Reflections on 12-12-12: No ordinary Wednesday

by @PaulFiarkoski

I’m not into numerology, so I don’t believe anything special happens when numbers line up in a certain way. That said, all the hype with 12-12-12 could have came and went for me with almost no significance. Same for last year on November 11, and October 10 the year before that. August 8, 2008 (08-08-08) was sort of cool since it was my sister’s birthday – and the day of the opening ceremonies for the Beijing Olympics.

My lack of interest in a numerically significant date notwithstanding, somehow a switch was flipped for me the morning of December 12, 2012. It actually started the night before when my 11 year-old daughter made me pinky promise I would take a picture of my iPod screen for her at exactly 12:12 pm since she would be at school.

Couldn’t avoid the buzz
When I checked in on Facebook the morning of the 12th, my feed was lit up with all things 12-12-12. Same thing on Twitter. One post in particular stood out to me: ” 12.12.12 …I have the DVR all ready to go!,” a friend from my high school posted. It was then that I remembered hearing about the benefit concert taking place later in the day at New York’s Madison Square Garden. I promptly set my DVR too.

Time check
I worked from home that day and started my lunch hour at exactly 12 noon, so could I stay focused on upholding the pledge I made to my daughter. An added bonus was being able to hug and kiss my wife like we do each New Year’s eve at midnight. I captured the special moment on my iPod and posted the image on Facebook with a snarky comment about surviving 12-12-12. Even though I know the Mayans alleged apacolypse was allegedly not to occur until December 21, so many people mistook the twelfth for D-day that I decided to play along.

The screen shot I took of my iPod screen at 12:12 on December 12, 2012.
The screen shot I took of my iPod screen at 12:12 on December 12, 2012.

Benefit concert
The day continued as any usual Wednesday would until 6:30 local time when the 12-12-12 benefit concert came on the tv. What a line up! When it kicked off with Bruce Springstein and Bon Jovi I quickly realized this was going to be a big event. The legends just kept parading out, one after another. Roger Waters (Pink Floyd), Eric Clapton, Mick Jagger, the Who. Honestly, I got chills a few times just sitting there watching these larger than life rock stars humble themselves for the cause of raising money for those suffering from the effects of SuperStorm Sandy.

I checked in on Facebook and Twitter a couple times during the show to see how others were reacting to the performances. Most were impressed, although there were a few low points. Kanye West comes to mind. A personal favorite for me was Adam Sandler’s rendition of Hallelujah. An instant classic! The biggest shock for me was that Alicia Keys did not sing her hit “New York”. Maybe I’ll find out when I play the rest of the concert on the 13th that it was part of a finale. I hope so.

Like Farm Aid on steroids
Here was my one-liner that summarized how I felt about the concert: Farm Aid has been working out and taking roids for the last 25 years and has re-emerged as the #121212concert for Superstorm Sandy victims.

I mentioned to my wife that when we look back at tonight in ten years or so, we’re going to realize this was a bigger event than Woodstock, BandAid or any of the other big time concert events.

Meteor Shower
Another topic that others were commenting about on social media was the Geminid Meteor Shower – an event I would not have been aware of were it not for Facebook. Then Kanye West took the stage. About 45 seconds into his act I decided then was a good time to make a break for the hot tub. Everyone else in the family had already dozed off, so I was solo. Low and behold, I saw a few streaks from the meteors whizzing through the night sky, high above South Mountain on the south edge of Phoenix.

I still don’t believe there is any thing special about how certain numbers line up. But thanks to the large contingent of others that do believe, 12-12-12 was anything but an ordinary Wednesday for me.

How to organize those you follow on Twitter with lists

Go ahead, follow anyone and everyone you want to on Twitter. Lists can help you keep them organized.

The trouble with following too many people
In the early days of Twitter, the prevailing wisdom was to not follow more people than follow you. I think the logic was that if you don’t have as many followers as people you follow, then you’re not worth following.

Another reason often given for keeping the number of people you follow on Twitter low was that your feed would be too cluttered if you followed too many people. I admit that after I followed more than a couple hundred people on Twitter, it was hard to keep up with it all.

How Twitter lists help you reduce clutter
Then Twitter lists came along in 2009 and changed all that. A list allows you to group the people you follow by category. Say for instance, you are a baseball fan and like to follow professional baseball players. You can create a list called Baseball.

Once you have created the list, adding people to it is easy. The process varies depending on whether you’re using Twitter on your PC, mobile device or an app on your mobile device so I won’t detail the steps here. Search ‘lists’ in the help menu of the Twitter application you’re using if it’s not plainly evident.

You can add one individual to multiple lists. As an example, I follow @DbacksBaxter – the team mascot for the Arizona Diamondbacks. I added D. Baxter to these lists: Sports, Arizona & Personalities. You don’t have to put everyone you follow on a list. Doing so is not wise in my opinion.

You’ll see the real value of taking the time to set up Twitter lists after you have created a few. Let’s say you’re watching football on a Sunday afternoon. You click on your list called Football or Sports or NFL Fans – whatever you named it – to which you have added the people who play or are interested in football. Next thing you know you’re viewing only the tweets of people on this list who are presumably talking about the game(s). The tweets from others about weather, family or dinner are still out there; you just can’t see them for the time being because you have filtered them out.

Finding worthwhile people for your lists
A good way to find people to follow and add to your lists is to search a key word or hash tag when you know people are tweeting about a particular topic. Want to find other baseball fans to follow? Search #worldseries during the World Series. Try the same for #grammys or #oscars or any particular shows you like to watch. When you see a tweet you like, follow the person that tweeted it and add them to your list for that topic. You can do the same for other areas of interest.

Shortcut: follow other people’s lists
Maybe you think this is all too much work or just don’t have the time to manage one more thing. No problem, you can still take advantage of Twitter lists by following other people’s lists. The quickest way to find lists you might be interested in is to click on ‘Lists’, then ‘Member of’ while logged into Twitter on a PC. (Mobile Twitter apps may not offer this option.) This will show you the lists that others have added you too. Scan the lists and see which ones interest you most. If you like what you see after you click on the name of a list, you can subscribe to it. Now you have a list you can follow without having gone through all the legwork to create or manage it.

Top 100 Twitter lists
If nobody has added you to a list, see what lists some of your favorite people on Twitter have created. Or check out the Top 100 Twitter lists based on number of subscribers. Surely you’ll find a few that interest you.

Don’t let concerns about a little clutter keep you from following more people on Twitter. Instead, follow to your heart’s content and use lists to keep the people you do follow a little more organized.