Twitter recently announced it had registered the 20 billionth tweet, from GGGGGgo_Lets_Go, a graphic designer in Japan. The tweet said: “So that means the barrage might come back later all at once.”
In corporate or pre-school parlance (they’re often the same), “what’s the take away?”
To anyone but astronomers and the federal government, 20 billion is a big number. What’s more astonishing than the numerical milestone is the tallying and recording of that 20 billionth message. Long ago, McDonald’s would periodically post a fuzzy count of the number of burgers they had sold. Beneath the golden arches, it might have said “Over 50 million served.” By the 1990’s, the counting became too arduous, so they opted for the less perishable phrase “billions and billions served.” Not so in the digital age.
And what of the content of that tweet? Neither profound nor profane, portentous or promotional, it was just sort of… beige. One wonders, had it been a threat or obscene, would Twitter have “pushed” it to the 20 billon- and-one mark, replacing it with a more palatable tweet? Youbetcha.
Timing is everything. Bill Cosby’s death-denial tweet – – “Again, I’m rebuttaling [sic] rumors about my demise” — might have been only a few tweets apart from GGGGGgo_Lets_Go’s. Had Cosby’s been the 20 billionth tweet, how much cooler would that have been – issued from a star with both a death reference and a grammatical error? Cosby’s alleged demise had been the number one Twitter trend up until his refutation. To quash the rumors pre-Twitter, he would have had to pay a pricey publicist to craft a statement and flog it to carefully chosen media outlets. Now, Dr. Huxtable just thumbs his Blackberry and presto – instant global reach. Easy as Jello.
Excepting his imminent demise, Cosby’s pretty far off the radar. Were he more top-of-mind and worried about his next role, he might have been more careful with that tweet, and been certain “rebuttaling” was actually a word.
So here’s the “take away.” Social media is a powerful tool that anyone can use, but with extremely varied results. Being able to type does not make one a writer, no more than swinging a paintbrush makes one an artist.
As the Parris Island DI said to the recruit toying with a flame-thrower, “Son, maybe you better leave that to a professional.”