The Five Stages of Twitter Metamorphosis

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As a relatively new Twitterer, and as an observer of new Twitterers learning the ropes, it has become clear to me that there is a definite Twitter Metamorphosis. While some people seem to be hopelessly stuck at the caterpillar stage (indeed, this seems to be terminal for some Twitterers), I offer this analysis of the Five Stages of Twitter Metamorphosis to encourage newbies to persevere:

Huh, What? is the first stage. You have just signed up, and about all you can think to do is enter some pathetic update like: “I just joined Twitter.” That’s okay. You have no idea what you are doing. You stare at your own profile page with its lone statement, or you look at the entries of a general conversation, and you are not sure what to do. Who are these people? Why are they writing and who is bothering to read what they write?  Big deal.

Yeah, Whatever is the second stage. Now, you have actually started to follow some people, and maybe a few people have followed you. You respond now and then, and maybe some people respond to you. But so what? You still don’t know why anybody is bothering. Twitter seems like a bunch of people making disjointed statements to no one in particular, and you begin to suspect a lot of Twitterers are friendless hermits sitting in front of their computers stuck in their own little Twitter worlds. That, or Twitter fanatics with 20,000 followers who are Web 2.0 geeks.  And at least one quarter of your followers are people who clicked on your name so that they could sell you on some online MLM business that you have absolutely no interest in. You join in conversations now and then, but you still don’t quite see what all the fuss is about.

Hey, This is Kind of Fun is the third stage. You have had a few useful exchanges, and maybe connected to a few funny, interesting, or useful people, links, or websites. You got into a really great conversation about one of the trending topics. You are starting to make some friends; you get a feel for the sort of people some of your connections are. You become interested in who else is out there, and start to do a little searching for people to follow. You think it’s cool that someone starts to follow you: it is an affirmation of the value of your tweets. You have figured out how to express yourself in 140 characters or less. You form opinions about who is worth following, and who is not, and you begin to see who is on the top of the Twitter heap, and why. You keep Twitter open on your desktop, and join in whenever something catches your eye. When something interesting happens during the day, you go to your computer and tweet it.

Help! I’m Twiddicted! is the fourth stage. As you begin to enjoy Twitter, you slowly spend more and more of your day tweeting. Without realizing it, your twittering has blossomed into a full-blown addiction. Through the magic of re-tweeted links, you have now found out about Mr. Tweet, TwitterGrader, Twitsnip, Twitpic, twitterfeed, tweetscan, twitteriffic, twellow, twubble, grouptweet, tweetstats, tweetlater, twittervision, tweetburner, twitbin, qwitter, twitter-karma, twitscoop, tweetbeep, and more. You must conquer them all. The Twitter home page is passé, so you use Tweetdeck, Twitterfox, Tweetgrid, or twitterfon, or all of them. You dread the thought of missing a good picture, video, or link. When you tweet good night, you don’t actually go to bed, but still add about ten more updates before you are completely exhausted and need to go. You eat with Twitter. You feel validated when your twitter grade goes up by a tenth of a point. You create custom backgrounds, change your avatar every day, and customize all your colors. You avidly search for the coolest tweeters, follow them, and feel like you’ve scored a major coup if they follow you back, even if they follow 8,000 other people. Rather than simply tweeting the things you happen upon, you actively try to find the funniest and cleverest links to tweet so that everyone will @you, and you answer everyone who DMs you. You look down with pity on newbie twitterers who thank their new followers by @name because they are committing a hopeless faux pas of Twitter etiquette. You have become so proficient at using text acronyms that you can convey the entire contents of a three page document in exactly 140 characters. You don’t want to talk on the phone to your friends; if they have anything worth telling you, they should tweet it, FCOL. You measure your worth by the number of followers you have and the number of @replies that say ROFLMAO.

Now I Get It is the fifth and, thankfully, final stage. I think. You see Twitter as a useful and enjoyable personal, professional, and social tool. Twitter is like being at an enormous cocktail party with hundreds of casual friends and acquaintances, only you don’t feel any social awkwardness and don’t care how you’re dressed or what your hair looks like. It is okay to be a wallflower and just read a conversation.Or you might decide to engage in a more intimate conversation with one or two people. Or maybe you want to join a large discussion. You come and go as you please, and you do not feel compelled to have something amazingly clever to say. You know when to talk and when to read. You can spend an entire day or more without tweeting, and you’re okay with it. You notice when it is a nice day outside, and actually go out and enjoy it. You know the Twitter party is always there when you want to attend.

Twitter is now your friend. Welcome to Twitter!

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