On this, the occasion of my 5,000th tweet, I am struck by two things. First, how have I thought I had something to say to the "world" 5,000 times in the past two years or so? And second, how in the world did I ever get by without it?
Twitter is Nirvana to news junkies, taken for granted by teenagers (yes, teenagers take everything for granted, but Twitter is the taken-for-grantedest of them all) and, most important to me, instantaneous feedback for funny people (whether or not they make their living in comedy).
As soon as I "discovered" Twitter (in the same way that someone who goes to Vegas this week is "discovering" it) by way of my publicist friend Leisa, Facebook became faux pas. Here was somewhere you could get the gist of live experiences that others whom you like were actually experiencing, get breaking news as it was breaking and, yes, try out jokes on people without having to be in the same room as them.
Believe me, sending out a tweet and not getting a reaction from thousands of followers is a helluva lot easier to take than sending out a joke and getting a one-cough reaction from hundreds (or tens) of people in a live audience.
Twitter has played a huge part in important social movements, the rise (and, more entertaining, the fall) of politicians and public figures and has certainly brought the "#" back. Because let's face it, kids these days don't play tic-tac-toe any more.
Having said all this, there's certainly such a thing as "too much" Twitter. People at live performances these days are in such a rush to "share" the experience, good or bad, with their followers that they often aren't experiencing it themselves. I've had to unfollow some sources who tweet so much it's almost as if they do nothing else in life. (Ariana Huffington comes to mind. I get it, you're at lunch with an important person. Why don't you talk to them and eat instead of fiddling with yourself?)
Teachers, meanwhile, don't have a fighting chance against teens armed with Twitter. It's taken the concept of passing notes to each other from the confines of the classroom to the world at large so that a teacher who loses his patience in Regina can now be mocked mercilessly in Russia within two minutes. Which is another reason I wouldn't last longer than a single class as a high-school teacher. Although the viral video "Teacher throws phone and student out second-storey window" might rival Gangnam Style in popularity.
In short (but, by Twitter standards, waaaaaaay too long), I'm thankful for the opportunities that Twitter provides to share insights, experiences and, yes, even inane "thoughts" with the rest of the world, as I'm thankful for the shared interactions with each of my followers and those whom I follow.
So, thanks to Jack Dorsey, the creator of Twitter (I Googled it) for these past 5,000 interactions. I will soon get to "work" on the next 5,000. Heck, I'll probably even tweet during my next performance which is, in all honesty, for the Canadian Association of Communicators in Education. #ironic #comedianthrownoutawindow.
Steve Patterson is host of CBC Radio One's The Debaters, a recent winner of best male stand-up comedian at the Canadian Comedy Awards and takes his This Is Not Debatable tour through Ontario starting Oct. 19.