Twitter is like…

Twitter analogy

I was out for coffee the other day with a non-tweeting friend. “So what’s Twitter actually like?” she asked.

I ummed and ahhed, and explained it all very badly, mumbling some fairly dry stuff about retweets and hashtags and follows. She didn’t look convinced. So I’ve been thinking about it ever since, and here’s what I’ve come up with.

Joining Twitter is like suddenly discovering an extra room in your house. You’re just walking from your kitchen to your living room one evening and you notice a door that you’ve never opened before. You decide to turn the handle and have a look.

You open the door, step into the room, and it’s as though you’ve just arrived at a really busy party. In one corner of the room are a group of people you’ve known for years. “Hurray!” they say. “Here’s DorkyMum! We’ve been wondering where you were.” You start to walk over to them, and notice they’ve already bought you a pint of your favourite beer. Brilliant. You love this room already.

But then something catches your eye. Look! It’s the woman who wrote that book you loved when you were a kid! Wow. You wonder what she’s doing here. You raise your hand, a bit shy and nervous, and to your relief she smiles and gives you a big cheery wave in response.

You’re about to wander over and speak to her, but as you turn, you get stopped in your tracks by another group of people. You don’t know any of their names, although a couple of them look vaguely familiar. “Hey!” one of them says. “We read on your blog that you’re a big fan of obscure Scottish folk music. Come over here and listen to this.

So over you go, and you stand in the corner for a few minutes, swaying away and tapping your foot to a brilliant track that you’ve not heard before. The group of people are all really friendly; you discover that you have some other interests in common too. One of them likes photography, and another has a son the same age as you. You feel pretty comfortable, and think you could probably just hang out in this corner of the room for a while.

But wait! There’s your MP! He’s a crabby old Tory bastard, and you’re not too sure what he’s doing at this party, but you really want to speak to him about a campaign you’re involved with so you tear yourself away from the music and chase him across the room for a chat.

Eventually the room starts to grow a little quieter, and you decide that you’ve had enough for one night; that you should probably get some sleep. So you wave goodbye to everyone and head off to bed, closing the door to the room carefully behind you.

The next morning when you wake up, you fully expect the room to be gone. But guess what? It’s still there. In fact, it’s there every morning from now on.

Some days, you get up and you’ve not had enough sleep, so you’re grumpy and bleary eyed. You poke your head into the room, scowling, and you snarl at the assembled company. A few of them snarl back, because they’ve had a bad night too. But then one person offers to make you a coffee, and someone else holds up a picture of a baby otter, which forces you to crack your face into a smile.

Some days you wake up, and you’ve already got too much noise in your head, and you’ve got lots of jobs to do, so you don’t go near the room at all. The door stays firmly shut.

Other days you get up, head for breakfast in your kitchen, turn on the radio, and catch the last bar of an old song you really like. Damn, what was that song called? You can’t even remember who sang it. So you poke your head into the extra room, and shout out “Hey! Does anyone know what that song was that was just playing on the radio?

Sure!” calls someone standing over on the left. “It was The Dorky Song, by the Dorkys.

Someone standing over on the right shouts out “I’ve always loved the Dorkys!

Then at the back of the room an old crackled voice pipes up, “Ahh, thank you for all the love guys. I was the drummer with the Dorkys!

Everyone in the room cheers.

Occasionally, you’ll be standing in the room chatting, and you’ll hear raised voices and then a scuffle will break out in a far corner. Someone has had one-too-many glasses of wine and said something offensive. “Idiot,” you can hear people muttering under their breaths, as the offender is hustled out of a side door until he calms down.

Sometimes you’re in there, and it’s as though everyone is high. There’s big news on the way, and the vibe is crazy. There’s a real buzz in the air. You’re really supposed to be somewhere else, but you can’t tear yourself away.

If you never find this room in your house – the extra room – it’s okay. You really like your house anyway. It’s comfy, and cosy, and full of lovely things. You don’t ever feel like you’re missing out on something, because you don’t know otherwise.

But if – when – you do find it, a whole new world of opportunities and possibilities and connections opens up. It’s crazy. But it’s kinda fun.

That’s what Twitter is like.

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261 responses

  1. I love this!! So so true. And I’d add- some days you wake up and want to die. You slouch in to the room full of regrets, dark thoughts and with tears streaming down your face. The depression truly grabbing you, but one by one the people in the room prise away it’s fingers by making you laugh, reminding you of what’s good and supporting and carrying you through the bad times. I love my twitter family.

