Friday, April 24, 2009

“Twitter Tested”

c. 2009 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

It was the end of a marathon session in the Icehouse home office.

My eyes ached from overuse. Scribbled notes lay everywhere, like confetti after a parade. Yet I felt happy to have completed several news briefs, an eclectic overview of traditional Appalachian cuisine, and a manuscript about Link Wray, the late minimalist guitar hero.

Now, I was posting on the Internet networking site called ‘Twitter.’

“Thank God for music,” I wrote. “Sound etched in a groove-track. And thanks also for Elvis… Our king dressed in black.”

Liz, my wife, entered while I was typing. She had been taking an exercise class at ‘Fit Femme.’ Her jumpsuit glowed in hues of pink and lavender.

“Rodney, what are you doing?” she squawked.

“That’s the question!” I blurted out with emotion.

Her thought processes were confused. “What question?”

I shrugged my shoulders with indifference. “THE question! What… are… you… doing?”

“That’s what I asked!” she yelped. “What are you doing!”

“Tweeting,” I replied.

She raised an eyebrow. “What… did you say??”

“Tweeting,” I said again. “Posting on the ‘Twitter’ website.”

Her expression went blank. “Are you trying to be funny?”

“Not at all,” I explained. “This is the cutting edge of social networking. Sort of like ‘My Space’ for those with ADHD.”

“Huh??” she exclaimed.

“Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder,” I said with exasperation.

Liz wasn’t amused. “I know what ADHD stands for!”

“Think of Facebook for those with an abbreviated attention span,” I said. “Twitter is a series of updates arranged in chronological order.”

My wife wrinkled her nose. “Right! So you are posting blog-bits just so other people can read your comments, and write their own? It sounds like a game.”

“Not a game,” I disagreed. “This is up-to-speed connectivity for the modern world.”

She frowned with displeasure. “What really made you join this site, Rodney?”

I sighed forcefully. “When Ezekiel Byler-Gregg linked his ‘Burton Daily Bugle’ to Twitter, that was it. There was no more cause for procrastination. I had to take the quantum leap.”

My spouse shook her head. “Zeke talked you into this? You joined because of a weatherbeaten old journalist from rural Geauga County? I can’t believe he’s even got a computer.”

“Liz, please!” I protested. “That’s unkind. Ezekiel is my friend.”

“Let me guess,” she yowled. “He’s got an old Commodore 64?”

“Stop talking like that!” I shouted.

“A Tandy TRS-80?” she continued.

“Please!” I begged with a chuckle. “Stop it!”

She snorted with the raspy tone of a rabid bunny. “Okay, I’m sorry. But really… you’re going to ‘tweet’ in cyberspace just so other computer geeks can echo your thoughts? That is… pathetic!”

I reddened with embarrassment. “People laughed at Alexander Graham Bell, too. And Steve Jobs. And Mark Zuckerberg…”

Liz burned with defiance. “My husband, the hi-fi tweeter! Sending electronic smoke signals to his pals on the information superhighway. Ohhhhhhh… give me a break!!”

I took a deep breath. “You’re too critical. Think about it for a moment. This is a modern crossroads where people of all kinds are meeting to consider the future. We’ve never had anything like this before. Our consciousness is expanding as a civilization. We need to embrace change, not refuse it. Tomorrow is… today!”

She growled like an irritated cat. “Rodneyyyy!”

“Listen and learn,” I said. Dramatically, I read a paragraph of text from the Internet site’s start page:

“Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co-workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?”

I clicked on my home page. “Now look at this. Watch, and learn!”

With skill, I created a new post that offered a link to the William Smith appreciation shrine. He was an actor best known for appearing in a number of ‘biker’ and ‘teen exploitation’ films in the 60’s and 70’s.

“Can you dig this?” I said with retro cool. “Smith was in nearly every American International Picture from that era… from custom chopper movies to low-buck horror creations. His legend has continued to grow since then!”

My wife was completely flabbergasted. “Who??”

I skipped to the next ‘tweet’ without delay. “The Maple Festival is coming soon. But can we be sure that this local tradition isn’t really a cover for clandestine operations by the Cleveland FBI? The ‘Tube Farm’ controversy continues… right here!”

Liz yowled angrily. “You can’t be serious!!”

My grin grew wide. “Okay… I’m not. But on Twitter it doesn’t really make a difference. Added to the comment is a link that explains everything, in tongue-in-cheek detail. It helps promote my weekly column. Lighten up, already!”

Her eyes narrowed. “Your messages can be read all over the world. Doesn’t that make you take ‘tweeting’ a bit more seriously?”

I laughed out loud, then returned to the keyboard. Words began to flow like stream-of-consciousness poetry. “The 2010 Honda Fury is faithfully chopperific. Are you ready for a stretched-out custom steed from the land of the rising sun?”

“You don’t even like those bikes, Mister Harley-Davidson fanatic!” she shrieked.

“It’s an advertising idea,” I said. “Something connected with a potential job opportunity. Twitter could be an avenue to reach younger consumers. Even President Obama is on the network.”

She hissed like a frightened kitten. “You’re giving me a headache!”

“Listen, you’ve got to stay up to speed,” I laughed. “This is the 21st Century. No one wants to move like their grandparents did. This is up-to-the-minute consciousness. We’ve got to stay active, every second of the day!”

Liz was boiling. “So that means sending bite-sized messages to your friends, on some foolish site with a little birdie?”

“Well, ummm… yes,” I answered.

Her gaze went cold. “But are you ‘tweeting’ or ‘twittering’ online? Aha! Which is it, Rodney?”

I gulped. “Uhmmmm… actually, it could be both. Or neither.”

She pounced on my lack of certainty. “Admit it! You don’t know!”

My face burned with embarrassment. “Okay, you’re right. But as I said, it doesn’t matter…”

Her voice grew stronger. “Of course it does! How can you play a game if you don’t even know the rules?”

I went blank. “Honey, you’re taking this too seriously.”

Liz folded her arms. “I think you are the one going gaga over this new cyberspace fad!”

Fatigue made me yawn. I relented at last by logging off of the site. “Okay… you’re right. This is silly. I’m wasting my time…”

She brightened immediately at my surrender. “Oh well. Would you like some coffee? I’ve got a fresh pot brewing in the kitchen.”

I nodded. “That would be great. Thank you.”

She blew me a kiss. “I’ll be right back!”

Once she had left the room, I quickly signed on to Twitter, again.

“Beware, fellow tweeters,” I wrote. “Not everyone is ready for the 21st Century! Especially in the Ice Household!”

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