A couple of nights ago on twitter someone I respect and admire posted that she felt unheard, ignored, not acknowledged. I know that feeling—it's as if there's some secret to being popular and I don't know it. Some people get retweeted (their messages forwarded by others) often. They're responded to. More and more people follow them. Often it's celebrities, as if Kirstie Alley or Alyssa Milano's thoughts are far more pithy than others (they're not). Then there are twitter celebrities. I'm sure there's a catchy name for that but I'm not playing. People with tens of thousands of followers. I find they generally fall into 2 categories. Self proclaimed social media strategists or the-universe-is-filled-with-light-so-I'm-spreading-joy-and-wisdom enthusiasts. And then, there are the rest of us.
I shared that my most commented on facebook status (the other social media entity I'm far less addicted to) was my dislike of parsley. That inspired dialog, discussion, heightened emotions, cooking tips, character analysis—it went on for more than a day. Parsley was a social media lighting rod. But, when I talk politics, publishing, relationships, parenthood . . . not so much.
It seems it's the inane that get people talking, the surface, the shallow, the quick thoughts with no depth to support them.
The promises that if you follow this person, you'll find social media success because just knowing them will somehow rub off on you. And, I wonder, what is that success? Is it increased business? Personal satisfaction? Having 50,000 followers?
As I write this, I get where I'm going.
Twitter is a mirror to current reality. Instant celebrity. Popularity. Trying, with hype, overt enthusiasm, attitude, to come out on top. For those of us not at the summit, often following the ones who make it there with a reverence that's often not deserved.
When I first started on twitter I asked a friend in pr, far more experienced in this than me, how it worked. His advice: follow popular people, get them to engage with you and then hopefully their followers will be interested and will follow you too.
Sounds eerily like befriending the head cheerleader.
I want to know why people with far less experience than me inspire fascination and hero worship. There are no absolutes in social media. There is no truth, no matter what they say. It's changing, evolving, growing. It's the epitome of impersonal with soul-bearing moments. It's helpful and horrendous, a real time glance into what people are thinking mired in nonsense.
It's a look-at-me popularity contest. And smart, insightful, thoughtful people can feel like losers when they send thoughts out into the twitterverse and no one answers.
I've been there. Most of the time. I'm amazed at what people don't respond to.
Sometimes I feel like deleting my account and using my time more efficiently. Instead of mindlessly watching the stream go by, actually writing my book. Talking to real people. Making contacts, going to museums, engaging in the world. Thinking more deeply than thoughts that need to be truncated to fit each post.
But, while I write this, every few minutes I check to see if anyone's written to me.
Even though it's endlessly distracting, frustrating, ego-bruising at times, I'm not ready to give it up yet.
I'm feeling the L glowing on my forehead.