People who aren’t on Facebook are smug about it.
They’re impatient about being asked if they’re on the site, as though you had asked them what they thought of last night’s Toddlers and Tiaras marathon.
I’ve been guilty of this myself. I signed up years ago but don’t go there except on my birthday, when a bunch of people I don’t really know wish me well. (Do not mistake my tone. I love that.)
Last year I was talking to a woman I admire, a theatre teacher, and said with my rehearsed condescension that I wasn’t on Facebook or Twitter.
She urged me not to conflate them. And she was right.
Facebook is a party. People keep knocking on your door and asking if they can join in. For introverts like me, this is exhausting. I long ago turned out the lights. I lie there, pretending not to be home, secretly curious about who might knock next.
Twitter is more like a lecture series. You find people who say things that interest you and you Follow them. If they get boring or veer off topic, you quietly leave the room.
One big difference between Facebook and Twitter is that—well-publicized interface changes aside—those who despise the former likely have some idea of the site as it exists now. But I bet that a lot of people who despise Twitter likely do so based on what it used to be.
Twitter earned its bad reputation, that of the Too-Much-Information technology.
When I looked at it a few years ago, the home page said something like: “We believe that by sharing short bursts of information about ourselves we all become more connected.”
I am easily marketed to. “Huh,” I thought. “What interesting information. I did not know that.”
It made sense to me. I imagined getting a tweet from Todd—“At Starbucks on Washington about to go Venti!”—and smiling at the thought of him with a milk foam moustache, joshing around with the barista.
I’m not sure what part of human psychology Twitter and I were both overlooking, but it was huge.
As it turns out, knowing that, for example, my friend is doing laundry doesn’t make me feel closer to my friend. It makes me resent her for thinking I might find that interesting.
But Twitter was technology in search of meaning, and over time it found its purpose.
In Los Angeles, the insanely popular Kogi BBQ Taco truck started to tweet its location. Foodies all over the city took note.
Famously, at the 2007 South by Southwest Interactive conference, attendees were invited to share bits of the sessions they were attending.
Twitter has become the opposite of what it designed for: it streams useful information. That can be invaluable as a playwright or a theatre teacher.
Finding people to Follow on Twitter is a Goldilocks process. You’re looking for people who match both your interests and, crucially, your information tolerance. Some people tweet all day long, some once a day or so, some far less than that.
Playwrights follow other playwrights, a process made easier by the spiffy I Follow Playwrights feed (@IFollowPWs.) You follow them and they reciprocate. (Voila! Your first Follower.)
I’m partial to Mark Krause (@markbkrause) whose lovely “10,000p” is the only comic I know of about playwrights.
Dramaturgs Protocol (@dramaturgs) serves up a steady diet of theatre history all day long.
PlaySubmissionHelper (@submissionhelp) describes its purpose as “Helping Playwrights Find Success by Providing Submission Opportunities.”
I tweet about playwriting (@playwrightnow). For me that’s a useful activity because it makes me think about writing plays.
Theatre teachers will want to follow EdTA Advocacy (@edtaadvocacy) to keep up with the landscape of educational theatre and what EdTA is doing to help shape it.
The terrific Kristen Engebretsen (@harvardancer) mostly points her Followers to articles and commentary about arts in education.
There are still people stuck in Twitter 1.0. You come across them as you browse for people to Follow: “Still in line at the DMV!”
But if you work in educational theatre—as a teacher or a student—and you haven’t looked at Twitter in a couple of years, consider signing up.
The worst thing that happens is that you learn about someone’s juice cleanse. (Unfollow! Unfollow!)