Although I’ve never been big on social networking sites, my recent writing gig has required me to maintain a Twitter account and post at last seven “tweets” a day. (Good grief, I still can’t get used to that word. It sounds icky and gross and for some reason it makes me want to wrench out my esophagus and rinse it with acid.) I’ve been spending the past few days learning the ropes of hashtags and RTs (retweets). I searched for people and groups to follow and eventually gained a few followers as well.
One of the people I follow on Twitter is Bill Easterly, author of White Man’s Burden (a great read), economics professor at New York University, and nemesis of Bono and Jeffrey Sachs. Okay, nemesis might be too strong a word but he did have a few sardonic remarks against them. The latest post on Aid Watch, a blog he maintains, is about the “best and worst” aid agencies based on a paper he co-wrote with Claudia Williamson. I haven’t really mastered the rules yet, if there are any, on what to write about but it seemed like an interesting subject for a 140-character post so I went ahead and “tweeted” it.
I checked my account the next day and saw that Bill Easterly himself retweeted my post!
Hey cool, Bill Easterly knows I exist! Or not. Turns out you can actually check when other people mention you in their posts through the, well, @mentions tab. So he noticed that I noticed him and, through his RT, tried to make other people notice that he was noticed. Then I got excited by the fact that he noticed that I noticed him. Confused yet?
As a result of this epiphany, I’ve now also gotten into the habit of constantly checking my @mentions and retweets tabs to see if other people noticed me. Latest life lesson on Twitter: everyone is an attention whore. Even Bill Easterly. Even me. Especially me.