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The 140 Characters that Dictate my Life


I recently joined Twitter – admittedly with some apprehension – as a necessity towards getting my book and myself ‘out and about’. (There was a time when getting yourself out and about was a physical undertaking, but now you can get there from the comfort of your own home, whilst sitting or even lying down!) But it takes courage because it’s an intimidating world. It’s like gate-crashing a party that only the cool people have been invited to. And although it’s easy to get through the door, you’re left crawling around in a sea of legs like a small child, pulling on the skirts and trousers of strangers, trying to find your mum.

So I began to tentatively navigate my way through this mysterious world, first by suggesting, politely, that people might like to follow me so they could hear about my new book… silence. I then posted a couple of links to my site and blog… nothing. Then I plugged a few other bloggers (re-tweeted is the term)… nada. By this point I was beginning to feel like a pig at a bar mitzvah. So I reached for the final weapon in my arsenal and resorted to begging. Apparently that’s not the done thing. After a couple of spams offering to sell me followers, I received a firm but gentle message from some kind person saying ‘You gain more followers by participating in Twitter, by interacting constructively, by networking, and building friendships’. In other words, impudent newbie, you’ve got to put the time and effort in!

Shortly after what I can only imagine is Twitter’s initiation period, a few people took pity on me and began following me, and suddenly I wasn’t alone anymore. I had become one of them: a Twit, if that’s an accepted term. I don’t suppose it is, but I’ve joined a club that allows you to say exactly what you feel at any given moment. And it’s surprisingly addictive. It’s a release for all those pent-up opinions, and the great thing is, because you are only allowed 140 characters there’s no endless ranting. You must get straight to the point in just a few words. Admittedly there are times when I have nothing to say, but I feel like I should say something just to make my presence known, so that’s when I whack in a line from my novel, and hey presto, I’m back in the game!

And it is a game; aside from wanting to be the one to utilise the 140 characters in the most profound and influential way, it’s actually all about how many followers you have. That is your badge of honour, proof that you weren’t picked last for the team, respect at last for who you are and what you are trying to do. That number, heckling you from the screen, is your nemesis, and the only way to beat it is to tweet as if your life depended on it.

I’ve never been one for blowing my own trumpet, but I’m having to learn how, and tweeting seems to be an acceptable way of doing it. And presumably the more followers you have the more people there are to listen to you play. So as I pucker up and head back onto the stage I have only one hope; that everyone will enjoy the show.

@EmilyPattullo

#twitter #writer #tweeting #follow #twit

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