Sunday, February 21, 2010

Twittastic! The Evolution of a Love Language.

Since I became a Twitter junkie a little over a year ago, I've had to learn yet another new language. Technically, I'm mono-lingual in the traditional sense. Yes, I can ask where the bathroom is in both French and Spanish, but conversationally I only speak English without embarrassing myself. In the online world, however, where I can exist with my avatars as a reflection my residual self-image (thank you Morpheus), I speak several languages, and Twitter is one of them.

With the rise in popularity of social media, almost everybody knows the common words and phrases. "Status Update" "follower" "tweet" but once you truly immerse yourself in the culture of the social media forum of your choice, you begin to notice common trends, abbreviations, words, and even punctuation that can nuance 140 characters with all manner of meanings and subtext. One of my favourite trends is that of hashtagging for emphasis. If you've checked out either mine or Jeanne's feeds, you will notice we both make use of this device frequently. The original purpose of a hashtag was to create an instant link that can be used to follow a topic. For example, if I were to tweet this:

"I'm so excited to watch #TeamCanada play in the #Olympics today"

You would be able to click on both "TeamCanada" and "Olympics" and bring up all tweets that have those words tagged with a #. A few of us have chosen to take this idea a little bit further, using a hashtag to emphasize even the most obscure word combinations, in order to prove a point. For example:

"I've been working on this scene for six hours. #NewbieWriterFAIL."

Technically this defeats the purpose of tagging a common thread and adding your thoughts to the collective. It does, however, create a cheeky way to add a subtext to an otherwise boring tweet, and if you use Twitter like I do, to ask your community for assistance without having to phrase a direct question. If I were to tweet this, I could guarantee I'd get at least two or three replies and possibly a direct message from my writing community asking what I was struggling with and if they could help.

My point is, don't be afraid to immerse yourself in a culture even if you don't understand it right off the bat. If you can handle yourself with an open mind, it will always be worth your while. If there are any questions regarding Twitter Lingo in the future, I'm sure Jeanne and myself would be happy to translate wherever possible.

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