On September 1st, I stepped into a vast new technological world that I surprisingly had not previously dabbled in: Twitter. Like any person with any iota of technological knowledge, I thought I knew what Twitter was. I thought it was like Facebook, except only status updates. Despite this seemingly simple setup, Twitter was the next big thing. It seemed like more and more of my friends were using the service. Celebrities, athletes, companies, and publications were all advertising their Twitter feeds. There had to be something inside this electronic world that would cause such a phenomenal response. After a quick realization that in the worst case, I could just close my account, I stepped off the ledge. Mike Flick became @flickerbock. As I signed up, I still had some doubts about Twitter in general. My biggest concern in taking the plunge was that I would get no personal value out of the service.
As with any social networking device, the first thing you do when you sign up is allow the service to check your email contacts to see who is already using the service. This makes it incredibly easy to find the people you most likely would like to follow. It amazed me how many of my friends and family already had accounts. A large portion of those people obviously had not touched any Twitter related things for some time (or ever). But they were still on there. My Twitter life had begun.
Once I found my friends, I started exploring. One name always comes up in conversations about Twitter - Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk). He is easily one of the most well publicized Tweeters out there, having embraced the 24-hour connection to his fans. Plus, I had heard of his Twitter battle with CNN (@cnnbrk) where he beat CNN to 1 million followers. As an unofficial spokesperson for Twitter, I quickly added him to my list of 'followed'. I had my token celebrity.
After that, it was just an exercise in wandering through this digital collection of people I respect, enjoy, or admire (or all three except for CJS!). Robby Gordon (@RobbyGordon), Penn Jillette (@pennjillette), the Cru Jones Society (@CruJonesSociety), Steve Fairchild (@CoachFairchild), and others.
Now that I have established my list of people, we need to address the big concern going into this adventure - I needed to have some sort of personal gain from these tweets. Amazingly, personal gain was easy and fast.
My requisite personal gain came from all directions. This venue allows you to catch passing glances into others' lives. By posting their status, by sending a picture of their current location, by sharing a link to a website that discusses a subject they are truly passionate about, or by just asking a simple question looking for feedback, I was able to see what life is like for that person in real time. This seems like an appropriate time for an example. Andrew Schaefer (@andyschaef) is a friend of mine that lives literally a mile or so away from my house. How often to Schaefer and I see each other? Maybe twice a year. Yet through Twitter, we are able to communicate about our lives, our work, and our fun, making Twitter worthwhile.
Ok, enough with the touchy-feely connection crap (although it is true). The best part about Twitter is Bill Simmons (@sportsguy33). Some of you may know him as 'The Sports Guy' on ESPN.com. As an avid follower of his column, his presence on Twitter was a driving force in getting me started. And it was totally worth it. The SG is easily one of the busiest Tweeters I follow. His Tweets are funny, link to some crazy stuff, and are always entertaining. My favorite thus far came this week after the Dolphins controlled the football for 45 minutes in their loss to the Colts: 'My postgame question for Tony Sparano: Tony, that's one of the worst coaching jobs I've ever seen. I don't have a question.'
Another SG Tweet during the Jets/NE game: 'I'm not saying they're babying Mark Sanchez today, but he's sitting in a high chair when the Jets D is on the field.'
Will Twitter ever become greater than sitting down with a buddy over beers? Never. But it has become a great way to keep connected to people that you don't necessarily see all the time. If you have thought about joining Twitter, I would encourage it. And while you're on there, look me up (@flickerbock). Hopefully you enjoy yourself out there.
'Til the next post,