    Bloody great post. X

  2. Awesome description! Everytime I go on twitter now I will think of opening the door to the party room, for a peek, to waste some time or a full blown evening’s entertainment :)

  3. That’s exactly what Twitter is!! I love it since I moved away from using it for celebrity gossip and found real people. I think I’ve been addicted properly for about a year!

  4. Utterly brilliant – I love it! I was about to share it on facebook with fb friends – but you know what – I don’t really want most of them on twitter so I’ll have to share on twitter instead!

  5. I love this blog! The other great thing about twitter is your family is not here. So you can actually have your opinion or a bit of fun without criticism or arguement!

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  8. Loved this explanation – and just like a party – it’s sometimes hard to leave -even when you know you’ve had enough – there’s still one more thing you need to check or say. Glad I’ve found your blog.

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  12. Oh I don’t know how you manage not to go near the room- is that when your battery dies on your mobile or there’s no 3g at your friend’s house?

    Great post.

  13. I have that dream! So often – it’s soooo disappointing when i wake up and there isn’t a ballroom through the cupboard under the stairs.

    Great post!

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  16. How brilliant! I tried to explain it to someone last night and it wasn’t nearly as clever or succinct as that :) Someone once joked that its easier to tell people you’ve joined a cult than to explain twitter, but i like this idea :)

  17. You are utterly brilliant – what a great explanation…might have to send this post to my husband who hasn’t a clue what blogging or Twitter are – and usually has to pour himself a drink at the mere mention of either, or turn on the TV, or look busy doing something else….

    I tried to explain both blogging and Twitter to him once; I gave up after about the second sentence when I saw THAT look in his eyes. This however, might just work! Thanks, Dorky.
    P.S. Found the post through Love All Blogs – another great site.

    • Are you really sure you want him on Twitter though?! Make sure you only have people at the party if you really want them there!

      Thanks for the lovely kind words, really appreciate it xx

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  31. Ha, very cool! I had to join Twitter as a part of a high school class. I hated it and never used it at first and now I’m on it more than Facebook. I don’t like Facebook very much….

  32. I’ve been asked this question several times. I usually don’t get passed the stuttering and uhmms and whatever other sounds come out of my mouth lol. Eventually I get out a “you just have to do it” which usually doesn’t move the person to drop everything that second to make a twitter account. Great account of what twitter is! I’ll just have to refer the next person who asks me this near impossible question (for myself) to your post!

  33. It’s also a fun place to go when there is a big event like the Oscars and you want to see everyone’s reactions to everything. Oh and also if you are a comedian you can practice your one liners.

  34. That… describes it really well. I’m trying to think of a better analogy…
    Nope… Nope… Nope…
    Yea—Noooope. False alarm.
    It’s confirmed: This is the best way to describe Twitter.

  35. Ha ha
    Great post.
    I’ll like to add something else too though.
    The best thing about Twitter is that it isn’t about photos and places like Facebook. It is more about sharing anything and everything.
    For me I found Twitter liberating. I could write anything.
    So using your analogy if I go to that unopened room in my home I could shout out anything to anyone.
    And guess what I don’t know anyone in my Twitter account.
    Wouldn’t mind following you for that matter

  36. And that’s why I dropped my Twitter account, trying to clear the clutter in my house. I can’t even say it was fun while it lasted… WordPress on the other hand, is much more meaningful and worthy of my time.

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  38. I love it when words can transport me to a place. I was right in that room with you, I was even with you on that day you were simply too busy to step inside, just knowing if you did you wouldn’t be able to get everything accomplished that needed to be done. What a great read! I’ve had my Twitter account for years but I’ve only peaked my head in on a couple occasions, I think i just may have to drop in and mingle awhile. Thank you. =)

  39. Well done! I’ve often felt that either my OCD was too powerful or just not strong enough to “hang” at Twitter. Now I know I’m not the only one! Cheers!

  40. I actually have never really used twitter, but your post made me think of other internet groups over the decades and made me smile. I really enjoyed reading!

  41. Oh wow. I’ve kind of found this room, but am still having trouble going into it, and find, as I’m a bit awkward at social situations. I’ll get there, or maybe not. A brilliant explanation.

  42. Nicely put. My personal view of twitter (and almost all social media) can be summed up in one word: cacophony. I left the party for peace and quiet a long time ago. Oh, well, to each their own. Again, very nice analogy here. Well done!

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  44. Brilliant! Having just joined twitter yesterday, my friend Ellen sent me a link to your post. Good to know it’s okay to close the door again :) marie

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