I always told myself I would write a blog in honor of my 1,000th Twitter follower, which will be this month or tomorrow. It could be today, because almost anyone can create followers by being a follower, but I have let it happen naturally by interacting, trying to add to the conversation, or being funny or prickly enough, I guess, to get retweeted.
In many ways Facebook is more personal – a fraternity/sorority of sorts with Twitter being a 20 story dormitory next to the football stadium parking lot. There are personal things I appreciate about Facebook, but I am more a newcomer there, although I really appreciate my friends. And with both platforms my philosophy is to collect and provide thoughts, grins, support, and opposition, but never to collect people as measured by a number.
So, while one could easily create (even buy for God’s sake) 1,000 followers, my Twitter list grew during a year with a little care and watering. I was hacked once and yes there were a few indecent proposals and I could probably cull a bit more. But, with a short prod, I remember most of my followers, some readily and most with an “oh yea.”
So, I dedicate this blog to this brave, cautious, intelligent, polymath, common, uncommon, international dormitory and the gifts they have given me.
Published in 2000, Bowling Alone: America’s Declining Social Capital by John Putnam made a splash, turning on the wags and talking heads. A main premise was that we were technologically individualizing people through television, the internet and (sic) virtual reality helmets. The book was criticized, and some conjectured the research was old enough to be moldy, but it struck a nerve, and did so at a time when social media was on your fingers if not our horizon. Symbolic of the book’s content was the factoid what while the numbers of bowlers had increased 20 percent, the number of league teams had decreased. The author documented the aggregate membership loss in various civic organizations and overall decreased community participation.
Interestingly enough, we still hear the downsides of our new social media world. Several of my favorite journalists and writers have written, and I paraphrase, “lonely virtual worlds”, “the internet cutting us off from others”, “the illusion of community”, etc.
And, there is no doubt that somewhere for someone any change in the way we communicate can have a bright and a dark side, but I suspect that our new communities are more akin to the benefits of printing than the downsides. I’m sure during the 15th Century Reformation, Martin Luther and the Catholic Church had two opinions about the printing press.
But enough, this blog was the celebration of my Twitter community, so with ghostwriter names applied (I did not ask for permission), I raise a toast to my Twitter friend in Birmingham who discussed the realities of Friday binge drinking in England. Yes what you see on TV happens and is still a problem. I get a blow by blow sometimes.
To my Australian follower, I know more about a walkabout than what she said was the “hippie” version.
To occupy movements from New York to Athens, thanks for the on-ground reporting.
And, thanks to, I’ll call him Grandad, who is always helping me and others when I or someone makes an abstruse reference to something. I once referenced a civil war battle to make a point, and a follower did not quite get it in 144 characters. Grandad sent us both a link to a historical journal which spelled out the whole thing.
Oh and Mr. whoever-you-are, who is always sending me delta blues recordings, I can’t check out my Twitter site anymore without have my earphones handy – wonderful or as Mitt Romney says, “marvelous.”
One late night, I’ll call him “deep thinker”, had a lot to say about the concept of hope. I took issue with his view, believing that there is a darker side to hope, and we had a back and forth, and both agreed that at the end of the conversation both our minds were a bit rewired. That’s nice.
I had a casual kind of man-to-man conversation with someone who later turned out to be a woman, which was a real head scratcher, and I have been rightfully taken to task a few times for being a little over the line. Opposition is an important part of group discussion which includes leading and following.
I have a ‘tweep’ who actually gets the math in quantum mechanics and I am very jealous, but have had some laughs with her. She is reading The Road to Reality (Penrose) with her husband, and as I said, she understands the first 300 pages of math. And, for the authors, word freaks, iconoclasts, progressives, et al, it’s really a great dormitory. None of you will ever make up for a hug or kiss, but you have come close a few nights.
Well that’s the short of it, I don’t have many followers who tell me what they are having for dinner and I really don’t care where most people geographically are in the mall, but (confession) I have said I was ready for a drink one night, and someone said, “I hear ya.”
It’s a new community and includes the Arab spring and the cabbage Peter had for dinner, but its okay.