Hansie Smit
Hansie Smit

Lurking and loving it

I’m pretty sure Dan Brown lost that symbol of his on Twitter. I know this because, unlike active twitterers, I lurk in the shadows and read what they tweet. And sometimes they tweet things like, “RT @spytap: @wildurst @antichrista Yay! #shoutout #it’sbeenawhile #justsaying”. This now passes for a sentence on Twitter — a series of symbols like they’re writing on a wall in a pyramid.

I was just getting jiggy with @ when # started popping up throwing a new spanner in the works. As far as I can gather # is used to let people know what you are tweeting about. Clearly 140 characters is not enough to express oneself and stay relevant when 20 plus topics are doing the rounds. What @ is doing there is a mystery. I googled “why @ on Twitter?” and got directed to Wikipedia that told me Twitter is a website and another site explaining why Charlie Sheen is WINNING on Twitter. Charlie Sheen is winning everywhere so that’s not news. Why Biz Stone and Jack Dorsey so desperately need @ in front of names on their website is apparently a state secret.

Incidentally neither @ nor # work on my keyboard. I have to hit shift “ to get @ and go insert, symbol to drop a #. It’s very confusing and makes tweeting a physically challenging experience which is why I don’t tweet any more. That and I’m prone to oversharing. Oversharing is a mental health hazard on Twitter since it’s so easy to do and so hard to forget. I once tweeted, “Heavy ball ache this morning”. Now, although I did have some discomfort in the nether regions that morning it most certainly wasn’t necessary to share it with a group of people just sitting down to enjoy a warm croissant and some tea. So now I lurk and I think the @world is better off for it.

Lurking gets you just as much from Twitter as being an active tweet junkie does. I follow some interesting people and from what they tweet and retweet and reference I get a healthy dose of news, a smattering opinion and the occasional really funny joke/observation. It is a little silly when they get it wrong and tweet about their pets or say goodnight but like any one-way relationship you have to take the good with the bad. Consistently interesting people are nigh on impossible to find in real life — why would Twitter be any different?

I won’t mind seeing some more serial killers and truly deranged people on there. You don’t see that many tweets from maximum security and that’s a shame. I reckon what they need to do is round up some articulate mass murderers and mad people, get them signed up and let them tweet directly from prison or the asylum. That will really light up a timeline.

You’ll know you’re following a convicted monster or clinically certified individual because instead of the blue circle they use for celebrities, @charlesmanson or @lost_it will be verified with a black or red one. Black for convicted, red for certified. These consistently interesting people can then walk around in chains carrying Blackberries and keep us up to date with the goings on in prison and the mad house.

When that day comes, and I’m sure it will, I’ll be there when @lost_it tweets, “Having trouble holding a spoon after shock therapy”. I’ll maybe even emerge from the shadows and reply, “@lost_it Thanks old chap, you made my day”.

Now that’s something worth lurking for.