Let me tell you something funny about my dad: He laughs at me because I can type.
Seriously. Being able to touch-type, in his world, is akin to knowing how to operate a forklift or crank a leaf blower – skills for another class of person. Back in his day, only secretaries bothered with typing. If my dad needed to say something in print, he just rattled it off to a waiting secretary or spoke into a recorder.
He’s a young guy, my father, a relatively early baby boomer. He’s in touch with the Internet and has a cellular phone, but he maintains that typing is not a skill he would ever need.
Of course, in my line of work typing is like playing a musical instrument. Essential, beautiful a little bit, if it’s done right. Frankly, I couldn’t think in longhand if my life depended on it. It pains me to see people hunting and pecking their way through a letter or an e-mail. Literal pain. I have to look away.
Is it more efficient for me to communicate this way, pounding out ideas in print rather than, say, by doing public speaking or networking? Or less?
Doesn’t matter. It’s how I think now. Draft after draft.
I punch out a tweet here and there. An idea is born. Maybe it lives in an isolated little spot, unloved. (A new study out, much commented upon, notes that nearly half of the millions of Americans on Twitter don’t read the site. They just tweet and move on.)
Once it exists, though, that bit of thought lodges in my own head for a while. There, I said it. What did I mean? I think some more. Then I write. Some of that ends up here.
In my view, Twitter has become the digital confessional box, a place to unload the things buzzing around in your brain. The logic of confessing your sins is to unburden yourself, and that is absolutely what happens. It’s a kind of freedom.
Yes, there’s a ton of marketing folks out there trying to convince everyone (and themselves) that Twitter is a conversation. If so, it’s one of those rambling conversations with nobody you see overworked people having on subways, mumbling, checking pockets, lips moving but no sound.
I make it sound crazy, but it’s actually pretty healthy, in my view. Not every stray thought needs a validation, or even a response. The trick is to look back at your own flow and take advantage of it as best you can.
If you have a follower or two who benefits as well, great.
If you are among the tiny slice of Americans who read Twitter – minus the celebrity-followers – super.
But keep on tweeting, I say. It’s a good way to communicate, even if it’s only to yourself.
Greg Brown owns Interactive Content Partners,
a provider of custom publishing services and private label content. In a
previous life, he wrote stuff about people and things for money. Not
much has changed.