We’ve had some interesting stories this week about the varied ways we are using Twitter.
That online phenomenon which some still discount as a joke, is delivering some pretty good punchlines about how we live our lives.
Let’s focus on just three uses of Twitter as it relates to snakes, love, and hamburgers. Can’t get much more disparate than that.
First the snake.
As you probably heard, a highly venomous, 24-inch Egyptian cobra went missing on March 25 from its area of the reptile house at the Bronx Zoo. The thought of having an intimidating asp slithering through the Big Apple, possibly sticking its head up out of someone’s loo, made New Yorkers look twice before sitting down.
Twitter came alive with messages about the cobra … and with messages purportedly from the cobra herself. Right, someone or someones actually took on the guise of the snake and began tweeting away, informing New Yorkers of what she was thinking and doing.
For example, from @Bronxzooscobra we get …
• A lot of people are asking how I can tweet with no access to a computer or fingers. Ever heard of an iPhone? Duh.
• Just FYI, I’ve had it with Samuel L. Jackson too.
• What does it take to get a cab in this city?! It’s cause I’m not white isn’t it?
• Donald Trump is thinking about running for president?! Don’t worry, I’ll handle this. Where is Trump Tower exactly?
• If you want to find me, I right in front of the original Ray’s Pizza.
• I want to thank those animals from the movie “Madagascar.” They were a real inspiration.
As humorous as these tweets were, New Yorkers were getting a little more worried each day that the cobra went unfound. Six days later, however, the mystery was over.
Just like a child who was gone missing only to be found later hiding under his bed, the cobra was found about 200 feet from her holding cage in a dark corner of pipes and other equipment. She was alive and well and apparently just wanted a change of scenery.
The zoo plans to hold a naming contest for the female snake it acquired in February. This escapade should increase the chances for getting a fun moniker for the cobra. Maybe something like “Loosey?”
I was having a chat with William Whitman, head of corporate communications for McDonalds USA, on Friday about how this behemoth company uses the social media in their marketing.
Whitman said that there is no longer any doubt about the marketing value of Twitter and Facebook. They are here to stay, he said.
“Facebook is great for one-way communication, and McDonald’s uses its own Facebook page for that a lot,” he said. “There is some interaction there from customers, but the real interactive communication for McDonald’s comes through Twitter. That’s where you really get out to where the customers are and can engage them one on one.”
As I was thinking about this later, I couldn’t think of another place where more tweets probably originate from than a booth at McDonalds.
Here are a few tweets from McDonald’s Twitter account:
• I watched the McDonald’s Game last night. Wish I could dunk like them! Instead, I’ll settle for dunking my McNuggets in BBQ.
• McDoubles are not just given, they are earned!
• Hope everyone is on guard and prepared for this day of trickery! Happy April Fool’s Day .
• I don’t know about you, but I’m a tad bit sleepy this morning. Looks like it’ll be a McCafe Monday!
Finally, Twitter, texting, and love.
The March 28 issue of Time Magazine carried an interesting piece on the way many Americans are using Twitter to get dates and build relationships.
As I was reading this, I was remembering those painful afternoons and evenings in high school where I would work myself into a sweat worrying about making that phone call to ask a girl out for a date. How many times did I defer that job until the very last minute?
As did other 16-year-old guys I’m sure, I would actually write out the little conversation I expected would ensue, what I would say, what she would say, yadayadayada. Of course, after hello, the chat would always take off in a different direction, leaving me totally baffled about what to say next.
And often in the end, the answer from the girl would be, “Sorry, no,” because she had just made a date the night before when I was deferring that call to this night.
If only Twitter had been around then. Here’s how Time writer Megan Friedman frames Twitter’s role today:
“Compared with a sonnet on perfumed parchment, a 140-character declaration of love doesn’t seem very romantic. But you may get one soon. In a recent survey by Shape and Men’s Fitness magazines, more than 65% of respondents said they had been asked out via text message (and tweets).
“Looking for your Romeo? The boom in Internet dating means there are more fish in the sea than ever before … Half the respondents in a survey by advertising giant Euro RSCG Worldwide said they know someone who had met a partner online.”
This all confirms earlier posts in this blog series which have discussed how technology-driven our interpersonal relationships have become.
As impersonal as that sounds, it sure would have helped this awkward 16-year-old ask for dates back in the late 60s.
I also now know enough to realize, however, that online texts and chats take us only so far in getting to know another person.
In my adult dating years, as the Internet was just establishing itself, I struck up an online, text-based chat with a woman a couple thousand miles away. This back-and-forth went on for weeks when we decided to actually meet each other. As I got off the plane and encountered her face-to-face for the first time, I realized everything I’d heard about the value of non-verbal communications was true.
After the first five minutes I knew it was going to be a very long weekend. It was the last time we ever saw each other.