Saturday, January 12, 2013

Twitter is the Work of the Devil

Little Red Devil Head Cartoon by palomaironique - Little Red Devil Head Cartoon - Petit visage de diablotin rouge - Teufelchen Gesicht rot - Faccina di diavoletto rosso (partially remixed from All right, my title is a bit harsh.  It's a reaction to my first real attempts to get my head around twitter, and it seems to me that twitter is the Tower of Babel reborn.  It is the definition of narcissism.  It has created a nonexistent need.  Let's all blab into cyberspace and see who's paying attention.  If I blab more often than you, I get more attention.  My blabs don't have to have meaning.  They just have to trend.  Here.  Check to see how many people are blabbing about you.  Participate by disconnecting yourself from real life and entering a world of 150 characters or less, summarized in short taglines, where you amass followers and you choose who to follow, where we endlessly search for the pigeonhole that is us, the quilted blankets of labels that will define us and, in some magic world, make us stand out and exist.

With cyberspace, we have created alternate realities.  Worlds outside the physical realm, worlds where we build relationships and destroy relationships, where we hold converse, attend events, make declarations, go shopping, and play games, interacting with other cyber entities and creating other versions of ourselves.  My brain actually feels different after spending time online.

The thing is, it now appears that, to be taken seriously as a writer, you need a digital platform, a digital presence, that includes, among other things, twitter.  So, I signed up.  I followed people.  I tweeted a few things.  I'm drawing the line at setting it up so the tweets pop up on my phone.  I just don't want to sacrifice too many more moments of precious real-world time to this time-hungry digital world that demands I stand on the hilltop making announcements and waving my flag and gathering minions.  It feels like a manufactured necessity.  I don't want to join this transition from the physical realm to the digital world, but I often feel I have no choice.

Even writing this blog seems to me to be a concession.  I started it as a means to include out-of-town participants in the Writers On-the-air Workshop many years ago.  But I continued it because it was one way to build my required digital platform.  A blog and a website.  Small concessions to this new, demanding digital reality.

Then I learned that, for my blog to gather followers, I should be posting on a regular schedule.  So, I made myself a goal of posting once a week.  Even that, I was told, wasn't frequent enough.  I learned about metatags and labels and other ways to make the search engine gods  of the digital world pay more attention to me.  I started checking my stats more often, the way you check your hair in the mirror too often in the physical realm.  I learned I should be reading other people's blogs.  Lots of other people's blogs.  Reading them and commenting on them.  So I did.  Soon, I discovered blog contests, blog hopsblog giveaways and other strategies for driving traffic to my blog.  And I participated in a couple of those.  I joined twitter, and, hoping to save myself some time, I set it up to tweet onto my facebook.  Then I read that twitter etiquette frowned upon that, that I should, instead, post separately on these two digital realms.

Then I came up for air.  I didn't like the way this digital world was feeding my innate human narcissism.  How many people like me?  How many people follow me?  How often does my name come up when I Google myself?  I'm finding it's much harder to cure myself of that narcissism than it was to get involved.  It is truly a slippery slope.  My entry into twitter just seems to be the final step on my descent into a narcissistic hell of my own making, with the help of the human community, the marketing realm and the commercial world in general.

Thus endeth what may well qualify as my most hypocritical post yet.  I wonder how many hits I'll get?


  1. Twitter never really did it for me. I think you have to promote more than you need to promote. It's more for those people who need to be followed to prove to the public they should tune in. I think for writers, it's not the best platform for marketing. Writers should want readers who reflect, not follow, eagerly awaiting the next 2 second tweet. :)

  2. Cynthia, I'm so late in writing this that you may never see it, but I've been thinking about this entry for almost literally a month now.

    My first reaction was "aMEN!!!! Hang it up!!!!"

    My second thought was "But we really do like talking to people out in carbon-world - why is it so hard to do in FaceSpace and the TweetZone?"

    Right now I'm thinking that it's for the exact same reason that so many of my students hate whatever book they're reading for English class. (No lie: among my adult friends, this is the best possible predictor of who loved Catcher in the Rye or The Great Gatsby and who found them unbearable. If you read it cuz you were told to, and had to spend six weeks thereafter dissecting all the themes in class, chances are you will not be a lifetime fan.)

    I have plenty of pals (some even writer pals!) who find Twitter fun and addictive. I think they're Doing It Right, because they are using it to have real-actual conversations with people, and who doesn't love a good conversation? Conversely, those of us who are shouting into the void in a Machiavellian effort to make our numbers move seem to vacillate between bitterness and despair. I am not entirely sure how to fix that, but I sure would like to.

    Also: do you think that maybe there's some Cosmo cover issues going on as well? It seems like my Twitter feed is always full of people gushing about their awesome new book deal / cover reveal / hojillion words written today. None of us are ever that perkily successful all the time, but the cumulative effect sometimes makes me feel like a frumpy lump by comparison.

    1. I think it's definitely about "Doing it right," as you put it. Since I wrote this entry, I've done a little more experimenting, and I may have to retract some of what I said. I've actually encountered more thought-provoking articles of interest via Twitter than I ever have or will via facebook or simply google searching. There's a way in which you have a lot more control over your experience through Twitter, and can use it more as a personal search engine to track the ideas and conversations that matter to you. I've chosen to track publishers, agents, and specific thoughtful sources for the most part, and this seems to lead me to actual in-depth journalism and essays. Who knew?


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