Tag Archives: facebook

Coming to terms with Twitter

I may have finally found a use for Twitter. It’s taken me a while. I started out in the same state of bewilderment with Facebook, but I’d managed to integrate it into my life fairly quickly. With Twitter, though, not only could I not figure out why I should bother with it, but most people I knew were equally puzzled. I’d read several articles about it, but they left me uninspired. Oh, the whole thing about it being an outlet for pro-democracy forces in Iran was great, but I couldn’t really see that as being part of my daily life.

It doesn’t help that there just isn’t much there to work with. Twitter’s defining feature is that 140 character limit, about a sentence or two, and everything else springs from that. Not surprisingly, I decided it was a variant of the Facebook status feed, only shorter, and as long as Twitter came across as being Facebook minus most of Facebook, why bother?

I’d been asked to join Twitter as part of the More 23 Things on a Stick program. It didn’t make a good first impression on me. I will spare you my grumblings about it here; the curious may visit my other blog 23 Distractions (naturally, all relevant entries are tagged “Twitter”). However, in the spirit of learning about Web 2.0, I promised I’d hang on until the end of the program and see what happened. It’s only now as I debate deleting my Twitter account altogether that I’m beginning to think of things to do with it besides copy my Facebook statuses.

Twitter is often categorized as microblogging. I’d heard that term from the beginning, but I hadn’t stopped to consider what that actually meant. I mentally labeled the site “Facebook Lite” and focused my energies elsewhere. I’m thinking, though, that microblogging isn’t just a fancy term for writing status updates. After all, my “macroblogging” isn’t a series of extended status updates. They’re journal entries made presentable and if I’d been willing to cut them down, I could’ve made tweets out of them. For example, Fine Print to date:

  • I’ve started a blog because I’m not satisfied with Facebook Notes
  • I hate my cursive
  • If I’m impressed by Samara O’Shea and she’s impressed by Anne Frank, what would I think of Anne Frank?
  • I’m addicted to knitting alpaca neckwarmers!
  • It was meant to be: I just found a copy of Anne Frank’s diary
  • What this name generator does to my real name and pseudonym is coincidentally significant
  • The female character was the star of Monsters vs. Aliens. Why is that sort of thing still unusual?

William Zinsser* would be so proud of me. Now with all of these, I had more I wanted to say or show. But even with Mercury in Sagittarius, I have observations for which 140 characters will be sufficient. So slowly, carefully–and while reserving the right to dump the whole matter at a moment’s notice–I’ve decided to retry Twitter as my third blog. I will reserve the status updates for Facebook and think of each tweet as the concentrated essence of a blog post. Perhaps I’ll even get confident enough to reveal my Twitter account to a general audience. (Okay, okay, baby steps here!)

  • Revisiting Twitter as a microblog and not just another status feed

*Author of On Writing Well and advocate of minimalist writing.

And you’re blogging, why?

Technically, this is my second blog. The first blog is alive and kicking, if somewhat neglected at the moment, but it’s work-related and limited in scope. But it taught me that I wanted to do a bit more with blogging; after that, the question was merely how to go about it. For a while, I figured the Facebook Notes app would suffice. I was already on Facebook, so I didn’t have to shop around for a different service. Plus, I didn’t have to worry about the world at large reading my posts, because I could set the privacy settings to keep out all but my friends. And what it lacked in aesthetics, it made up for in simplicity: type here, click there, and you’ve got a post.

But things have changed. I have a lot more friends on Facebook than when I started. Many of them aren’t close friends–some of them aren’t friends, period (acquaintances: yes, colleagues: yes, friends: no)–and I’m not comfortable sharing all my writing with them. I could change the privacy, but the more people I friend, the more complicated this gets. I also have friends who aren’t on Facebook. I can send them the Notes links, but that’s inconvenient as all get-out as well as pushy (“I insist you read my posts. Now. Here’s a link.”). Furthermore, everyone’s using the Notes app for memes nowadays–I don’t want my blog posts being mistaken for the latest meme!

There are other reasons I’m starting this blog. Recently, I was reminded of a book I’d read years ago called Wrestling with Your Angels: A Spiritual Journey to Great Writing by Janet O. Hagberg. Much of what Hagberg said wasn’t different from what you can read in any writing book, but she did have an interesting take on writing forms and genres. From that, I concluded I had a preference for “personal” writing, which included journaling and letter-writing. Wrestling with Your Angels was written long before blogging came around, but I bet blogging meets Hagberg’s definition of personal writing.

So why don’t I just journal? I am journaling, but I’ve found I like discussion too. I like how on Facebook, you can post something and slowly people you know will come together and talk about it, even if they don’t know each other. Blogging seems to be the best way at present to bring together journaling and social networking.

And so I blog. Welcome to my experiment.