Tweeting Your Life Away

Have you considered tweeting while reading? Or even while writing your book?

Probably not. But as some theaters encourage audiences to tweet during a performance, how long before those of us who can’t be apart from an electronic device for a nanosecond decide to tweet while reading the latest thriller?

Of course, if you’re tweeting while reading, you’re not really reading. Reading takes concentration. And what about when you’re watching something? Just as bad. Being there for a performance isn’t passive: you’re part of it.

Besides, social engagement doesn’t mean you’re “on” all the time. Because if you’re thinking about what to tweet are you really absorbing what’s before you? The best use of social media, in building your platform, is to have a conversation with your audience. Not to annoy it with your random and not-all-that-humorous thoughts on something you’re supposed to be present for. If you’re tweeting while sitting at a concert, or a movie or a play, you’re not paying attention. And who wants to pay attention to someone who doesn’t pay attention to the work of others, or to other people trying to watch or listen to something?

Theaters that encourage tweeting are under the illusion that this will help them build credibility with those hyper-cool people who are digitally connected. Wrong. It merely encourages rudeness, and there’s enough of that in the world. And enough distracted maniacs who walk down the streets reading or writing tests (and let’s not go into the drivers). Who hasn’t been peeved by some joker who checks a text or email in a darkened theater? Everything can wait. And if it’s so very, very important – leave.

As for being an active live-tweeter: You know what constant tweeting means? Desperation. People are so desperate to connect that they tap away, blind to the world around them, in the hope that someone will respond to them. Rather than be present for the people who are physically there.

So, if you’re a writer who’s eager to build an audience, do it by writing well, engaging truly and paying attention to what people are telling you.

Don’t labor under the idea that because you feel that everyone among your “followers” needs to know your every thought that you actually need to share what your spot judgment is about the concert you’re physically, if not mentally, present for. Because you want to build your message, and not annoy your audience with nonsense. They’ll respect you for it.

Bob Hughes
Author: Bob Hughes
Robert J. Hughes ("Bob") was a staff reporter for The Wall Street Journal for over a decade, specializing in culture reporting. He was the paper's theater reporter, wrote on publishing, the art and auction markets, television, music, film and philanthropy, and reviewed books.
  • Anonymous

    Very good tips, Bob. Better to focus on quality than just making some noise in the Twittersphere.

  • Cinde Dobson Johnson

    I don’t think you can underestimate the damage “over-tweeting” can do to one’s ability to truly engage with their audience. It is important to communicate, but you can do so without annoying them. Great article!

  • http://twitter.com/AndreaReindl Andrea Reindl

    Ah, Bob, thanks for the perspective, it’s interesting how many people don’t think of the ‘manners’ of social media :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=828032066 Michael Drew

    Persuasive writing connects, writing for the sake of writing i.e. tweeting what your doing is spam…