So, hey, I am about to (or just have) passed 50,000 followers on Twitter, which makes it a nice moment to have a couple of thoughts about the service.
1. Yay, 50K followers, almost all of whom are real people and not spambots or a bunch of eyeball-hungry twitterfreaks engaging in a mutual SEO handjob. Basically, if you’re following me, you tend to be a real live person who wants to be following me. So, you know. Thank you.
2. I gained 40% of those followers in roughly the last year, since a year ago this month I was getting plastered in frosting on Neil Gaiman’s front lawn to mark the occasion of reaching 30,000 followers. I’ll be curious if this sort of accumulation continues .
3. Any time I feel smug about 50k Twitter followers, I just have to think about Wil and his two million plus followers. That takes care of that.
4. On the flip side of that, I am frequently amazed at the people who I think are awesome who have fewer Twitter followers than I do. That just seems wrong.
5. Obviously, I know only a very small fraction of the people who follow me. I suspect most of the people who follow me do so because they were fans of me and/or this blog and/or my books. However, I do suspect that a non-trivial portion of my Twitter followers found out about me on Twitter, through retweets or following conversations I have with other people they follow. They might not even know what else I do. I kind of like this.
In general, I expect most people follow me because they want me to amuse them. I think this is fine. I like being amusing on Twitter.
6. I follow (currently) 275 people, almost all of whom are people I know personally in one way or another. There are very few people on my follow list who I don’t know in some way (or at the very least, are not close friends of people on my list who are close friends with me). In fact, here are the only complete strangers to me on the list: Mara Wilson, Daniel Lanois, Lee Newton, William Beckett, Hank Steuver, Vienna Teng, Sam Bisbee, Wesley Stace and Johnette Napolitano.
I follow these folks because, well, I’m a fan, basically. These people are great musicians and/or good writers and/or funny as hell. However, I feel a little weird following people I don’t know and even weirder when I tweet at them; I worry about coming across as, you know, creepy. Yes, I have Fan Tweet Anxiety. And then when they occasionally tweet back at me, and I’m all, like, oh kewl they’re totally my Twitter friends and we could have awesome adventures together! Which kind of validates my whole “I’m coming across creepy” concern, I think.
All of which is to say I am really no good at being a fan on Twitter. Yes, I suppose this is a little bit ironic.
7. As noted before, I think most people on Twitter follow me because they want to me to be amusing there. I follow people not because I want them to be amusing, per se, but because in general they are friends of mine and it’s a really cool way to feel connected to them during the day — and because my friends tend to be clever people, they are often amusing as well. Given the open nature of Twitter, that means we are often amusing together, to the delight of bystanders. Twitter, in other words, is finely tuned for garrulous exhibitionists. I like that about it.
8. It’s also interesting to me how differently I use Twitter from Facebook. On Twitter, I am largely in performance mode, saying and doing (hopefully) funny and amusing things, with occasional side trips on my various hobby horses. I figure that most of the people on Twitter know me because of my public persona as an opinionated writer dude, and there’s no harm continuing that persona there, and anyway I don’t take it personally when people unfollow me.
With Facebook, on my personal, private account, I do almost none of those things. I am relatively quiet there, and have a personal rule not to post about any contentious topics, or to respond to any. The reason for that is that most of the people I friend on Facebook are family and old friends, many of whom have drastically different political and social views than I do, and many of whom I suspect have never been to this blog or read me on Twitter. I don’t want to argue with them about any damn thing. What I want to do on Facebook is see pictures of their kids and pets, not have the online equivalent of a permanent, awkward Thanksgiving dinner.
The difference between the two is why I like Twitter so much more than Facebook. I like what Facebook does for me — keeps me in contact with very old friends and family — but I like being on Twitter.
9. I won’t lie: I kinda wish Twitter would validate my account. It’s a pointless ego bauble, but it’s also a pointless ego bauble a lot of my friends already have and I want to too. There, I said it.
10. Hey, did I say thanks if you follow me on Twitter? I did? Well, let me say it again: Thanks.