In the last week, a couple of stories have been written about the growing use of Twitter during live television events and the interactive culture created by it.
So obviously, people have taken to Twitter to talking about, which allowed me to find the articles.
The NY Times' Brian Stelter wrote on Tuesday about the new Water-Cooler Effect of Twitter, which is "encouraging people to split their time between the computer screen and big-screen TV." This has helped live events like the Grammys, Golden Globes and Olympics score high ratings, while people chatter online as the events unfold.
Meanwhile, Max Dawson took to Antenna to discuss the phenomenon from a more personal level and how Twitter has helped bring the academic world of television scholars together, even if they've never met in person before:
I first realized this when I started watching television with some of my colleagues at other universities and colleges. Mind you, I wasn’t actually in the same room with them at the time. In fact, technically speaking I’ve never “met” a number of these people. Rather, when I say that I’ve been “watching television with my colleagues,” what I really mean is that I’ve been following – and responding to – their Twitter updates as we watch television on our own.You should definitely check out the comments section of that article, where a number of today's big time scholars discuss how Twitter has changed their TV viewing habits.
But as I said there, Twitter brings something different to people like me, who are trying to break into academic, popular TV criticism or both. For me, Twitter does certainly exist as a way to follow what some of my favorite critics and scholars are saying as Idol, Survivor or the Olympics unspool live.
But it's also a way for me to attempt to start a conversation with them via Twitter. I'll be honest, when my recent post on the "death" of serialization was RT'ed by Christine Becker, then commented on and RT'ed by Myles McNutt and then done the same by Dawson, it was one of the better moments of that week for me. Later that week, after a couple of my posts had made it onto Becker's News For TV Majors blog, Jason Mittell started following me too. Similarly, I still remember when major TV critics like Alan Sepinwall and Mo Ryan answered questions of mine, too.
So what does this all mean for people like me? I'm not sure. Am I pathetic because I hope that something I write ends up on a blog, which then ends up being mentioned on Twitter by other people who do the same thing I do, only better? Maybe.
An article written over at Gawker discusses this pretty well in terms of prospective media writers trying to get noticed, and make themselves feel better:
Here is what we are doing: We 'follow' writers we like, in multiple senses, in hopes of them, for some reason, following back. We link to posts they write, often. We tend to the shaft. We disagree with them, respectfully, in hopes of a counter-argument. In hopes of being discovered. We work for free. We blog when they instant message us, asking about our internships. We compliment how cute their kids are. We 'like' them, we really 'like' them. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his followers count. Replies are encouraging; @'s are encouraging. It is all about ego and misplaced hero worship and low expectations. And it doesn't come with a paycheck.That's exactly how I feel, maybe a little less cynical. I want people to notice me, but not in a "Hey, look at me!" way. I just want to be a part of the conversation that's happening and no application gives me that opportunity better than Twitter. Sure, I could send an e-mail, I could leave a comment, hell, I could even call Sepinwall on that office number they always put on his NJ.com stuff. But I'd feel obnoxious, and maybe even a little creepy doing that. With Twitter, it all feels okay. I'm not sure that it is, but it feels that way to me. So perhaps I'll go on living in my fantasy world where an @ reply from Sepinwall makes my year.