I told the Facebook community yesterday that I have been a closet Twit for the last month. (What, did you miss the press conference?) And it's true: I have been cataloging the events of my life in 140-character statements.
I don't know what made me decide to try Twitter. When I first heard the concept behind it, it seemed inane. In fact, it still does. But it held a certain fascination. For someone who has a hard time "shutting up" when he starts to write, the challenge of saying all there is to say in such a limited space seemed a good way to rein in my sometimes errant writing. Has it benefited me in this regard? I'll let my readers decide.
One thing that I haven't figured out about Twitter so far is what it's good for. I'm following people, and they're following me, but I don't always care what they say, nor, I'm sure, do those who follow me care what I say. I feel in some regard like Twitter is a one-sided confessional. I throw my updates into the ether and hope someone, somewhere hears and cares. I've also tried to make my tweets more than simple statements of what I'm doing, but statements of what I'm thinking. I don't know if I've succeeded in this, but that's my goal. Also to say clever things, though this often falls flat.
I suppose a good use for Twitter (perhaps the best one I've found) is a fast and easy way to spread links. Aside from the RSS feeds I read (which, if you don't have Google Reader or something equivalent to read this and other blogs, I highly recommend), I don't read much on the Internet. Those I follow on Twitter have shared links to articles that I might not otherwise have read (and have even led me to additional feeds to add to my Reader). I also do enjoy clever tweets, and there are certainly some who are better at it than others.
But is that all Twitter is for me, a way to find articles and a source of entertainment? That's what Facebook is, with the added benefit of knowing what my friends are up to (though I constantly wonder, is it necessary for me to know this? It satisfies curiosity, but if I'm either unwilling or too busy or too forgetful to contact these friends individually, do I deserve to know what's going on in their lives?). And these thin reasons for my participating in Facebook and Twitter are probably why I constantly teeter on the brink of backing out altogether. Of course, on the other hand, the two primary sources of traffic for this blog--which is probably my favorite online endeavor--are also these social networking sites. Why do I write a public blog if not to receive traffic? I'd be back to the one-sided confessional again. I have to wonder, how necessary are these services in my life? I always say they aren't, yet I haven't given up on them either. Kudos to Abby, who deleted her Facebook account earlier this year. I am still too weak.
What are your thoughts on Twitter and Facebook? What are they good for? What's the use of staying connected?
Oh, and if you want to follow me on Twitter, you can do so @FarmerLenny. I'll try not to be boring.