16th Jul2010

Who are YOU on Twitter?

by Will

 

twitter

So, I’ve written about this before, but it bears saying again: I’m pretty much obsessed with twitter. I’m so obsessed that I feel I waste most of my creative juices over there instead of here. I’ve got Ubertwitter on the old Blackberry Tour (neither of them are paying me for that plug, but they oughta be!), and I find myself checking the thing every 5 minutes or so. What’s great about Ubertwitter is a feature called “Everyone Near You”, which uses your phone’s GPS to find all unprotected tweets in your vicinity. This little feature has led to HOURS of entertainment. It’s like slowly driving down a street where everyone has left their door open. Yeah, that might sound creepy to some, but I’ve always been nosy, and if they wanted their stuff to be private, they’d protect their tweets! Anyway, this feature has revealed a lot of new interesting people worth following, but it has also served to bring to light certain traits and patterns I’ve noticed. Whenever I’m in a new area, I fire up the old “Everyone Near You” to get a lay of the land; it’s an anthropological study akin to visiting shopping malls to see the latest youth trends. I thought I’d share some of  these observations, so that you can use this info to figure out how you might appear to others on twitter.

Avatars are KEY. You can learn a LOT about a tweeter based on the image that they post to represent themselves. Your parents and elementary school teachers like to tell you not to judge a book by its cover, but they’re dumb liars. If that little adage were true, there’d be no comic book industry! In any case, I’ve been temping in DC lately, and midday tweeters have been a GOLDMINE for entertainment. Here are a few things that stand out in the DC area:

-If she’s a young, attractive blond girl (the blond is KEY) wearing pearls, she’s tweeting about GOP issues. I guess it’s the influx of interns, but every Southern Chi Omega girl seems to be tweeting the virtues of the Republican party, or trying to defend the Tea Partiers.  Well, they’ve got their looks…

-If she’s a young, attractive girl, sans pearls, she works in sales/marketing or public relations. Most of her timeline consists of her @replying to some company, asking “How do I reach corporate relations?” She’s trying to establish what’s known as a “business relationship” – kinda like when you leave your business card in that fishbowl at Applebee’s. Hope she meets them quotas!

-If she’s in her mid 30s, and still attractive but not quite MILF material, she’s tweeting for an association. Sure, she tries to trick you by mixing in tweets about her dog or the cupcake she’s about to scarf, but the majority of her tweets are about some upcoming conference. They’re full of hashtags like #ANCC10 or #SWAYDC. My favorite part of these tweeters is that they usually have the following message in their twitter bios: “Views expressed are mine and not those of my employer”. I guess that’s a mandatory requirement of the social networking policy of many employers, but the recent CNN incident with Octavia Nasr pretty much goes to show that little blurb won’t save your job. Also, the placement of that disclaimer is moot due to the fact that most of these tweeters shy away from anything interesting. At most, they might upset the Froyo Lobby by saying Tangysweet is better than Greenberry.

A distant relative of the Association Tweeter is the Informed Retweeter. These are usually middle aged men, who either work for an association, or they’ve published some study that no one outside their field has ever read. It’s funny – association women seem to be on conference hype patrol, while the men spend most of the day retweeting shit from NPR. We’ve clearly come so far in our gender roles. If I’m already following NPR, why do I need to follow YOU? Step up your game, George! Anyway, most of their timelines are comprised of retweets from respected news and literary sources, without any real commentary. It’s the equivalent of that guy who subscribes to the New Yorker, just so it’s on the coffee table if company drops by.

It’s also fun to stumble upon celebrities. Since this is the DC/Metro area, most of our “celebrities” tend to be of the political variety. Still, it’s kinda funny to see a John McCain tweet or some local newscaster come up in your feed. The interesting thing, however, is linked to how Ubertwitter was designed. You see, the location of tweets are based on the point of origin. Since there are a lot of organizations in DC, with LA/celebrity supporters, you’ll sometimes get those tweets, since they’re retweeting something that originated from one of those DC orgs. For example, the other day, I found myself muttering, “When the Hell did Brooke Hogan move to DC? I wonder if Hulk came with her!” Sadly, I realized that tweet only came up because she had retweeted something from the National Wildlife Federation.

The stuff I see isn’t isolated to just the DC area. Of course, you’ve still got all of your usual suspects. For example, you’ve got the Justin Bieber fanatics. Keep in mind, school’s out and these girls don’t have anything better to do. They all have names like “JennyBieber” or “KristyBelieber”, and their avatars are that pic of him – you know, the one where he’s wearing that hat.

Another usual suspect is the Foursquare Tweeter, whose timeline is comprised mainly of foursquare check-ins. I don’t know why anyone follows these people. Seriously, I could give a fuck that you just went to Washington Sports Club. Check in somewhere interesting. If I saw “@scratchnsniff just unlocked the antibiotic badge at Dr. Kelly’s”, THAT would be some informative and entertaining shit. Otherwise, I think Foursquare is only interesting to people who want to be murdered in horrible ways – and their stalkers. Foursquare would be better if you were required to check in from unique places, like “@JohnnyDC just unlocked the “Employees Only Badge” in the Frederick Walmart Stockroom”. Any motherfucker can walk into a CVS, so why do you expect me to be impressed by you tweeting it?

You also have the people who may be using twitter for more than entertainment. It’s almost like they use it for affirmation. I know I tend to value my worth some days based on retweets. Hell, I think of twitter as a virtual stand-up act, but that’s about it. I don’t really feel like I have a captive audience. On the other hand, you’ve got the people who say “Good morning” to their followers, and then sign off when they’re about to go to sleep. Really? That’s like people who talk to their plants. I’ve got some good e-pals on this thing, but I think it’s understood that I’m online when I can be, and I’m not when I can’t. I don’t need to signal it with a greeting. The people who open and close the day on twitter, to me, are like that public speaker who says “Good morning”, and then repeats it when the response “good morning” from the crowd is lackluster. We know you’re there ’cause you’re tweeting; it’s unnecessary to announce your arrival/departure. I know somebody reading this right now is one of those people, so tell me – do people “good morning” tweet you back? I’m curious.

Something to keep in mind is “what does my twitter screenname say about me?” When I worked in college admissions, we’d always laugh at the email addresses of the applicants. You’re applying to an Ivy League institution, and you put DragonLord666@hotmail.com on your application? Your parents didn’t proofread this for you, did they? The same could be said about twitter. If your screenname is @HusseinDaAssasin, I think it’s safe to say that you’re on a list somewhere. You may not know it, but you are.

So, these have been my experiences with twitter. What have been some of yours?