Washington Week

Friday Nights on PBS

Entering the "Twitterverse"

You see, that headline is what I’ve always hated about Twitter.  

It’s way too cute.

But, alas, I have been lured in.

My first week on Twitter has been enlightening, funny and a little creepy.

You have to understand first that I have long been a firm anti-Twitterer. Life and news is complicated enough to explain without limiting yourself to 140 characters. Plus, I generally have less than zero interest in the eating, dieting and work day habits of people I have never met.

Yet, and still…

I was persuaded to join Twitter, not by the online folks at @washingtonweek and @NewsHour -- who have politely been pleading with me to spread myself a little more thinly by joining the tweet brigade – but by smart people who use the service to expand, not shrink their understanding of news and public affairs.

So when Amy Walter @HotlineEditor, and David Chalian @davidchalian – two savvy political observers – told me how they use it – to aggregate and keep up with news from sources they trust – I thought I’d give it a try.

Within hours of signing up last week, I had hundreds of followers – most of them strangers who sent me cheery “Welcome to Twitter” messages. The sudden rush of goodwill threw me off a bit, so I responded cautiously, letting everyone know in a single tweet that I just planned to stick my toe in.

The very next morning, a well-dressed young man approached me at a local coffee shop to tell me I should not be so shy. But then he went on to share with me the dangers of Twitter – over-sharing being the most noxious among them.

One pal I decided to “follow” immediately began flooding me with his random thoughts, retweets about issues I don’t care about, and even pictures of the golf course where he happened to be playing at that moment. I promptly “unfollowed” him.

Another, a smart political reporter, opts for the stream-of-conscious observational mode. But I have my own stream of consciousness to keep up with. I can’t possibly accommodate his as well.

I am assured by people who are addicted to this that, with a few judicious tweaks and snips, I can train my Twitter feed to work for me. I know a lot of smart people (yes, I’m talking to you @ktumulty and @johndickerson), so generally I can learn a lot.

But Twitter is a dangerous place if you have an obsessive streak. Click, refresh. It’s addictive. Good thing I have two jobs. It keeps me from getting in too deep. (But notice how short my sentences have gotten?)

You can follow me @pbsgwen.