awkward

Surfing the Twittersphere

I once heard of this guy who’d wait till like 1 a.m. on a weekend and then run searches for #TacoBell. He’d retweet everyone that had just ordered the fastfood Tex-Mex and were now proliferating the Twitter-sphere with their 140-character puke stories.

What a nose for news, I thought… and spews.

This social media guru had dropped into the zeitgeist wave of those who chose to dine poorly. And I wondered: what other swells of the collective unconscious were cresting out there, just waiting for the listening surfer to ride?

Ninety-nine percent of twitter consists of soliloquy, substance, and nonsense.”

Like any good businessman, I had already developed a “bulletproof” marketing scheme for my Twitter handle, @DelODell. The idea came from watching an episode of MTV’s Rob & Big, starring skateboard legend and “relentless” entrepreneur @robdyrdek and Christopher @BigBlack Boykin. Ever the opportunist, Dyrdek was tagging prominently public landmarks and road signs up and down the LA streets, with customized bumper stickers that brandished his logo. He called the grassroots promotional tactic guerrilla marketing.

It would cost about $3 a pop to print my Twitter handle on each bumper sticker. So I settled for a screenprinted hooded sweatshirt that ran side-to-side in the front and up-and-down on the back: @DELODELL. If politicians on the campaign trail could kiss babies, I could get out to the public in person and rally some followers.

Next I would need to establish a unique identity. That meant not tweeting the normal bullshit. Now I’m no mathematician, but it seemed that 99 percent of Twitter consisted of soliloquy, substance, and nonsense. I would need to identify these unspoken rules of the popular social medium in order to eventually break them.

Soliloquy

Soliloquy are those self-realizing statements people publish to sound profound or, at the very least, observant.
“What’s the deal with… ”

“I hate when… ” or
“[This just happened.]”

Comic @robdelaney has mastered the shocking side of soliloquy:

Substance

You’ll see substantitive tweets on any website that outputs high volumes of content. News sites are good examples: @nytimes; @NESN; or for fake news, @TheOnion. All good. Their tweets are designed to route followers back to the website, where readers can digest content the news site is broadcasting over channel Twitter. I say substance because the tweet merely acts as a beacon harking back to a more substantial media: a video, a news story, some byte-sized bit of information that’s useful. The text of a tweet itself can be substantial, if it’s something like advice from a reliable source or it just plain makes sense and you benefit from it.

I say you benefit from it because everything’s relative. And that’s why I think many tweets to many people are substantial, making Twitter the half-billion strong powerhouse that it is today.

Nonsense

The rest of Twitter is primarily just nonsense. People who haven’t quite figured out the #hashtag. Angry, biggotted or trolling rants by people letting their emotions do the typing, rather than common sense and decency. Generally, just noise. If Twitter was a radio, nonsensical tweets would be the static in between stations.

I had tweeted my fair share of the 99 percent.

The soliloquy…

The substance…

And the nonsense…

These tweets were the 99 percent and I strove for the one. In fact, these tweets were the wave that I wished to ride. To surf the Twittersphere, I’d need to separate myself from this vast ocean of social information and stand upright, distinctly, carving a new path in my Twitter handle’s wake.

Next time I see a wave, I’ll drop in.

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