The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

July 5, 2009

Chris Voccio: Twitter, Narcissism, and Teen Girls

BY CHRIS VOCCIO

I started hearing about Twitter only recently, and didn’t really take it seriously until someone at our corporate office mentioned that some of our company’s newspapers were using it to update their readers on breaking news. (I’m still not sure how seriously I’m taking this Twitter thing.)

If you’re not familiar with Twitter, here’s a layman’s explanation, the only explanation I’m qualified to give. Twitter is a Web site where you can go and join as a “follower” of any number of other members. You could “follow” a news organization, like CNN or Fox News (or the Commercial-News!) or you could follow your niece in Arizona, if she is also a member and if she elects to “Tweet.”

Tweeting is a process whereby a member types in a brief message that is then transmitted to all of the Tweeter’s followers. If you have Twitter set up on your cell phone, the Tweets sent out by those you elect to follow will come to your phone. And as a member, you can “tweet” to your heart’s content, sharing your thoughts and observations with your “followers.”

Our IT manager, Eric Hamric, informed me that he had set up the Commercial-News on Twitter, so we had a head start in utilizing this technology.

I asked him to brief me and some of the managers at the Commercial-News on Twitter, and I opened my own Twitter account, Twitter.com/Voccio. I starting “following” former GE chairman Jack Welch, as I thought I might be interested in what he had to say.

Before long, I had a few “followers” of my own. I have no idea how these people knew I was on Twitter, or why they would even care. It didn’t take long to figure out that a couple of my followers weren’t legit, like KarlaVenez92559 or Mariahxmoo30470, who I suspect are fronts for some sort of scheme, posing as teen girls who have an interest in me.

Then DACC started following me. Again, I have no idea why, or how they knew I was on Twitter. But because they started following me, I thought I should go ahead and start Tweeting. But I don’t have much to say (seriously), and my tweets reflect that.

Even Jack Welch was sending out Tweets about inane things, until I canceled him out of existence. And that’s the problem with Twitter. People with Twitter accounts are too easily tempted to Tweet. So Jack Welch, a business legend, was sending out messages about his lunch plans. Others tweet about what they’re snacking on at the moment. Come on.

I’m not sure if this Twitter thing is a fad, or if it will have more enduring utility. A lot of it is pure narcissism, as some people are Tweeting as though they were teenagers sending out text messages. But it could serve a useful purpose, witness the recent events in Iran, where Twitter was a tool of a fledgling revolutionary movement.

But starting today, the Commercial-News will send out Tweets that readers of the C-N may be interested in. We’re not going to flood your phone with nonsense. Rather, we’ll send you local news updates and other relevant information that you might be interested in. I would encourage you to go to Twitter and start following us at Twitter.com/Commercialnews.

But watch out for those teen girls!

Chris Voccio is publisher of the Commercial-News. Contact him at cvoccio@dancomnews.com.