Life in the Boomer Lane was intending to wait until I understood Twitter a bit more before writing anything about it. But she knows that, in the past, her lack of knowledge about any specific topic has never stopped her from writing about it, and she felt that, like Justin Bieber, Twitter fell into the vast area of All That Stuff That People Talk About So I Should Be Talking About It Also. And, anyway, she is personally a Twitter user (DCBoomerHumor and InvisibleNoMore, for those of you who can’t get enough of her). She has now been using Twitter for several months, and, like Justin Bieber, the mysteries keep accumulating.
First off, she is not on Twitter to follow Justin Bieber. But she will say something about him anyway. She kept seeing his name as one of the “trending topics” on Twitter. After she finally realized that he was a different person than Martin Buber (For a long time she kept wondering why everyone in Twitterland cared so much about Martin Buber), she finally Googled him. She had just acclimated herself to being comfortable knowing that most superstars are her children’s age. Justin Bieber, who turned 16 about three minutes ago, could easily be her grandson. If you have no idea who Justin Bieber is, it doesn’t matter. Unless he becomes the international spokesperson for Haagen Dazs and becomes personally responsible for creating three entirely new flavors of ice cream, all utilizing coffee and chocolate, LBL can’t imagine that she will ever mention him in a column again. We’ll all just leave Justin alone for awhile, until his voice gets deeper and all of his grown up teeth come in.
Back to Twitter. LBL joined Twitter for boring reasons: to promote her book and her humor column. She has never followed anyone randomly (Sorry, Barack, if I were to follow anyone, it would be you). She simply wanted to connect with others in her demographic. She has since noticed several things:
1. There are a lot of people on Twitter who have tens of thousands of followers and who are following tens of thousands of people. Aside from this being, in general, a creepy thought, how does someone generate that many followers without being a head of state? LBL has looked at what these people do, and, forgive her, but they seem like ordinary people. Is there a place on Twitter where you can follow the entire population of a mid-size city, and in return, they are required to follow you?
2. LBL is being informed that she is following more and more people of whom she has no knowledge. Nor does she want to. Some of them are teens in the UK who want to share all their deepest thoughts with LBL, most of which LBL can’t understand, even though she believes they are speaking some form of English. Others are people in Singapore, who are definitely speaking something other than English. Most of these, though, are IT types or people who guarantee LBL that she can stay at home, sit in front of her computer, and make millions of dollars by doing nothing at all. (She tried that for a couple days, but all that happened was that she got caught up on allher email, thereby generating even more email in return.)
3. LBL is now receiving Twitter messages through my personal email account from people who say things like “Wow, good to know you and I share so much. Let me know what you think!” This will be followed by a tiny URL (I don’t know what the technical word for these things is) for something about bass fishing techniques or a musical genre enjoyed by my LBL’s Beloved Son-in-Law and about 130 other people on the planet. This morning, she got a message from Dave_Carpenter, who wrote: “Auto-confirming my choice to follow; but be assured my future DM’s will be the real deal. Looking forward to ‘hearing’ your voice.” Dave, LBL have no control over your wanting to follow a 62 year old realtor, but why does that mean she has to then receive messages from you?
LBL now spends a lot of time hunting these people down and either “unfollowing” them or “blocking” them. But it always concerns her. If they have the power to make her follow them without her doing anything, what other power do they have? Will they retaliate by ordering things for her from those catalogs her aunt used to get that specialize in bed jackets, slippers, and torso harnesses that help you stand up straight? Worse, will they force her to follow Justin Bieber? (Sorry, she promises that was really the last Justin Bieber reference.) Or the ultimate worse, that her name becomes associated with bass fishing, beyond-alternative music listening, and/or Confederate History Month?
For those of you who want to hear more about Twitter, as filtered through LBL’s unique experience of it, you are in luck. She is going to start saving some of the tweets she gets, especially the ones that might be of benefit to you (like ones from MrCashOnline and from the folks who know about teeth whitening tricks dentists don’t want you to know about). Stay tuned.