In my exploration of the phenomenon that is Twitter, I came across the phrase, “twitter party.” And I went to one—I think.
Note: This song has been rolling around in my head as I write this post. With any luck, you will listen and it will move from my brain into yours.
Since I stumbled onto my twitter party in a roundabout about way, I must first tell a roundabout story to help you understand the serendipity that led me to said party. It’s my blog and I’ll digress if I want to.
Super Husband is an ESPN fanatic. If ESPN covers it, he will watch it. In our house, it’s common to hear phrases like, “I’ll worry about the State of the Union address after monster dune buggy mud racing is over,” and “Honey, look! The high school lacrosse championship of the world!” Because he loves ESPN so much, and because I am in love with him, I watch ESPN with him sometimes. During our morning coffee we either watch the weather (another of SH’s passions) or Sports Center. When I started writing about Twitter, I noticed that sometimes the SportsCenter commentators would read tweets from athletes. Sometimes they would scroll tweets on that ticker tape thing that goes across the bottom of the screen. Sometimes they would put a teaser on the screen to the left hand side that lets you know the Sports Center agenda. It would say something like, “LaBron weighs in on deflate gate.”
When race car driver Tony Stewart was involved in that accident in which a young driver was killed, SportsCenter used tweets from Stewart’s camp and the young driver’s camp as journalism. They brought the tweets up every few minutes, and again with the scrolling. So because of the amount of time we spend watching SportsCenter, and because of the way their newscasters incorporate tweets into sports news, I suppose I unconsciously associated tweeting with sports.
When the Superbowl rolled around, Super Husband wanted me to a) make him some spicy chicken wings, and b) watch the game with him. Now, (a) was no problem. I took a bag of frozen chicken wings and dumped them onto a cookie sheet, and twenty minutes later out came perfectly cooked chicken wings. But (b), I tried to wriggle out of. It’s not that I hate football, because to say I hate it means that I could also have the capacity to love it. I can’t drum up that much emotion for the sport of football. However, I eventually put on my happy face and said, “Yes! I’ll watch football with you.” I figured if my foremothers could close their eyes and think of England enough times to beget my entire ancestral line, I could grin and bear it for two hours. Besides, halftime. Besides, commercials.
Right before the game started, the scroll came on the bottom of the screen with someone’s tweet. I decided to open my twitter account and see what was happening. Next thing I know I’m at the twitter party.
Note: Maybe someone has formal twitter parties, I don’t know. But I’m calling this a party because there were lots of people there, we were all there for the same purpose, and because it’s my blog, and I’ll call it a party if I want to.
I opened up the #superbowlXLIX hashtag, and I was instantly with approximately 1 million other people (this number is my estimation, based on absolutely no data). I watched my monitor as hundreds of tweets flowed across my screen each time the minutest thing happened. They’d say, “Can you believe that pass?” and before I could renew my screen, 50 others would have responded to the tweet.
Like so much of what I’ve discovered about social media in the last six months, this was a revelation to me. All of these people were speaking to one another about a shared topic, in these short bursts, and anyone who wanted to chime in could do so, provided they had a computer and a twitter account. In one capsule of time, Valerie Bertinelli, Steven Tyler, and a guy named Mike B. who runs a machine shop in Minneapolis, might comment about the same play. It felt sort of egalitarian, like all were welcome at this twitter party. I know I felt welcome.
Because of the speed with which the tweets came through, it would have been almost impossible to monitor what sort of speech was being used in regard to the topic of Super Bowl forty-nine. However, I didn’t see any tweets that were offensive or directed at anyone personally. I know that tweeters can get pretty nasty at times. Someone I follow has done so in the past, though not toward me directly, so I know it happens, but it didn’t during the SuperBowl.
Another thing that surprised me was the beauty of the quip. Out of my estimated million people at the twitter party, approximately half were extraordinarily witty, and had funny stuff posted before I could put my fingers on the keyboard. When the Nationwide commercial came on, I decided I had to weigh in. I typed something that I thought was funny, but a hundred people beat me to the punch, and they said some of the funniest things. One of them said something like, “The new nationwide jingle: Nationwide, ‘cause your kid died.” Watch the commercial if you don’t understand.
I know there are many reasons to be wary of social media, but I’m also seeing many reasons to embrace this new way of relating to the world. I enjoyed my first twitter party, because I didn’t have to wait to be invited, and because my fellow tweeters validated my underlying optimism about Americans still having some smarts. Oh yeah, and I watched the football game through my fingers instead of with my eyes, so I didn’t have to sit through all the boring stuff, aka, all the stuff where they play football.
What about you? What are some of your experiences with Twitter? Ever been to a twitter party?