West Side Stories

A Tosa resident for almost 20 years, Karen is a mom and freelance writer, addicted to playing tennis. When not on the tennis court, she spends the fall and winter in the stands at Green Bay Packer and Marquette basketball games.

Karen is the author of “Grab a Bite,” a dining out column and the former community columnist for the Wauwatosa NOW newspaper.

The Twicks and Twials of Twitter

The Online World

As I’ve mentioned recently, social networking is all the rage on the internet lately. In fact, one of the most talked-about (perhaps “tweeted” would be the better word) social networking sites is Twitter.  

After writing a post about Facebook and Twitter, I couldn’t resist. I’m well-invested in Facebook, but Twitter was an entirely new animal to me. And so, I jumped in, signed up and “tweeted.”


Many people seem to feel that Twitter is merely a running stream similar to the Facebook “status.” Just like Facebook, Twitter asks you, at all times: “What are you doing?” (Which always makes me think of the improv game with the same name played at ComedySportz.) And sure, it’s that…but it’s a little more. (It also doesn’t have to be in third-person, which is kind of nice.)


I think of Twitter as Facebook for people with short attention spans. This is probably why it’s become wildly popular. Nobody has time, but everyone wants to be connected with everyone at all times. In fact, a comedian created a “backronym” for Twitter – Typing What I’m Thinking to Everyone Reading. Although an oversimplification, this is the essence of Twitter.


You tweet (which is what it’s called when you say what you’re doing) and sometimes people tweet at you. Sometimes people retweet (re-posting of an interesting tweet) or ask for a retweet back.


If you’re especially prolific, you can tweet from your cell phone so you never miss an opportunity to share your brief (and brilliant) thoughts.


The goal on Twitter (and perhaps, in life) is to be “followed.” Sure anyone can read your tweets on Twitter, but the goal is to get people that have you as part of their regular “feed.” Because really, what’s the sense of saying something if nobody reads it? Wait, don’t answer that.


As with anything online, Twitter has been used rather successfully by many businesses as a part of their marketing plan. In a challenging economy, it’s an interesting way to get the word out. Corporate Identity Solutions, a local web development firm co-owned by Tosan Michelle D’Attilio, has seen a significant increase in traffic to their corporate site thanks to Twitter. In fact, they’re looking for Milwaukee businesses that share their enthusiasm for Twitter. Follow them on Twitter and you’ll find out more!


Because Twitter has been so successful, it’s been a hot topic in the media. There’s even a humorous (and growing) “Twitionary” that pokes fun at all things Twitter.


Me, I’m just a newbie (a Twewbie?) on Twitter. I’m simultaneously fascinated, amused and sometimes annoyed by Twitter. I follow more people than follow me (although I welcome any new followers!) Some of the more interesting (and surprising) people I follow are Ashton Kucher and Shaquille O’Neal who have literally hundreds of thousands of followers. (Shaq scolds you if you’re still up reading his 4:00 am tweets and tells you to go to bed.) Ashton tells you what he and Demi Moore are up to when he’s not sharing philosophical thoughts. Reading their daily tweets is pop culture at its best...or worst.


I find James Lileks, the author of “Gallery of Regrettable Food,” to be hilarious. And I follow some local Twitterers (Marquette, Summerfest and Tim Cuprisin) just to try and stay in touch with Milwaukee happenings.


Should you be on Twitter? I can’t answer that. I’ll be there for a while. It appeals to my odd sense of wanting to share my quirky views of the world with people other than my family. (My kids are probably glad not to hear it.) Sometimes a tweet can be better than a blogpost and sometimes it can direct people to a blogpost.


I’ll leave you with this: Twy it and you might like it. (Sorry. I couldn’t resist.)


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