If I’m going to ask what YOUR handle is, I probably should give mine, yeah? So, if you Tweet & want to follow/be followed, I’m @the8tregirl
I got into a bit of a discussion yesterday on Twitter with noted theatre critic J Kelly Nestruck and dramaturge/actor Toby Malone about selling stuff on Twitter, and what happens when someone whose writing skill is greatly admired – thus why you follow them – becomes a shill for various retailers, which is why you may now need to unfollow them.
How each of us feels about it I will leave to you to think about – or ask, if you really need to know – because what I want to focus on is how interesting it was to have this discussion at all! I read Kelly’s criticisms faithfully and I will be going to see Toby in OUR TOWN at Soulpepper next month, but I know neither man personally. Except… now I kinda feel I do.
Not just because of the conversation about shilling, but because I’ve been “following” both on Twitter for a few months, and now both of them are “following” me (just as an aside, I am vaguely uncomfortable using the word “follow” because it has stalker-ish connotations for me, which I know are ridiculous in this context but still, it’s there in the back of my mind), so this sort of conversation could happen again. And I hope it does!
This is one of the benefits of sharing interests and perspectives on Twitter. It’s just 140 characters, but that makes you focus. There’s no room for fluff and adjectives – it’s all idea and muscle. Or should be, the aforesaid shilling aside. I am a person of catholic tastes, so I read/am read by people in various industries and pursuits, and again, I think that’s the pleasure of Twitter. In no other reality (or at least, not since I stopped doing my talk show) would I have the chance to share ideas with Simon Winchester and Molly O’Neill, or find out about Janet Somerville, a great teacher in the GTA who’s working with Grade 11 & 12 boys, helping them fall in love with good books and tweeting about them, or be able to help my friends and colleagues share their successes in theatre, literature and other pursuits, and of course I have previously mentioned my slavish devotion to @herbadmother, who makes me laugh and think and cry, which is tough to do in 140 characters.
This, of course, completely ignores the two gossip sites I follow like a cut ‘n curl maven
Facebook is wonderful, goodness knows I love the blogosphere as writer and reader, but Twitter has captured my imagination in ways I wouldn’t have believed a year ago when I first started Tweeting for the theatre that shall not be named. It offers such great opportunity for personal enlightenment, for professional development, and yes, even for selling stuff you think nobody wants. And, let’s not forget, there is a decided fun factor.
But what really makes Twitter extraordinary, beyond the effect that any other social media has in the world right now, is the power it has to affect… everything. We see it in the unrest in the Middle East, same thing that’s happening (to a lesser extent) in the demonstrations in Wisconsin and Ohio, and with the creativity of flash mobs that have been bringing music and dance and moments of guerilla theatre to the marketplace.
I don’t go a day now without checking in three or four times to see what’s going on, if I have direct messages, personal responses, and in turn offering my own humble opinions or random thoughts or, sometimes, just plain trivial passing whiffs of almost ideas. Also, I like keeping up with Thomas Gibson’s feet, but that’s a very personal situation I have with his beautiful, beautiful shoes….