Throughout my life I’ve found it incredibly easy to resist. A suggestion to do something fun, an invitation to attend a social event, a constructive criticism to help improve shoddy work, an idea for a creative venture. When someone makes any of these types of pitches to me in any number of situations, more times than not my natural instinct is to resist, to express disinterest, to get upset, to completely pass. You could say I’m like Jim Carrey’s “No Man” in Yes Man. Sad, I know.
Now, has saying no in general prevented me from making bad decisions I’d otherwise immediately regret? Of course it has. But hasn’t it also prevented me from enjoying new experiences in new environments with new people I might’ve liked and befriended resulting in new, fresh perspectives on various things? Without a doubt.
This is one of the reasons why I love the Internet. For someone who is not naturally outgoing and forceful (for the most part) the freedom to explore the world without having to leave my home opened me up in ways not previously possible. Now did I do stupid things I would’ve never tried out in the real world? Yes (minus any significant consequences, it must be said). But the information superhighway also afforded me creative and personal opportunities well out of my reach when I didn’t possess this wonderful piece of technology.
That being said, I can still be a stubborn ass. For two years, I ignored two open invitations to join Facebook, one from an old college friend I had reconnected with after a lost decade on separate paths and a family member. What changed my mind about joining the controversial social network? A lousy online break-up. It took a while to get over but I finally moved on, with thanks, in part, to Facebook.
The first time I learned about the now-defunct Writer’s Digest Community was in 2009 through one of WD’s regular email newsletters. After bookmarking the address, what convinced me to eventually join that particular social network two years later? I needed the hits. My website had been on WordPress for six months and was in desperate need of a boost. Thankfully, it got one.
Which brings me to Twitter. For many, many years, I’ve resisted the lure of the tweet, the temptation to imitate Larry King 140 characters at a time. (“I think Teri Garr’s a big talent.” “Why is apple sauce so yummy?”) Put simply, I never got it. Why would I waste my time sending out short, insignificant messages on there when I can send out long, insignificant ones right here?
After WDC disappeared this past December I wondered about other ways I could publicize my blog for free. Sending out press releases that no one would read was instantly nixed. So was joining LinkedIn. (One of my college professors, who I’m still friendly with, invited me to sign up sometime last year. But after some investigating I didn’t feel comfortable becoming part of a community that had been hacked. And after reading a lot of bad reviews from users I wasn’t persuaded that it would help me advance my writing career.)
For quite some time I had been checking out the official Twitter accounts of Sophia Bush, Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald, Howard Stern, former WWE Champion CM Punk and numerous others. Sometimes I would laugh, sometimes I would get deeply annoyed and sometimes I would be moved by their postings.
It must be said they have an astounding number of followers. (The power of celebrity is more potent online than it is anywhere else.) Despite being a mostly unknown blogger for eight years, I’ve never accumulated more than tens of followers directly through my site. These famous folks are generating huge followings ranging as low as hundreds of thousands up to tens of millions of people. If I joined them how could I possibly compete with those numbers?
That aside, over the weekend, I started to write down all the reasons I should stick with my “no policy” as well as the reasons why I should lighten up and give this thing a chance. (I had eight for and seven against.) In the end, despite my strong reservations, I had finally convinced myself that whatever I perceived to be imperfect about Twitter was worth tolerating if it meant exposing The Writings Of Dennis Earl to a whole new audience.
So, on January 28, I signed up. (You can follow me @DennisCEarl.) I have to admit that, so far, it’s not been a bad experience. Tweeting is very easy to do. You simply click a button, a small window pops up and you start typing. A character counter in the bottom right hand corner of the screen keeps track of your limit. When you’re done, you click again and voila, there’s your tweet for all to see.
As expected, I don’t have many followers at the moment. I had forgotten that Green Venture, a local non-profit environmental agency that I briefly wrote for in the fall of 2009, had actually invited me to join Twitter a year or so ago but I simply ignored the request. Once I officially signed in to my Twitter homepage for the first time, they were my first follower (because their original invitation was not actually rejected). Shortly thereafter, Monkeybiz.ca, another non-profit site that published numerous movie and music reviews of mine over the last few years, started following me as well. And that’s where things stand at the moment.
Thus far, I’ve posted 16 tweets, most of which feature links to certain blog pieces I’ve written here. (Expect a lot more of that soon.) And I’ve slowly started finding accounts to follow (mostly celebrities). I haven’t directly messaged anyone yet or started any silly Twitter wars but it’s early. All I really hope for is to find some more readers through the service.
In the meantime, like I said, please follow me @DennisCEarl either through Twitter directly or by clicking the Follow button on here. It can be seen right under my five most recent tweets underneath the search box on the upper right side of my homepage, right above “Categories”.
As always, thanks for stopping by. More entries and tweeting yet to come.
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Thursday, January 31, 2013