No, I’m not going to bash Twitter. The application, like Facebook, is great in and of itself. But how these apps are used begs the question of mundanity. See Matt Bai’s essay in today’s New York Times: “The Chatty Classes.” Bai poses the irony of how, back in 2004, presidential hopeful Bob Graham’s meticulous (and mundane) daily diary was used to criticize him as “weird”; and yet only a few short years later, that same meticulousness and mundanity is embraced by both celebs and the hoi polli on apps like Twitter.
I’m a daily user of both Twitter and Facebook, and I love how these apps have expanded my world to include like-minded souls that I might otherwise never have “met.” I find both to be necessary to my growth and exposure as a writer; yet, I use them quite differently. With Facebook, I’m connected to family and friends, not just writing groups and colleagues, so my expectations of “status updates” are quite different than they are for Twitter. But I initially joined Facebook as an aunt wanting to be more connected with her nephews and nieces. I joined Twitter as a writer, with a very different set of expectations.
Bai likens Twittering to the “jabbering [of Tom Hanks on his island] to his battered volleyball so as not to lose touch with his own existence.” I am perpetually surprised by how many Twitterers feel compelled to note their every move and thought. I’ve considered “unfollowing” some Twitterers simply because the ratio of mundane vs profound tweets is much too great. How many tweets about “going out for coffee” or “just woke up” must I slog through before I can find that one good tweet that links me to a good blog or essay or article on writing? I can’t imagine anyone (not even my friends and family) caring a twit about whether and when I got out of bed; whether I liked my coffee or think it’s a lovely day; whether or not I’m going to shave my legs or try to wax them.
I realize that many if not most Twitterers are communicating with friends and family and so such comments might actually be encouraged and enjoyed. Then why not have separate Twitter accounts–one personal, one professional–and spare those follow you out of professional interest from having to scroll (seemingly endlessly) through tripe. It can be done. It wouldn’t be difficult, and it would be interesting to see how your camp of followers might divide up.