A lot of people don’t get Twitter. Actually, that’s okay; you don’t have to get Twitter. But in these turbulent times of rampant social networking and changing media environment, not getting Twitter can feel awkward and uncomfortable. Since nearly a third of their demographic is 35-49, it might help to think of it this way: Twitter is the latest iteration of the CB radio, albeit with a far greater reach and diversity of messages.
Remember the mid to late ’70’s? Remember those big-collared days of polyester, pornstar mustaches and a nascent musical style called disco? Back then, a great portion of America suddenly got all caught up in CB radio. The Citizen’s Band, made famous by Smokey and the Bandit and a string of other mid-to-low budget movies, basically amounted to a big regional multiparty telephone line. To join the conversation, people had to learn some words of a new language, christen themselves with a short and preferably memorable name or handle, and learn some basic rules of participation etiquette. Sound familiar? A related offshoot of this phenomenon was listening to scanners, most of them tuned to police and fire dispatch. People who geeked on monitoring scanners learned about local emergencies first, long before it became general knowledge.
CB radio represented real time media long before marketing eggheads coined the phrase ‘real time media.’ Twitter too, works in real time. It is the platform of now; what people are thinking and doing and concerned about right now, this moment. People on Twitter participate in a huge, ongoing conversation that’s searchable and easily customizable. You can jump in and talk or hang back and use it like a scanner, monitoring individual reactions and responses to the issues of the day.
Should you be on Twitter? That’s a personal decision based on what you might want to accomplish with it. Twitter may be a ‘real time micro blogging media platform that aggregates the collective zeitgeist 140 characters at a time’ but it is also merely a tool. You can use this tool in many different ways but you don’t have to use it at all. Personally, I’ve long been fascinated by those little Dremel rotary tools: they seem so precise, so flexible, so perfect for any number of fine sculptural and woodworking projects. But as cool as they are, I don’t need one so I never bought one.
Twitter is a tool anyone can pick up and use but before you make any serious investment in it, ask yourself: ‘what do I want to do with it?’
10-4, Good Buddy.