Monday, January 5, 2009

Meet Me Where the Tweets are Plenty

Mr. Trizzle asked me the other day why I like Twitter so much.  "It seems," he said, "so voyeristic."  Too personal, too open.  After all, unlike Facebook's status message updates - which is sort of what Twitter is in a way - anybody can see it, not just people you actually know in real life.  It's also a bit like randomly im'ing strangers, a behavior that fell out of practice for non-weirdos almost a decade ago.  But here's why I like Twitter so much:
You get the whole person.

Since leaving the little 30 minute radius in which I was born, grew up and went to school all the way through college, my life has become compartmentalized.  It was very strange to me when I realized in the Peace Corps I had, for the first time in my life, friends who would probably never meet my parents.  It was a shocking and uncomfortable revelation.  (My mommy's so much fun, I want everyone to know her!)  Now that I'm in law school, still outside that radius, studying something most peolpe don't give a rat's vampire about, things are even more segregated.  I realized last week sometime that I have exactly one person in my life with whom I can talk about everything and anything I'm doing or find interesting.  One.  That's almost absurd.

This results in segregated interactions with the people in my life.  My blogs are a perfect example.  This is my personal blog.  It's for funny stories and random things I want to share.  I don't post about IP (intellectual property) stuff because most of my readers here won't care and won't have enough background knowledge to understand.  In the same respect, Ip's What's Up and the African IP blog to which I contribute only contain posts about their subject matter.  They're not the proper places for random musings.  Few people read all three blogs, or even this and Ip's.  I know my blog readers, my friends and to some extent even some of my family members only in the contexts in which we interact.  It becomes like when you were in grade school and ran into one of your teachers at the store or something and were shocked to discover they existed outside of school.

Twitter is different.  Not only can I leave one little window open on my screen, smaller than aim (I use twhirl), I can get information and updates on everything in one place, and have conversations about it: IP, sewing, shoes, you name it, whatever I choose, whomever I choose to follow.  But the best part is, I get more.  The guy in South Africa who discusses computer and business stuff also shares his pictures of the beautiful African landscape and rejoices over Pepsi.  The IP lawyer in Illinois tweets about new updates and adds links to very interesting articles, but he also tweets about the time he's spending with his son.  The writer in New York tweets about new projects and journals and social issues and the tea cakes his mom sends him.  Lawrence Lessig, renowned scholar/activist who founded Creative Commons (and is now leaving Stanford for Harvard) tweets about the same sort of issues he passionately discusses in his blog, but he also has conversations with his family members and says he's getting on an airplane.  Suddenly, this icon of our times is immensly human.  And Shaq, Shaq is just a regular ol' crazy guy.

Personal?  Yes.  Voyeristic?  Perhaps.  Open?  Very.  But any of it "too"?  No.  Twitter is each of these and none of these.  It's whatever you let it be.   There's one guy in LA that likes to constantly tweet the exact address of wherever he is.  That's more info than I care to know, and far more than I would ever dare give.  But it's what he wants to do with it.  (I may stop following him soon, haven't decided; or send Mary Ruth to sneak up on him, hee hee.)  There's a mom somewhere who likes to sew.  I enjoy reading about how she's trying to get some chore done so she can get in the sewing room.  Why?  Because I can relate.  Because of Twitters nature, it's almost never compartmentalized.  (Organizations' acconuts may be an exception.)

So why do I Twitter?  It brings my life together in one place, and it does it with whole people.


MaryRuth said...

I'm seeing this Twitter thing more and more. And I check them out once in a while and I think "my life is so incredibly boring, what would I write and who would even want to read it?" And then I see you wrote about re-arranging your lingerie drawer! Maybe I *should* Twitter! Do you do it on the computer or cell phone?
If that LA guy ever makes it to Torrance, I'll check him out for you. =)

goldenrail said...

I use my computer (my cell phone is pretty basic, and I love it that way), but I know that some people use their phones, ipod's, etc. I was hesitant about Twitter at first and didn't really know what do with it when I started, but once I found the right people to follow, I loved it.
The LA guy is usually in Redondo Beach.
(and it wasn't a drawer, it was a whole dresser!)

Jeannie said...

You must have really driven fast to get to college within 30 minutes - it takes me close to 45 and I'm no slow-poke!
Maybe I'll have to check out Twitter - just what I need another excuse to be on the computer. ;)

goldenrail said...

It took me 32 minutes on average to get from school to Greg's. I didn't say your house was the center of the radius - 30 minutes east of that would be the middle of the lake.