Tweet Emotions: Notes on the Process of Futility [Pt. 2]

I pass any number of unknown citizens of the County of Orange on my sojourn to work each morning, and out of the handful that actually come within spitting distance of me, early a.m. pleasantries are often exchanged. Luckily, no spit so far, but also never more than a quick two words. “Good morning,” and sometimes, even this already brief message finds itself truncated down to a single noun announcing the time period in which we find ourselves all mostly reluctantly trudging along. On occasion, after a couple of years passing about three or four of the bike riders, a longer greeting has emerged, usually a rhetorical query heard as their bike goes hurtling past, either from myself or from their lips.

I do not personally know a single one of these individuals, though we clearly have all grown used to passing each other, and the once cautious stares on both parts have drifted into polite familiarity. That they will never become friends of mine does not matter. It is the inherent politeness of a high-functioning society that begs us to tolerate each other. I have to go that way this morning, and back this way in the afternoon, and vice versa for them. So, let’s all get along on our travels. Which we do. None of us really wanted to take part in this, but we are here, and we make the best of it.

While Twitter itself is wholly voluntary, and my inclusion amongst its users was a step taken openly on my part, I still can’t help but feel a similarity in the way I approach those that share the same online space with me. I can’t help but feel that I am merely travelling the same path with hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of others without really fully engaging in any of the traffic, and only tolerating the constant idiot drip of American Idol and swine flu tweets because I simply must. Polite nods are par for the course, whether or not you care or even notice what others are tweeting, even if you have exchanged "follower" status. Over the course of last weekend, after a week of little activity, I saw my followers swell from sub-70 to over 130 (now 140), for reasons of which I am truly unsure, for there seems to be little sense to the advance. (This doesn't count the forty or so phony accounts or obnoxious marketeers who tried to storm the gates, all of whom I blocked, otherwise I would be nearing 200 at this point.) After all, I didn’t try to do anything to get them, so why did they show up? Then, as swiftly as the deluge of “friends” began, it stopped tight. The cork was apparently stuffed unceremoniously back into the bottle, and it has been a slow trickling since then.

This is dandy with me, because as I noted before, I actually only know less than two fistfuls of these followers personally. For whatever vague reasons, the wealth of friends and acquaintances I have on Facebook, all but a couple of them people with whom I have shared spatial existence throughout years past, has not translated to the Twitter-verse. Looking back to the recent past, I was on Facebook for quite some time before many of these people arrived, while the bulk of those who had yet to transfer there had been mired in the MySpace swamp, and all well before I made my brief attempt at socializing in that Pit of Despair before moving on to a cleaner, less cluttered dungeon (I mean this in the design sense, which really does not hold true for Facebook anymore, the bastards). And while frequent Twitter usage might seem like a grand way to meet new friends – after all, it is a “social” network, is it not? – and certainly more so than on Facebook (where profiles are blocked from non-"friends" until accepted), I am unsure if I have the means to carry through on this end of my supposed contract with this piece of software.

Yes, I have engaged in brief conversations with a half-dozen or so persons of unknown reputation (except from the assumed histories which they place on their own profiles and webpages, which, in turn, is equally as much as they receive of my own), and I have enjoyed these brief contacts. I also look forward to hearing from people interested in genuine, non-marketing, non-promotional interface. But, even while enjoying these fleeting moments of fresh personal contact, I will likely never really know most of them, and as such, cannot really consider them anything beyond "followers." That phrase is there for, I suspect, a very well-defined reason: that we are merely on the same online path as everyone else on Twitter, and that the bulk of "relationships" on any person's page are of the polite nod variety of which I spoke. "Good morning..." "Good morning to you. How are you today?"

Which brings me back to questioning my reasons for using Twitter in the first place...

[To be concluded...]

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