If you’re starting on Twitter and not sure how to go about it, I hope this article sparks an idea.
I started a Twitter account 2 and a half years ago but never actually used it (for the same old reasons).
Recently, I began to rethink this because as a professional, working in the information age, I understood that not having an active personal Twitter account means I’m not doing all I could be doing to develop a healthy network.
After a little bit of back and forth, I made the decision. Let’s do Twitter! Of course, the question then becomes ‘What the heck should I tweet?’
Two types of content
Should I try to tweet something ‘good’ (that others will find entertaining / educational)? Or should I disregard the ‘quality’ of my tweets and just do it for myself, using Twitter as my personal online notepad?
Remember, at this stage, the goal is just to have an active Twitter account. The content was secondary – meaning I could choose, whichever of the two types I was comfortable with.
So I noticed that a lot of people (and I guessed, most people) who were starting their Twitter accounts would choose the latter option: use it to write ‘reminders for themselves’. It certainly seemed like a nice way to remove the pressure of dealing with the lack of people seeing/interacting with your tweets.
But I was somebody who actually did value reminders. I genuinely believe most human problems arise because we forget what we’re supposed to do. I actually do want to find a special place (differentiated from my phone’s notepad) to store my ultimate, most important personal reminders. Preferably on the cloud, accessible from multiple devices.
Yes, there were lots of other options.
- Google Drive / One Drive / Dropbox was an obvious choice but it’s a place of work and it’s full of work documents. My reminders would not stand out and hence fail to serve their purpose.
- My own website/domain/blog? Well this is it. I wanted this to be a place of slightly longer articles. And by definition, a reminder is a repeat of something already in existence, so ideas should start out in one location and be repeated in shorter form somewhere else.
- A fresh, clean, unused Twitter account seemed attractive for this purpose.
I’m uncomfortable with ‘endless’
The main reason I never liked Twitter in the past was because I didn’t like the idea of a continuous flow of thoughts from now until infinity (read: until one of us -myself or Twitter- dies). What if I discovered the meaning of life, tweeted it as a reminder to myself but forgot it because I followed it up with thousands of other tweets? That seemed highly possible considering the amount of good ideas I discover from intelligent people on the internet every single day.
I don’t like the idea of an endless stream of tweets (neither as a writer nor reader) because I didn’t like the idea of linear infinity.
I like the idea of circular infinity – meaning, I need closure. I need to define an end point.
So that was the moment I decided it would be a good idea to define how many total tweets my Twitter profile would contain before I started. A nice round number like 100 or 1000 seemed to make sense.
I remember when I started my Instagram, after the first 9 images, I wanted to stop because my feed looked perfect – I really loved those first 9 pictures. My favorite filmmaker Quentin Tarantino always said he would make 10 total movies for his career. I prefer the idea of working with you on a 6-month contract instead of indefinitely.
I don’t think I’m unique in this. Notice how most commuters prefer to know how many minutes there are before the next train arrives. For me, starting a Twitter account and randomly tweeting stuff without an end in mind is the same as standing on a platform with no overhead information display, staring out into the distance, waiting for the train to come.
My magic number
So how many tweets will I have on my Twitter account?
I toyed with the idea of having 1000. That seemed too many. I toyed with the idea of having 1. That seemed too few.
So somewhere in between. Do I have to decide now?
I guess not. What should I tweet about?
Something that means something to me.
And then it hit me. The magic number. It was 6.
I arrived at this number after looking at research on how many items a typical human brain can store in its memory. After considering a good amount of data, and doing quite a lot of work with myself, I decided that 6 would be the ideal number for me. That’s the number of total tweets I will have and that’s how I will maximize Twitter’s usefulness.
Now that a plan was in place, of course it was time for Resistance to rear its ugly head.
I sat on this idea for a few
days, weeks, months and was close to abandoning it for no discernible reason until I re-read a previous blog post reminding me about the importance of output.
This firmly put me back in the mood to begin. Well, let’s say the desire was there, but I wasn’t sure how to begin. I still needed one final push (inertia is real!)
Again, I found inspiration in an earlier post about the importance of balance. In fact I found the meaning of life in that post! (Disclaimer One: For me.) (Disclaimer Two: At this point in time until further notice).
I gained clarity on what my first tweet should be.
That’s it! Just one word.
Maximizing Precision in Language
Language is so inefficient, the less we use (without reaching ‘zero point’ of not using it at all), the less chance of miscommunication there will be.
So the least amount of language I can use without reaching zero point is one word, isn’t it?
I’m going with one word for now. And that word will be: balance. It will remind me of the exact thing I need to be reminded of. (I hope it will help you too, if not you should come up with your own one word).
‘Balance’ is a very important word for me. It represents the idea of finding a place in an area between two extremes while remembering the one law of the universe which is that everything is in motion.
And then I got really excited. I figured out how the rest of the 6 tweets would go.
The first tweet will have one word. And it will be: ‘balance’.
The second tweet will have two words. The third, three and so on until the sixth, which will have six words. This is how I practice maximizing precision in the use of language.
Each of them will remind me what my ultimate truth is. I will delete and replace tweets as I continue on my journey of discovering more truths but I will never have more than 6 tweets at any one time because that’s the optimal number for my brain to store and retrieve at any moment of the day.
After all this, instead of kickstarting my 2-and-a-half-year-old Twitter account, I decided to start a new one from scratch. There’s something exciting about starting from zero. Fresh install. New everything.
So @6reminders was born! And because I’m only under contract with myself to do 6 tweets, I have very low barrier to entry.
So in conclusion, if you’re intellectually aware of your need to have a presence on Twitter or a blog or YouTube or a podcast, but are unable to get past the natural emotional barriers (‘Why should I do it?) then take one thing away from this blog post: lower the barrier to entry for yourself.
To help you further, I’d like to leave you with a quote from a screenwriting legend, the late, great William Goldman:
See you there!