Sunday, January 15, 2012

10,000 Maniacs: These are the Twitter days

January 15, 2012 - 12:30am

So as it turns out, we hit this big Twitter milestone at 30,00o feet.

Which is kind of fitting as I’ve spent every imaginable holiday, birthday, anniversary, award show, election night and Family Guy marathon day six miles in the air.  In fact, the only thing I remember being on the ground for was the Millennium twelve years ago.

And that’s only because they thought all the planes were going to crash.  Y2K…those were the days.

But this is about 10K, not Y2K, as in the landmark 10,000 follower threshold they tell me is some kind Ron Burgandy big deal in Twitter world.

Here’s the thing.  It’s really not.  And before I get to why it’s not, and what is kind of a big deal, can I just say what no one else seems to?  That “follower” is kind of creepy.  A kind of creepy, ill-fitting term.  What am I, the King of Siam or something? 

Who came up with this?  What about subscriber?  What about member?  And what about what it really is…customer. 

I mean, if people that read our tweets are followers, that would make those who tweet leaders. And based on what I’ve seen around this neighborhood?  Yeah, not so much. If Twitter follower-ship was the measure of leadership, President Obama’s cabinet meetings would have would have Katie Perry and Shakira arguing about middle class tax cuts and Ashton Kutcher taking digital pictures of it with his Nikon.

Listen, I was pulled reluctantly into this world, as most men of certain age are when the impetuousness of youth is replaced with a lethal combination of skepticism, fear of the unknown and the stubborn refusal to accept that the way you’ve always done things, is not going to be the way you can do them in the future.

Evolve, or die.

Why my reticence?  Well, I figured 140 characters for me was like watching Kwame Brown try to squeeze into those short-shorts for the Lakers a few years ago.  An uncomfortably tight squeeze, and not very pretty to look at.

I mean, we’re 350 words in here and I haven’t even approached the point.  Haven’t even sidled up near it. 

I’m a broadcaster.  So anyone who uses one word when they could just as easily use ten just isn’t trying hard enough.

But let’s arrive at the point; I really am humbled by there being 10,000 of you.  For a variety of reasons. 

The strangest one being this, I know some of you, maybe a majority of you, have never actually seen or heard me do what it is, I really do.

See, I’m a play-by-play guy.  That’s what I do.  It’s what I’ve always done.  I can’t sing or dance, I can’t heal, I can’t litigate, I can’t pilot.  I call games.

But in that role as the voice of the Boston Celtics, and various in sundry free-lance assignments, no one has ever promoted me as being on Twitter.  You’ve never seen my name at the bottom of any screen with the little blue bird.  My handle, is that what we’ve decided to call it?  My handle doesn’t appear on the Celtics website, on our TV partner Comcast Sportsnet, now a proud part of the NBC Sports family.  I’m rarely on TV these days, I don’t host Sportscenter, or a daily talk show.

I have become, quite accidentally, a Louis Winthorp-ian sociological experiment in this purely democratic medium of Twitter.

If you’re there, it’s strictly on word-of-mouth, or word-of-tweet I guess, as it were.  You might be into the Celtics, the NBA, WWE, college hockey or just like a good LeBron, Tebow or Brett Favre joke once in a while.  You’re probably a fan of Bill Simmons, or Jim Ross, Michele Beadle, Mick Foley, Robert Flores, Joey Styles, Adrian Wojnarowski, Dave Lagana or any of my high-profile friends who type softly but carry a big twitter stick.

But you found me, the same way you’ve found all the other cool stuff out here that you enjoy and you make the decision to say, in a way that makes us deeply proud; “This person does not irritate me to a level that I can’t even stand to have their random thoughts delivered to my handheld personal device for free.”

It is quite the ego stroke.

But like a Clint Eastwood-grumpy-old-man character that eventually has to admit that the new thing he was afraid of is actually a welcome change and some kind of full-circle, third-act object lesson, I have to say, this is pretty cool.

All the other elements of being on the air, or being a “star” (and I’m talking about Gaga and Beiber here, not me.  Well, probably Beadle, too), have always been about creating an imaginary divide between celebrity and us “regular people”.  But the unintentionally subversive byproduct of Twitter, is that we’re all the same.  We look the same, we have the same character limit and the single best part…


I’m on the Celtics plane right now, if I wanted to ask Paul Pierce a question about, well, anything, I can get up, walk five feet and ask him.  But now, you can too.  And chances are he’ll see it, and maybe even answer.

Look, I’m not nor am I likely to ever be, if I may crib from my former work colleague Antoine Walker, a high-volume-tweeter. But I will do my best to answer ever tweet as quickly as I can.  It’s the least I can do.  Why?

Because what I’m saying, in something more than 140 characters, is that as far as I’m concerned, I…follow you.  And if I can inform, amuse, answer a question or tweet a picture of Max eating a snow cone during the second quarter, I’ll do my best.

And continue to strive to be the Egg McMuffin of Twitter.

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