It started so innocently, really. I first logged on a year or so ago when Delta Air Lines -- or someone who felt he or she could adequately represent it -- had what appears to have been a brief flirtation with Twitter, sending out missives about things like a change to the carry-on policy so that people could bring their guitars on board.
After that, I didn't pay much attention to it, for months -- among other things, I don't play guitar, though I kind of wish I did. I'd occasionally see people describe Twitter as a "micro-blogging" service, but that description never quite fit for me, and maybe, since I have a macro-blog at Adverganza.com, the description put me off. I didn't see a need to micro-blog as well.
But once I became the Social Media Insider, things changed. Suddenly, people began following me, and I began to feel I should be worthy of following. I'm still not, really, but once I realized I should start posting a few random thoughts, the habit got started. It was only in the mornings at first, when I might muse about the powers of coffee and WFUV. But then, along with coffee, and WFUV, Twitter became a need at regular intervals during the day, not because of my tweets (for the uninitiated, that's the cutesy Twitter names for Twitter entries). I actually think the word banal was created to describe my tweets, but I had to be there to see what everyone else in my little Twitter world is saying.
Here's a quick rundown of what was discussed just this afternoon: Corey Haim, the closing of 600 Starbucks stores, gun control (or the lack thereof), the Chickasaw Mud Puppies, and the merits, or demerits of word-of-mouth marketers trying to identify a cost-per-conversation. Twitter has become my virtual watercooler; a place to hang out when I really should be doing other things, like, for instance, writing meaningful social media columns. (Though it has given me the occasional idea for a column or blog post.)
I often wonder how much my experience with Twitter applies to people who don't spend most of their working hours in a home office. They, after all, have real watercoolers around which to discuss the fluctuating substance and inanity of their days. And yet, when I look around at most of the people on Twitter that I follow (if you're not familiar, they are the people whose tweets I subscribe to), I find that they actually work in offices. Clearly, we're all getting some psychic reward out of throwing thoughts out into the ether that previous communications channels haven't provided.
I've become more aware of my dependence on Twitter in recent weeks because, as it's become more popular, it's become more prone to outages. Steve Rubel, on his Micro Persuasion blog, described Twitter on Monday as, "like a summer rental that you hope doesn't get hit by a hurricane." I know what he means, although the hurricane metaphor doesn't describe the withdrawal I feel when I get that message that the service is at overcapacity, or, even worse, I can't connect at all. At those times, it feels like a power outage -- as though a crucial connection to the world has been lost, and that even though I could do something healthy, like take a walk or do some yoga or do some actual work, things aren't quite right until the service comes back.
I suppose some of you would like to see me segue from here into a discussion of what Twitter's business model might be, but I haven't a clue. All I know is that I'm addicted to Twitter, and if the past is any guide, wherever there's addiction, there's money to be had.