Thursday, October 14, 2010

Blogging About Twitter

Although I started my twitter account a mere four days ago, I’m already feeling like a convert.

To begin with, while I’ve been a long time fan of both blogging and facebook, I swore up and down that Twitter was: stupid, pointless, exactly like facebook, and something that I would NEVER use.

Two things made me change my mind:

  1. When my Uncle Ray joined Facebook, his daughter left a note on his page that read “dad, you’re so late in the game on facebook – everyone’s on twitter now. jeeze!”
  2. I’m currently listening to the audiobook version of Franzen’s Freedom. There is a scene in which a college-age daughter is arguing with her father’s assistant. The assistant insists that she’s a young person and understands young people just as well, she’s 27 (my age) for god’s sake! But the daughter insists that there is a whole world of difference in her understanding of technology and the assistant’s, that the assistant didn’t grow up with cell phones and doesn’t understand that young people barely even email anymore.
Now, neither of these things made me sit up and say, “oooh, I need to communicate with the young people, sign me up for Twitter!” What they did do was make me realize that I was being mule-headed. I was being a bit of an old fart. Why was I being all snooty about Twitter? I enjoy reading the daily compilation of twitter posts that Jezebel puts up every day, so why didn’t I have my own Twitter account.

So I got one.

And now, I’m a little bit obsessed with the posting format. Twitter famously only allows 140 characters in every post (which includes spaces). I knew this. What I didn’t know was that there is a countdown in the lower right-hand corner of the posting box. The numbers race down and often I’m at 60, and then 40, and then  -3 characters before I even get halfway out of the gate. So then I go back and try and find places where I can condense, lose the unnecessary words. I don’t like abbreviations or internet speak (WTF, TOFL, FTW), so instead I’m playing with punctuation and word choice.

Twitter provides the perfect format for editing a sentence down to the essentials. I’m tempted to type every sentence from my novel into the twitter post box just to watch the countdown and then remove the fat. It’s like a minimalist’s dream tool. The only problem, is that a novel needs sentences longer, sometimes much longer, than 140 characters.


  1. dude i wish i read this entry before putting up a forum on 20sb about this exact same dilemma. i think i'm just going to cave and make one, said it right: i have no idea why i'm being so mule-headed.

  2. I feel like it's always hard to man-up and move in to new technology. Took me forever to sign up for facebook, and then an iphone. I don't know why it took me so long to sign up for Twitter.

  3. I used to be twitter "hater" I'm tempted to write a story through tweets like @smallplaces

  4. Hi Erin
    Nice name - Swedish descent? Dig your blog with all the little flies. Its rather fun. Anyway, I'm too much of a fogey for twitter. Joined once. Nah.. Still, I can see the appeal in a way. Loved the post about the dead birdies in the freezer! A colleague told me about her dad putting all her dead aquarium fish in there and her finding them years later.

  5. Andrew - Me too! I've got other fish to fry at the moment, but I think it'll definitely be a future project.

    Maundering Mutterer - Thanks! Yes, Swedish and Irish. Not that I think everyone should do everything, but there are plenty of old fogeys already on twitter, so if you truely are one, you'll be in good company. I recently stumbled on your blog and am looking for to reading more!