of tweets from people who, in this case, all have an opinion about a thing people should not do, all sharing that opinion, virtually none of those opinions being registered by anyone else, so fast and impenetrable is their flow.

But be selective, and Twitter will be your pal. Be selective about who you follow -I try and keep the number down to 250 and would ideally follow fewer still. Be selective about what you tweet – many times I’ve written a tweet only to delete before sending. Asking yourself “yes, but who cares?” before clicking return sets up a useful filter. And here’s a tip – be selective about what you leave on the site once you’ve tweeted it. I regularly go back over my past few days’ tweets and delete those that are most ephemeral, maybe relating to something that happened in a passing moment but doesn’t make sense out of context. I also delete replies to people that I know have already been seen. I think of it as tidying the house – if a prospective new follower was to look at your feed, what would you want them to see? It also keeps my total number of tweets down, allowing me to think I’m not dedicating all that much of my time to Twitter, though in reality the painstaking act of deletion means I’m actually dedicating more time to it than I would be if I just left the tweets up.

Twitter, it’s my website and it’s my lebsite, as Lou Reed might have said, had the mid-60s New York avant garde had access to computer-based social networking. Had he said it, it wouldn’t have made any sense, but, you know, he was on heroin.”


Written by Chris Floyd

November 9, 2011 at 1:04 pm

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