A world without Twitter? Sign me up
I can’t leave Twitter.
But I’m hoping it dies.
I have more than 1,400 followers, which is a disappointment if I’m telling the truth because, ever competitive, I have sportswriting friends who have tens of thousands more.
Maybe I never had the social media knack. Perhaps I put too much into the words to have any energy left to think hard about how to sell them.
In digital spaces, I’m still not sure how to bring the most eyeballs to my thoughts and the thought of hiring somebody to help me with it has eluded me, too.
As a newspaperman, I cared immensely about presentation. Enough to drive some of the people around me crazy. Stories had to fit on the page just so and headlines and graphics, too.
Three or four nights a week my first 13 years at The Norman Transcript, not only did I write a story or two appearing on the pages, but I designed those same pages, every night shooting for memorable. Perhaps something like this:
Now, it’s Twitter and Facebook, sometimes Instagram.
If you subscribe to Oklahoma Columnist, you receive these screeds in your e-mail inbox. Just maybe, you see them in your inbox, but preferring to read them at the OklahomaColumnist.com website, you head over there.
But where do new readers come from?
Typically, from Facebook and Twitter, where they’re wrangled via my posting of my work, or via other readers moved to share my work and for whom I’m eternally grateful.
Indeed, you could make a case that I need Twitter, count on Twitter, could not even do my work effectively without Twitter.
So I can’t leave it.
But I’m hoping it dies.
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Here are my interests:
Politics and policy.
Pro wrestling history.
Plain old history.
For the most part, there was a time I could follow all of these things via Twitter.
I could follow poker.
I could read my favorite sportswriters.
Cool people I enjoyed and respected would not only post things I might want to read or check out, but I could actually see their posts and choose to go down the paths they offered.
I would get my news on Twitter.
By following The Washington Post, New York Times, Vanity Fair or MSNBC, even if most content were trapped behind a paywall — as it should be — I’d see the headline and go digging more more.
I’d receive thoughts, commentary and ideas about my interests from people I’d decided were smart about them
It still happens sometimes.
My latest find is a guy named Christopher Bouzy — @cbouzy — who runs something called BotSentinel.com, which I don’t understand, but who also, as a hobby, uses his technological and data prowess to predict elections and did a better job doing it than, I’m guessing, 100 percent of the “experts” this last time around.
Only here’s the thing.
If I want to keep up with Bouzy, even though I follow him, I still have to seek him out or sign up to be alerted each time he tweets, which I don’t want to do because I don’t want my phone going off all the time.
Likewise, if I want to keep up with what’s going on in poker, I must seek that out, too, because I can’t remember the last time any of my poker follows showed up in my feed.
And so on and so on and so on.
When Twitter was new, or just before it became its own world of activists and trolls, people yelling at each other, people taking offense, faux and real, I told a good sportswriting friend that I didn’t get it, I didn’t understand.
He said, for him, Twitter was like a personal wire service. Follow the people you want to and need to and you won’t get left behind. You’ll be current, in the know, on top of things.
But that ship’s sailed.
Right now, atop my feed, is BaseballHistoryNut, asking me, “Without looking, take a guess how many movies Samuel L. Jackson [has] appeared in?”
I don’t know why, but BaseballHistoryNut is constantly in my feed, asking me for my favorite Pittsburgh Pirate (Al Oliver) or the first player I think of when I think of the Minnesota Twins (Rod Carew).
Except that I don’t follow BaseballHistoryNut and even though a couple of accounts I follow do, I’d rather those accounts show up in my feed than BaseballHistoryNut.
These issues, for the most part I think, existed prior to Elon Musk taking an interest in Twitter and certainly existed prior to his taking over Twitter.
But the guy’s a dick.
Though me must be terribly charismatic and, at some level, in the ways one attracts followers, investors, acolytes and idolators, absolutely freaking brilliant … and for creating an electric car company that’s landed in the mainstream and actually sells them, taking a bite out of carbon emissions while lessening road volume, I thank him without reservation. Should I someday be comfortably able to afford a Tesla, I may well buy one.
But he’s a bad guy.
Fantastically brilliant, sure, but with so many blind spots, from how to treat people to the limits of his own good judgment, he’s therefore dangerous and all things being equal, if all of us might get thrown from Twitter at the same precise time, with no hope of returning, well … hooray.
Those of us who still need it, like me, will have to become more resourceful, which is hardly a bad thing.
Or we won’t, because the next great thing, or three of them, will come along in Twitter’s wake — perhaps they already exist, we just don’t know about them yet — and we’ll jump on it, or them.
We’ll make it.
In the meantime, I can’t leave Twitter, but I’m hoping it dies.