Left Coast Bias: Confessions of a Twitter Cynic

Here's how clueless I really am: One day a long time ago, a friend called me and I told him I would call him right back on his cellphone. When I dialed his digits, I was immediately met by the theme to a popular TV show.

Figuring it had gone right to voice mail, I hung up and dialed again. Again, no ringing, just the same song.

I waited a minute then called again; same thing. Annoyed, I decided to wait until the song ended and unfurl a few expletives at his voice mail, when suddenly he picked up. Caught off guard, I asked him how he had picked up when the voice mail message had already started.

He then introduced me to a ring-back tone, where callers don't hear ringing when they call but instead get a song selected by the person they dialed.

OK, confession time: It wasn't a long time ago. This was last week.

And it was the latest proof that once I hear about something, it must be on the way down. Once I actually buy or join some fad, you can consider it officially over.

So take this for what it's worth: I just joined Twitter. Right after Oprah.

The impetus was actually one of my infinitely more hip reporters pitching me a story on how the TV industry could make use of Twitter if it sticks around.

Figuring I should finally see what all the fuss was about, I created an account (@bcbengrossman). If you are even more clueless than I am, Twitter is an online social networking thingamajig where you can write short missives (they are apparently called “tweets,” but there is no way in hell I am calling them that) to be read by people who “follow” you, or subscribe to said missives.

Once I figured out how to work the thing, I started finding people to follow. From TV hosts to celebs to other journalists, I built a little network to test it.

Thank the good Lord I finally joined Twitter, or I wouldn't have been able to hear about Carson Daly's recent trip to the dentist or Ryan Seacrest's need to explain to his mom who Slash is. And I would have missed a bunch of journalists blathering on about their beloved on-the-bubble network shows that no one watches but undoubtedly will get another year, because filling 22 (or 17 or 15) hours a week just ain't what it used to be.

Granted, there are those who think Twitter is here to stay. As reported in our cover story, some TV executives want to use it for research purposes, and some think there is actually money to be made around this thing.

Gotta be honest, I don't see it. It seems like the latest fad du jour. It's smart that network PR staffs and news divisions are using it to spread their spin, but now that the uncool mainstream (read: me and Oprah) has caught on, the audience it wants will inevitably move on. Fast.

If I owned it, much like Facebook, I would sell it yesterday, take my big bag of cash and retire to Aix-en-Provence and start looking for my 18-year-old second wife.

So to summarize, I don't see Twitter as anything more than a short-term fad nearing the end of its 15 minutes. Which reminds me—don't forget to follow all the B&C insiders at our Twitter page at http://tinyurl.com/cwo35j.

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