Sunday, February 15, 2009

My Thoughts on Twitter: or How I Learned Stephen Fry Blocked Me

Twitter is something that I have been actively avoiding for a while now. Sure, I facebook. Sure, I blog. Sure, I know a lot about the different Google Apps (my latest experiment involves Google Notebook as a way to organize recipes I find). However, Twitter seemed a bit outside of my purview.

But then something changed. Stephen Fry started Tweeting.

As one of the original followers of his eloquent, insightful, intelligent, and humorous blog, The New Adventures of Mr. Stephen Fry, when he became more excited about the prospects, do did I. I followed excitedly as he reached his 100,000th member and requested more. There is even a T-Shirt: "I Tweeted @StephenFry and all I got was this lousy T-shirt."

Between Pogue's exploration , the work libraries are doing with the technology, and Stephen Fry, I was ready to take the obsessive plunge.

In the end, what really got me were Mr. Fry's words: "Most of all. Welcome to my twitterworld, I am delighted to have you as a follower. Let’s enjoy ourselves and to hell with those who don’t get it." Right then and there, I wanted to be part of this world!

It took a while to get used to it - to remember to post things and read the posts of others (especially since I have no mobile technology from which to tweet). Though, once I started keeping up with people, it was fun! Sure, I am just feeding the need for external validation - who really cares when I say "During my 'weekend,' the entire library seems to have moved to my desk - why are all these books here?" or "Watching a scary movie alone at midnight with a bottle of rose... what else would I be doing on a Thursday night?" - but then you read other people's tweets. You realize that you do care, that you follow their links, and laugh at their wit.

Then I discovered the tantalizing dark side: being blocked. Not only was I blocked by someone (meaning someone did not want me to follow them, ever), but I was blocked by my Twitter mentor, guru, and teacher - Stephen Fry.

Thousands of things ran through my head as frantically scrambled to find him again... what had I done?... what had I said?... did I not qualify as intelligent, witty or loquacious enough to count myself among his followers? Confusion reigned - I had never tried to make contact with him, never even mentioned him outside of a ramble about how he and Geoff Lloyd (the only other famous person I follow) were following each other. I swear! That is it!

I know it is hard to believe, but it brought about an existential crisis - rivaling that of the time I discovered they were discontinuing the light tan M&Ms! I mean, light tan is such an unappreciated color!

But what to do? What could I say to Mr. Fry as an apology? Nothing.

Twitter is a new format with new rules, not all of them clear. The role it can play with businesses, friends, and fame is still being tested. I like Pogue's insight when he wrote, "This was it: harnessing the power of the Web, the collective wisdom of strangers, in real time!"

For now, I will content myself with playing around and not set my standards that high. Getting blocked and blocking is where my excitement comes from. Trying to see how I can use this and, as Mr. Fry wrote, enjoy myself!

But I still miss your tweets, Mr. Fry. The Twitter world is fun, but a little quieter.


the blarney stone said...

Ha! How did you get blocked? That's awesome.

Cernunnos the Luddite said...

I do not know what Twitter is, but I'm sorry Fry blocked you. I wonder why he would do that. Perhaps it was just some sort of technological glitch. I am so out of touch with technology.