Back in 2006 one busy Monday, an Australian friend, JoJo, rang and down the phone exclaimed “I now have 5 people following me going into McDonalds, it’s kind of weird”. I wasn’t sure whether to be worried or underwhelmed. This new media savvy girl has a history of cross dressing, an obsession with Taxidermy and a sexuality that could rival Tiger Woods, so I am over being shocked. She soon explained that she was on Twitter, a microblog on which you create a profile, post stuff and people follow you cyberly. I rather arrogantly thought this sounded ludicrous and was destined for the world wide web trash heap along with other social networks bebo and Hi5.
How wrong could I have been? Just short of 6 years later, twitter has just over 140 million active users, generates over 340 million tweets daily, and is still growing. Frightening. It now has its on dictionary helping the novice with an entirely new vocabulary of abbreviations and slang known as “Twerminology”. What started as internal service for an online search destination website (whatever that is) is now one of the top ten most visited sites on the internet. My friend JoJo is one of many friends, foes and famous faces who have taken to the broadband waves, to “tweet” about anything that takes their fancy.
I have had a rather tardy response to the fast developing world of social media. I incredulously joined Twitter only recently, not knowing what to expect or how to “do” it, but I wanted a piece of this pie. Before long I am talking in 140 character sentences and getting overly enthusiastic with the hashtag (#). It has quickly become evident that Twitter is transforming the way we communicate. It’s a whole new world and as a Neweeter (new tweeter) one I know very little about. But I am learning, fast. I now have access to a plethora of riveting information; I can see what Stephen Fry is having for lunch, that Katy Perry REALLY loves her sister, Jennifer Saunders feels election programmes are akin to a dry heave and I can comment on such things if I so desire. Twitter feels like a legitimate form of stalking, and is worryingly addictive.
I am still at the beginning of my Twitter journey but I have already discovered its esteeming benefits. My heart skips a beat on discovering someone new has followed me. As the follower numbers begin to rise I start to feel like my status as a human being is on the up. I start to dream big, thinking that maybe, just maybe I might one day reach the dizzy Nicki Minaj heights of (let me just check quickly) 11,191,447 followers. If I'm worth following I'm cool right? This morning, I am bordering on deranged with excitement about checking who my 20th fan is. It turns out to be sex worker looking to pull in clients from her seriously below par sex work website. Sad times.
With this I learn a cruel lesson. These tweeters are fickle rascals who, if you don’t follow them back, keep them entertained or prove useful for their careers...they un-follow you! Now, I’m sure Justin Bieber doesn’t go and cry in the loo when Birdie-Lou from deepest darkest Texas decides she is bored of his cutsie one liners and shameless self promotion. In fact, I don’t think he would even notice losing a follower. But when one only has 20 one is painfully aware when another withdraws their support. Today I lost 2. Where did I go wrong? I can be different! I can change!
Now, the blue tick. @Tylerjames777 (singer/songwriter and artist with #teamwill on BBC1’s The Voice) tweeted elatedly about being given one of these coveted blue ticks. On further inspection, I realise all the popular kids in the playground have one. I want one. How do I get one? I consult the Twitter Help Centre which kindly informs me that when you receive a blue tick you have been “verified”.
Verification is currently used to establish authenticity of identities on Twitter. The verified badge helps users discover high-quality sources of information and trust that a legitimate source is authoring the account’s Tweets.
What are you saying? I am not a high quality source of information? Because I only have 20 followers? Brutal. In short, to be verified you need to be someone of note. Apparently I am not at “high risk” of being impersonated so, no tick for me.
I am late to the party and experiencing a baptism of fire, but I have arrived and plan on catching up. I am on the road to twitter domination one hashtag and witty quip at a time. Hold me back people. Hold me back.
JoJo and I are no longer close but thanks to Twitter, I can still see what queer leisure pursuit she is now engaging in.
Oh, and Nicki Minaj now has 11,442,557 followers.
Signing off for the day.