So Long, @Croisan: Five Twitter Lessons

23 Feb

I am putting my Twitter persona, @Croisan, out to pasture. After two years and 10,000 tweets, it’s time to quit and reflect on what I’ve learned along the way.

The first lesson I gleaned from Twitter was to tweet about “Five Amazing…” or “10 Great Ways to…” or any number combined with a superlative to entice someone to view a link or retweet the offering. Though I rarely applied the lesson to my own tweets, it’s ubiquitous on Twitter, so it probably works.

I lied about the other four lessons.

This is not to say I have nothing to impart to you. I do. But @Croisan (For the curious, it’s pronounced “kroy-zin” like poison.) can’t be summed up in a tidy curriculum that you follow to become a Twitter god or goddess.

Fact is, I’m not a Twitter deity of any kind. I’m a middlin’ tweep. I follow around 780 people and have about 1,275 followers. And now that @Croisan reached my goal of 10,000 tweets, as promised, I’m pulling its plug.

I do not plan to remove my account or delete tweets. They stand, for good or ill, as my testament to microblogging. If packaged between the covers of a book, my tweets and retweets would run more than 600 pages. (Estimating five characters per word and 100 characters per tweet equals approximately 20 words each post, totaling close to 200,000 words, easily filling a thick book.) Granted, it would be a strange, context-free, mostly unintelligible tome. Like Bob Dylan’s Tarantula. 😉

Better left unbound, free, lost in the inexhaustible timelines of Twitter, those tweets. That’s where all my or anyone’s postings belong. Book writing and tweeting are not the same thing, naturally, but both require a creative, consistent, and egocentric effort. And time.

Nothing wrong with that, kept in perspective. However, just knowing how much effort has gone into my Twitter persona got me thinking, frankly, that I might have different things to do with my time. Maybe read more books. Maybe write one.

Hey, that’s a second Twitter lesson: it’s a time sink.

Of course, no matter what I do, whether riding my bicycle, reading books, tapping on a keyboard, or having heart-to-hearts with Cathie, time, my limited time on this good earth, is draining fast. If Twitter is one way to watch it wash away, so be it. Yet, as much as I’ve enjoyed my beguiling Twitter experience, it’s too insubstantial to continue as @Croisan.

For example, I never physically met anyone via Twitter. Oh, sure, I made contacts through Twitter. But never have I actually met a new person face to face through the service, you know, like you would do with a real friend. Never shook a hand or studied a new face. Not once. Even pen-pals get to meet each other now and again. That’s not the case on Twitter, despite thousands of virtual encounters between me and others none of them evolved into an actual encounter.

So, while I have enjoyed interacting with people through the service and will miss their wit or wisdom, I can’t say I have added anyone as a dear friend. There’s no one I found through the service who I would loan money to or drive hundreds miles to visit or call and talk to all through the night. There’s no one I have encountered on Twitter whom I can say that I love.

Likewise, when @Croisan stops posting to the wonderful Twitter information firehouse no one will or should care. It’s merely the demise of an idea of a mere part of someone somewhere who has moved on.

Say, come to think of it, that’s another good lesson: virtual friendships are not true friendships.

Although lacking in love, Twitter is an exceptional place to gather information on a given topic, particularly if you want to keep up with breaking news. Whether democratic movements in the Middle East or those that happen in Wisconsin, Twitter delivers the most timely information available. Of course, some of it is just rumor, innuendo, or lies.

Let’s call this a lesson, too: Pick your tweeps carefully. Many are simply bullshit artists. Unfollow and block others regularly to keep your content Timeline free of plain ol’ crap.

Finally, Twitter can give you a false sense of “doing.” That is, my tweeting and retweeting everything and anything on an important issue, such as health care reform or the environment, can convince me that I am somehow doing good. When, in fact, I would do more viable good by calling my elected representatives, attending protest marches, campaigning for the best candidates, or whatever was a true, more meaningful action for the cause I supported. Instead, by racking up a few dozen tweets about one thing or another, I can believe that I have actually done something to further a cause. Tweeting about Tahrir Square or the Capitol in Madison is not the same as being there.

