Prompted in part by Louise Doughty’s recent post at the Telegraph SSC where she asked if any of us tweet, I’ve finally taken OneMonkey’s advice and joined Twitter (@JYSaville, since you ask). So far I’ve resisted the urge to tell the world what I had for breakfast, when I’ve poured myself another cup of tea (if I did that, I’d never have time to write anything else) or what colour I’m painting my nails. In fact, so far I haven’t said anything.
In the last few years while I’ve been aware of Twitter, I’ve dipped a toe in every so often without signing up. I’ve looked at Neil Gaiman’s page or friends who’ve already taken the plunge, and I could never get beyond the impression that this was a jumbled transcript of all the different one-sided phone conversations heard on a bus during a long journey. None of it made any sense, I found it hard to tell who was saying what to whom, and I couldn’t understand the appeal. Then I read something in an explanation of Twitter which suggested it was an information-gathering system in which you could immerse yourself and filter out the bits of interest. Suddenly it doesn’t matter who’s speaking, if I overhear that magazine X is now looking for stories on theme Y I can just go investigate. It’s a nudge in a particular direction. And if someone insists on talking about their preferred biscuits I can ignore them for now, until Twitter starts to make some sense.
I’m not what you’d call a social animal and I haven’t gone out of my way to build up networks while blogging; if people stumble across my blog and enjoy bits of it that’s fantastic, and if someone takes the time to comment I’ll respond, but that’s about as far as it goes. With Twitter it’s all about following – how can I gather snippets from those eavesdropped conversations if I’m not having them directed my way? It wouldn’t even let me finish signing up without following at least 8 people. However, I’m already reconsidering following Neil Gaiman because he seems to retweet hundreds of things (where does this man find the time to write?!) and it’s just confusing. I’m trying to follow people that either stay roughly on topic or just don’t say much at all, for now. Far from being a modern mobile user of social media, I’ll be checking Twitter maybe once a day at home, and probably not for long. If wading through all the accumulated tweets since the last time takes up my whole writing slot, that somehow misses the point.