Help wanted: a Twitter role model

Matt GallowayMatt Galloway (@mattgallowaycbc), who hosts Toronto’s CBC Radio One morning show, has nearly 55,000 followers on Twitter. (Photo credit: wikimedia commons)

Here’s an excerpt from my draft novel, The Berlin Plot:

He had learned to write and report, first as a bad mimic, then a competent one. Eventually he found his own voice. He now had steady work.

He had a gift for phrasing and a storehouse of analogies. He could deliver a blow in print with timing and impact, just like he had in the boxing ring. He had no ambition to belong to any cause. His integrity, talent and stubbornness kept him a man apart. Always the ringside seat, no longer in the ring, and to hell with the ringleaders: Mark Halton was beholden to no man.

I’ve shared that because it expresses a point I’ve been reflecting on about social media.

The point? Mimicry has its merits.

Why have I been reflecting on that? Because I need a Twitter role model. I haven’t found someone who uses it the way I’d like to use it.

Mimicry has a bad name, I know. It’s not a good end stage. It’s not original enough or engaging enough to be. It seems sort of…lazy…or at best, lacking in confidence. I’m neither. I’m just very busy, and only now paying attention to Twitter. I’ve got to catch up, and precious little time to waste following, say, any Kardashian or the Tweeter-in-Chief.

Besides, mimicry has been given a bad rap. Art students study artists, then paint or sculpt. Writers read voraciously, then write. We learn how to walk and talk and skate and a million other things by…watching, learning, then trying on our own. Mimicry, in other words.

Mimicry seems to me to be a good stage to go through to learn to create content. The value we place on originality should not be paralyzing. Don’t we learn output by first receiving input, and how to create by first consuming? Creating content on social media is no different.

This is where I confess my failings. While I finally created a Twitter account, I’ve yet to find a valuable role model for how I’d like to tweet and retweet, and the kinds of content I’d share. I chose to follow my company, a hockey team, and a singer-songwriter I’m fond of. But they’re too unlike me to be helpful role models. My use of Twitter will be as a regular well-read, civil-tongued guy, not a pro team or huge corporation or indie-rock artist.

So, who do you follow on Twitter who’s local, or at least Canadian, and is thoughtful about what they tweet and retweet – and why do they impress you? Is there an Ottawa version of Matt Galloway? Recommend one, and I’ll check them out, and let you know what I thought.

My last defence of mimicry returns to the novel excerpt. It has punchy prose that portrays a lonely masculinity. Why? Both are prerequisites in my genre. I learned that by reading novels like that.

Then I mimicked them – first badly, then competently, and eventually in my own voice.

twitter Help wanted: Twitter user extraordinaire in Ottawa. Who’s worth following?

facebook Who’s a great Twitter user with Ottawa and Canadian content? Wanted: someone worth following.

2 thoughts on “Help wanted: a Twitter role model

  1. Great post! I think you make some really excellent points. Mimicry really does have a bad reputation, but I agree with you that it serves a purpose. It’s how a lot of us learn. I wish I could recommend someone for you to follow who might help you out with this, but I find myself in the same boat. Professionally, I know who to follow and have found some great role models for my organization, but personally I find that I’m like you and at a bit of a loss.

  2. Thanks Kim. Glad to know it’s not just me who has found it difficult.It’s going to take some work to find someone who is engaging but not self-absorbed or just sharing the political and pop culture stuff. I can find that on my own if I want to! Rob

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