Maybe that’s the last lesson: the real world remains real and important and vital, while the online realm remains only a reflection. It’s wise, then, to allot your limited time accordingly.

So, I did not lie, after all. That’s five lessons. Just like the headline promised.

And they were all learned by me.

Class dismissed.

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9 Responses to “So Long, @Croisan: Five Twitter Lessons”

  1. Shefaly February 23, 2011 at 3:15 pm #

    Oh no! Come to think of it, without Twitter, we might have never “met”. 😦

    • Mark Everett Hall February 23, 2011 at 3:19 pm #

      So, true. But we still have FB, where, I hope, I’ll still get to enjoy your wit & wisdom.

  2. David February 23, 2011 at 6:43 pm #

    I have so many thoughts after reading this post, but I’ll keep it simple and offer this rather inelegant comment, as I have just woken up and my eyes are still blurry.

    I agree with everything you’ve said about Twitter, the great time-suck that it is, and how it takes a great amount of effort to Tweet something of quality. I used to wake up every day and put great thought into what I was going to post, quote, write, whatever. And the fact that it was being reciprocated was wonderful, but it seems the bubble has burst, the great experiment in microblogging is done. People are leaving in droves, because ultimately the experience leaves one empty.

    Why? We are, to wit, expendable. We find that when we miss a few days of “Tweeting” no one really misses US amongst the great white noise. It’s like missing a few outings with ‘friends’ and finding out they didn’t miss you at all. That is rather startling, but hardly surprising.

    This post touches a nerve because, sadly, I keep on, even when it’s no longer relevant, even though no one’s listening anymore; I’m a writer, and my community is drying up, and I’m so sad about it. The sad part, really, is that I should have a group of ‘writer’ friends in real life, not on a computer, but alas … this is where we’re at these days.

    In The last year or so I’ve thought about leaving it all too. Maybe someday I will, but I have to say, I do consider you a friend, one with integrity and honesty, and I’m sorry we never talked more, I really am. I’ll miss @Croisan, and I’ll miss you too, for what it’s worth.

    Good luck, my friend!

    Note: I’ll be on Facebook if you need me =)

    • Mark Everett Hall February 23, 2011 at 7:06 pm #

      I’m touched. Deeply. And, contrary to your caveat, it’s elegant as hell, amigo.

      What you say about the reciprocity of Twitter is something I missed entirely in my flawed essay. There are people like you who not only contribute to the spontaneity and intelligence of Twitter, but who also give back a part of their personality to the service. In reflection, that’s what makes it attractive and great. And it’s what @Croisan will miss most.

  3. Lucas Morton February 23, 2011 at 6:56 pm #

    Great Article. I didn’t even follow you I just clicked as you predicted I would.

  4. Mahendra Palsule March 15, 2011 at 7:14 am #

    Just dropping in to say that I miss you on Twitter.

    • Mark Everett Hall March 15, 2011 at 10:24 am #

      Thanks, Mahendra. I am considering adopting a new avatar/persona for Twitter to follow breaking news, such as the multiple catastrophes in Japan. But I’ll probably not contribute to the great Twitter conversation because that, I find, is what robs me of my time. Oh, and I’ll be sure to follow you, if I do this. But you just won’t know it’s me. 😉 And I’m on Facebook, though not often. The best thing, though, would be for me to make a journey to India and buy you a cup of tea some time.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Tweets that mention So Long, @Croisan: Five Twitter Lessons « Croisan Views -- Topsy.com - February 23, 2011

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by David Hunter , Mark Everett Hall, Mark Everett Hall, Donald G. Carder, Lucas Morton and others. Lucas Morton said: Great Read RT @Croisan: Five Twitter Lessons http://t.co/qYzw9YQ Calling it quits after 2 years of microblogging […]

  2. Is Twitter for Writers? | CyclistWriter - May 4, 2011

    […] I dumped my @Croisan persona on Twitter after reaching 10,000 tweets, I estimated all those little posts added up to one giant […]

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