Twitter, shmitter. Yes, I'm a journalist, so I'm on Twitter. Which makes me a Twitterer, or a Tweeter, or a twit--I'm not sure which. I don't use it much, mostly for communicating random thoughts and observations to an audience of about 12, although I am just starting to formulate a "strategy" for Tweeting professionally.
When I first signed up just a few short months ago, Twitter was still a curiosity--a sort of short-attention-span blogging tool that was catching on mostly with techno-celebrities and the heartiest Internet geeks. But in the few short months since I initially signed up, Twitter has turned into the National Enquirer of the Internet. I can no longer escape the cascade of Twitter stories flooding news feeds, and the lunacy of the coverage has officially reached disturbingly epic proportions.
Take the story from United Press International a few days ago detailing the oldest-known Twitterer -- a 104-year-old British woman named Ivy Bean. Don't get me wrong, I love stories about elderly people staying active and defying the aging process. But there's a big difference between a 100-year-old batboy and a retiree typing her intention to take a nap.
And don't even get me started about the half-million idiots following the Tweets of a cat named Sockington. Then again, who can resist such gripping updates as, "STOP TALKING TO LOWER HALF OF SOCKS LYING IN DOORWAY upper half in other room also disinterested." I have to admit, that is one articulate cat.
Slightly more sensible is the thinking of hungry street-food seekers who are following the Tweets of their favorite gourmet food trucks, many of whom have begun Tweeting to inform customers of their expected whereabouts on a given day. I know I've gone to much greater lengths than that in order to find a good, quick lunch. But I'd never in a million years have thought to connect social networking with mobile tacos.
Conversely, social networking would seem to be an ideal match for the hotel industry, which is always looking for new ways to communicate with, and provide service for, its guests. But no matter how effective and simple something like Twitter can be to create a communication channel with a hotel concierge, the idea of a major American company like Hyatt Hotels announcing a Tweeting strategy (hey, Hyatt and I have something in common!) assigns Twitter a level of business import that seems in excess of even the founders' views on its commercial potential.
No matter--Despite its foggy future, Twitter is certainly causing us, as a society, to redefine the way we interact. For a really sensational example of this, look no further than news from Dallas , where a family was breaking new ground Monday by providing Twitter updates of a surgical procedure in which the father is donating a kidney to his ailing son. The idea is to keep family and friends in other parts of the country updated on the progress of the operation. Seems logical enough, but something tells me there are HIPAA advocates all over the country climbing the walls over this one. Maybe they should start a Twitter feed to air their concerns.
And while they're at it, they can start keeping track of Sockington's fur balls.