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This article was published on October 25, 2010

The Twitter Effect

The Twitter Effect
Shayla Maddox
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Shayla Maddox

Artist. Likes circles and astronomy. Interested in Zen. Wants to travel and live in Hawaii. Find me at Shaylamaddox.com/ Artist. Likes circles and astronomy. Interested in Zen. Wants to travel and live in Hawaii. Find me at Shaylamaddox.com/

Editors Note: This post was originally posted on Shayla Maddox’s blog; Maddox is an Artist based in Orange County California. Last week she tweeted something that caught our eye and we asked illustrator extraordinaire Kiersten to put together an illustration to accompany the tweet. We posted it and it did well. In this post Maddox explains what she really meant, what twitter means to her and what happened after her tweet went viral.

So a tweet I made last week apparently went viral on Sunday, and along with 600+ new followers and thousands of comments, an artist made an illustration about it! Aaahh!

How awesome is that? The artist’s name is Kiersten Essenpreis.

Art, from a tweet. Fascinating.

It was posted on The Next Web, as well as Gizmodo (where so far it’s been viewed over 100,000 times.)

Also, my face was on MSNBC.

Regarding what I actually said, I should clarify that it was an off-handed comment meant to be taken casually, and I’m not saying that I specifically hate anyone. Not you, anyway. It was more based out of a general feeling I have regarding the two and how each performs their social networking duties.

(Although I could do without hearing of your lady troubles; your medical issues; your vitriolic hate filled rants that promote political dishonesty, fear mongering, and inequality; your self-congratulatory emo angst; and you and your friends’ occasional incoherent ramblings.)

Naw bro. Naw. Dude bro, naw. Naw dude. Bro. Naw.

In retrospect, had I known this little tweet was going to spread across the masses like wildfire, perhaps I wouldn’t have used “hate,” but rather “really annoyed at.” Perhaps. It was merely the most concise way to describe my feeling at the time I wrote it. I certainly couldn’t fit this lengthy blog into 140 characters.

To be fair, I’m sure the same issues occur on Twitter, depending on how you use it. For me, Twitter provides connection to other artists around the world. I actually enjoy reading about what mundane activities artists are doing during their day, because I’m doing the same things. It’s kind of like a virtual office, which is pretty huge for most of us independent artists who work alone at home all day. It’s not all mundane either, in fact I’ve learned of many incredible opportunities through Twitter. The link sharing qualities alone have literally advanced my career. And it’s not just artists. It’s fans, collectors, galleries, museums, scientists, business experts, entrepreneurs, and other talented, motivated people that I enjoy learning from.

I’ve never once heard a person who doesn’t use Twitter describe it in a way that remotely resembles my actual interaction with it. Twitter gets labeled “narcissistic” a lot, though I generally hear that from Facebookers who update their Facebook statuses with nonsense 25 times a day. Ironic.

Hell, I get the news on Twitter almost immediately as it happens. So that’s cool too. In some ways, Twitter is like a subscription service to the world, tailored to you in any way that you make it. If you follow trainwreck celebrities and boring people, that’s what Twitter will give you. I like to read Twitter almost as a daily newspaper, giving me headlines of whatever aspect of society I’ve plugged into. Pro tip: Skimming is easy! You don’t actually have to read every word written in your feed all day.

Twitter is really more about reading and hearing from others than posting boring, personal observations in a vacuum. If you’re just shouting thoughts into the ether and expecting something to happen, it won’t. I read Twitter far more than I write on Twitter. In any case, it’s about sharing with others.

On the flip side, I don’t get to see pictures of my little cousins whom I never see in real life on Twitter. I also really value the interaction I get with my close personal friends on Facebook. It helps me feel involved, even though I might be too busy to hang out every Saturday night at someone’s house. And hey, I’m not opposed to uploading a hundred pictures at a time of my recent travels into albums on Facebook either. In that way, I appreciate having both. Truly.

But art is more than just my career. It’s my life. I spend far more time thinking artsy thoughts, and stoking my budding entrepreneurialism than I do socializing with friends. At the end of the day, Twitter facilitates a wider audience for my work, as well as a broader spectrum of conversation with thousands of people I would never have met on Facebook. That can’t be beat. I’m incredibly grateful for what Twitter has provided me.

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