I discovered today that I don’t know how to retweet. I suppose I should also point out that I’m not exactly a power-user when it comes to social media in general and Twitter in particular. I should also point out that, yes, I’m aware of the link beneath Twitter messages that says, “Retweet.” But that’s not what I’m talking about here. What I don’t know how to do is to post a retweet with some kind of pithy comment before the original message that somehow elevates the message in social standing and suggests that I’m not just some guy in off the street.
You’ve seen them before: someone posts a tweet with a link to a recipe, for example, and twelve people promptly retweet, “Oooh, delish RT…” or, “Must try RT…,” or, “This one’s a keeper RT.” Better still are the various political pundits we all seem to follow on Twitter. The retweeting during the news cycle for the “fiscal cliff” issue was breathtaking. Here was a case—given the constraint of 140 characters—where retweets were themselves retweeted. “Not in Boehner’s lifetime,” or “Not while Obama is President” were a couple of popular retweets as the whole fiasco played itself out. Of course, that was also a time when I couldn’t have retweeted if I had wanted to. But I didn’t know it yet.
So today, I saw a post that I felt was worthy of a retweet, and I found myself coming up short of the mark. I dutifully clicked the link that said, “Retweet,” but all I saw was a text box containing the original message and a button that said “Retweet.” Where was the space before the message for me to add my little bit of wisdom, of social media validation?
I went with my first impulse and clicked “Retweet” hoping I’d get another text box where I could add my benediction. Wrong. And suddenly, there it was. It was just out there; a naked retweet. I was mortified.
I had put a lot of thought into my retweet. Knowing that the original tweeter—a friend from Chicago—had already used most of the 140 characters allowed, and remembering from my English Lit courses that “Brevity is the soul of wit,” I had prepared a retweet that I felt was worthy of any street corner in Hoboken. It was, I felt, pithy, on-topic, and above all, brief. This would have been appropriate because the original tweet was an announcement that today is International Day of Italian Cuisines 2013.
My response to this tweet, had I known how to post it, would have been, “Beh…Who knew?”