Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 31 August 2014

Twitter

My Twitter strategy was simple.

When I first heard about the micro-blogging service, I thought I'd simply go down into my virtual cellar and let the tornado pass overhead.

It can't really last long, I thought, given the limitations of the form and the banality of most of the sample tweets I'd seen.

And then, when it's all gone quiet again, I'll re-emerge and try not to be too condescending.

The strategy worked perfectly for MySpace and it worked fine for Twitter too, for a while at least.

And then I began to realise that the tornado wasn't dying down as I'd expected.

I don't know what finally made me open an account - other than curiosity.

I also had real difficulties with the etiquette of this unfamiliar social space.

Was it the done thing to drum up followers? The very thought made my neck flush red.

Indeed the term 'followers' caused problems itself, with its unhelpful suggestion of disciples anxious for the next revelation.

I didn't much want to be a follower, but I even less wanted to have any.

The Life of Brian sprang to mind and the reluctant Messiah's agonies as his every remark was greeted with reverence.

Not a problem I'm likely to have, you might say. And you would be right.

But tweeting anxiety can't be unique to me, surely? To date, I've tweeted a grand total of 15 times.

Is it rude not to respond to a follower - and, if that's the case, is Stephen Fry doomed to be rude around a million times a day?

Conversely, isn't it impertinent to address someone you're following without some kind of introduction first?

And what's Twitter for, come to that?

I know that people think it's a useful news source, but whenever I've searched for a specific topic the resulting flow reminds me of a tsunami.

You know there must be important stuff in there somewhere, but how do you go about finding it?

Five years on from my first tweet, though, the joint is jumping and I'm beginning to think there's no point holding out.

I have tweeted more in the last two weeks than I did in the previous two years and I'm going to persist to see whether I can find a sense of rhythm.

Which is either a belated recognition that I was wrong in the first place - or a sign that it's downhill from here for Twitter.

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