i dont understand twitter
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  • “Wait, so what’s a hashtag again?”

For the last year, I’ve been doing the tweeting at @Chicago_Reader, the Reader‘s official Twitter account. In that capacity, and because I’ve been so good at it, I’m often asked what the big deal with this “Tweeter” business is. In my darkest moments I fear that these not-tweeters have missed the boat entirely, but then I reflect on the fact that learning to tweet is a far easier thing than learning how to tie a bow tie or how to buy a nice, cheap wine, and I feel better.

But more than just what it is, these people who ask me “why Twitter, why now” have a lot of reservations, reservations that often belie a quiet fear of the unknown and an unwillingness to try something new. It’s #sad. And since I’m handing off the reins of @Chicago_Reader this week when I pack up my desk for another one at a California newspaper where I won’t have to tweet every half hour, I thought I’d pass on my wisdom to soothe the angry social-media neophytes into joining the Web’s most au courant social network.

What follows is an explainer written for an entirely hypothetical Luddite we’ll call “Dad.”

So, Asher, I keep hearing about this Twitter thing. What’s the deal?
Oh man, Dad, Twitter rules. It’s where everything happens these days: breaking news, the best jokes, real people having real conversations in your industry. Everything is connected! It’s like high school, but everyone’s smart. Basically.