There are two phenomena that I confess to not “getting” these days: Twitter and Meghan McCain. Both of them seem to be fun and diverting, but neither seem to serve much purpose outside of entertainment. Both converged in an odd story which made me wonder exactly what Ms. McCain thinks that Twitter does:
“Karl Rove follows me on Twitter. That’s creepy,” she said. “I joined Twitter a few months ago; so far, it has been a liberating way to transition from political to personal blogging. It’s allowed me to share the less serious aspects and humorously uncensored moments of my life. But there’s also been a downside: I am now being followed by Karl Rove, and my local sheriff, and God knows how many other political pundits. We need to take Twitter back from the creepy people.”
Joe Gandelman gushes that Meghan has “taken on” Karl Rove, and I suppose she has … in the most content-free way possible. In her post, she never describes any “creepy” behavior on the part of Rove. In fact, the only thing she has to say about Rove specifically is this:
On the surface, Karl Rove’s Twitter feed intrigues me. Here’s a guy who for years has been perceived as some kind of inaccessible man-behind-the-curtain figure. And now he Tweets numerous times a day. I’ve never met him in person, which only makes our Twitter relationship even weirder. And to be honest, I find Rove’s Tweets boring. Sometimes he takes questions; other times he talks about his appearances on cable news and other shows. But he doesn’t say anything substantive.
So Megan started out following Rove’s tweets, found them boring, and apparently stopped following them. That’s certainly no big deal; I did the same with Meghan’s tweets, which may be fascinating to some but are almost entirely content-free updates on her personal likes and dislikes. Which is fine, of course — that’s pretty much what you get with a 140-character limit. But I’d say, after following Meghan McCain myself for a while, that having her complain about substance-free Twitter feeds is somewhat akin to having Paris Hilton complain about the incredible lightness of being Nicole Ritchie.
Besides, isn’t the point of posting Twitter updates to attract a following? She created the Twitter feed to get people to read her updates. Unless I’ve missed some key feature at Twitter, there isn’t exactly a screening process for followers to hurdle to add a feed to their list, so I don’t think that there’s anything “creepy” about one user following another. Not to overdo the analogies, but that’s like belting out a show tune at a karaoke joint and then complaining about all the attention you got.
What Ms. McCain really did was take a cheap shot at someone who doesn’t enjoy a great deal of popularity, and the only reason some people cheered it was because they don’t like him, either. It’s mean-spirited and highly calculated to make herself one of the Kool Kidz.
I don’t consider any of the followers on my account (prosaically named EdMorrissey) to be creepy. In fact, I think they’re all brilliant, good-looking, and terribly witty. But if I was inclined to consider Twitter followers “creepy”, perhaps I’d just rethink whether I want to Twitter at all. Given the rate at which I update my feed, most of my followers probably already think I have.
Addendum: I’ve finally begun using TweetDeck, which I really like for its ability to organize different messages and search threads. On my new T-Mobile Dash, I’m using Twikini, which works very well for the relative newbie that I am.