Monday, September 16, 2013

Terrorized by Twitter: A True Story

Someone I know, let's call him Al, is not a comfortable consumer of social media. Al is on record as disliking social media so much that he once used a naughty verb in an Ivy League graduate school classroom to suggest what his students should do to social media. 

Heck, in many ways, Al is not really an entirely comfortable citizen of the 21st Century.

Though Al is a prominent individual, communicates via email, owns an iPhone and surfs the Web with the rest of 'em, Facebook makes him frantic, Twitter terrifies him and don't even mention any of the other, newfangled products of our cyber age.

The other day, Al was fiddling with his iPhone whilst bored and accidentally sent out an invitation to his entire contact list (hundreds, maybe thousands...all over the world, including other very prominent individuals) to follow him on Twitter.

The problem was: though he had a Twitter account, he had never sent a tweet in his life. An intern once set it up for him so he could follow other people's postings. Which he did about once every four and a half months.

Further, the problem was: Al was now suddenly flooded by responses from the hundreds if not thousands of those he had invited to follow him in Twitter. Some were delighted to find him Tweeting. Others demurred, sending a polite negatory RSVP. Still others used this occasion to catch up with him.

The even further problem was: Al had no idea how to stem the tide of well-wishers, enthusiasts, regretfuls and others who were suddenly expecting him to expound in 140 characters or less about current events, promote himself, post photos of his Pomeranians, twerk or otherwise.

And the even, even further problem was that Al soon learned that those he invited were being pecked to death by the Twitter bird who would evidently not rest until they either accepted or denied his request to have them follow him.

Al was haunted, hunted and helpless to stop the madness. The emails kept pouring in. Al answered those he could. This Twitter nightmare afflicted Al for two weeks at which point he turned to a social media savvy gal for help.

Five minutes later, his account was deactivated.

First, he had to jump through about 4 million hoops to assure the cybergods that he really, truly, honestly did wish to depart the Twittersphere.

Al really, truly, honestly did. He pressed the really, truly, honestly final deactivation key.

And now, Al is once again a free bird.