When I see things that promise to make the future better, my attention perks up. When it comes to new web services though, I'm usually skeptical. My future is more hardware based I suppose. The future of prosthetic limbs, for instance, grabs me more than the future of Apple's operating system. I'm sort of in the business of designing both things with form and for the web, though so I'm always excited to hear about what's new and exciting in the web 2.0osphere. Strangely, when I heard some of my friends were using Twitter, what seems like eons ago now, I really wasn't interested. Now I have fallen head over heels in love with it.
What changed, you might ask? Twitter didn't, so was it some life change that suddenly made its network of short bursts published by people I didn't know more relevant to me? No, I don't think so. I think what really happened was a curious, yet refined blend of peer pressure from my friend and co-worker Andrew Haarsager (@ahaar), a genuine interest in at least trying all the major social networking sites out there, and a pinch of blind faith that the San Fransisco duo behind the scenes might just have struck gold by letting the world Tweet. I often wonder if the key to successful web 2.0 services is rooted in a clever name that gives its users the ability to do some new verb. Humans can now Tweet. So empowering.
Anyway, back to my story. So I joined Twitter, and started amateurishly posting messages that somehow didn't seem "cool" enough to deserve anyone's attention. However, lo and behold, as the weeks progressed, I accrued more and more followers, of closer and closer relations to me. I began to find people to follow who I actually cared about; people who posted things about what they were thinking, doing, or seeing that actually interested me or made me laugh. It was about this time that I learned of the intimidating rule that "thou shalt not follow more people than thou hath followers", and so of course I obeyed, and promptly stopped trying to find more people to follow. And thus began the almost daily pleasantness of an update telling me that a McDonalds' chicken nugget eater is following my tweets. Or the marketing people behind the Dyson Airblade hand dryer. Or Steven L. Snyder (no relation). Thus enabling me to find one new person to begin following, to spice up my feed of updates. As time has gone by, I can fairly say, I've become gradually more obsessed. After installing the Twitter app in Facebook, I became a full on pro-tweeter, pressured to keep my devoted followers and FB profile stalkers perpetually entertained or inspired. But this pressure felt good. The urge to create, albeit tiny 140 character snipets, was a good thing in my life.
My relationship with Twitter hasn't always been such a smooth road, however. Often, while trying to convince some of my friends to join (much like Andrew did for me in the beginning), I lose the argument no matter how persuasive I get. Occasionally my devotion falters when I start to think how silly it all is, really. Why do people care if I've been on the phone with delta for half an hour? But then I realize yet again, that it doesn't matter if they care about my Delta problem or not; simply knowing something about what happened during my day gives them an insight into me, and sharing it gives me a feeling of purpose, a responsibility to my fans. I do wish more of my close friends used the service instead of updating their facebook status, or not doing anything at all. But until then, the 29 people I follow will do just fine. And in the mean time, I've got plenty to tweet about.
Thanks Twitter for all the ways you've made my life better.