“It’s true, Ma. You don’t need a smartphone. People went thousands of years without them. People also went thousands of years without indoor plumbing.”

Some days it seems like it’s easier to update computers than mothers.

Perhaps you know a Luddite – someone who doesn’t have an affinity for technology. Luddites would like to toss new technology into the crapper – only the crapper was once a new technology. Even the perforations in toilet paper were, a one point, a patentable idea. So really what we are talking about with Luddites is a comfort factor. (Comfort factor with technology. Not the toilet paper on their behinds.)

Back in the mid 1990s, I had a boss who actually bragged — bragged! — that he couldn’t figure out how to read his own email; he had his secretary print it all out for him. To make matters worse, this was a guy with a PhD in Physics from an Ivy League School. And he was running a high-tech group.

I remember thinking at the time that maybe the secretary should have been running the group.

You wouldn’t brag if you didn’t know how to drive a car? Or use an ATM? Or use perforated toilet paper?

Would you?

And yet members of Congress routinely, and proudly, claim ignorance about the very technology (or series of tubes) they are supposed to regulate! Now, in some circles, it might be a badge of honor to proclaim oneself a Luddite – but do you really want to aspire to the standard set by a member of Congress?

Didn’t think so.

So I am shocked by the number of individuals and theater companies that still willingly ignore easy and cheap avenues to get the word out about their projects and productions. Just to be specific, let’s talk Twitter. Unlike Facebook, Twitter gives you the ability to have asymmetric communication. In English: you can broadcast to followers whom you wouldn’t in a million years want to follow back. Better still: people don’t have to follow you to see what you write on Twitter.

Can you do without Twitter in your theatrical life? Sure. Can you do without electric lights in your theater? Yup. Billy Shakespeare did. And he didn’t do too badly.

But isn’t it telling that the only people who don’t need a Twitter account are those well-known enough to hire other people to post for them? If it’s good enough for Bill Gates or Lady Gaga or Shakespeare or The Mime — individuals who already have other methods to reach their followers — it’s good enough for me. Or you. (Disclaimer: I’m really only certain about Shakespeare hiring others to tweet for him.)

And if you still aren’t convinced, consider: others are using Twitter to build followings and provide direct channels of support. These other groups represent direct competition to your projects. How will you fight back? Spend money on post cards and stamps? Email blasts? I don’t think people even use email anymore except to set up social media accounts.

Like Twitter.

Word-of-mouth is commonly accepted as the best form of advertising. When I see a theatrical production that I think my Twitter followers (termed tweeple, not twits) would enjoy, I’ll twitter about it. I’d even direct my followers to the Twitter accounts associated with the production – if only they existed.

See where this is going? So maybe it’s time to pretend it’s 2008 and get yourself a Twitter account. It’s really not that newfangled anymore. It’s old school. Like perforations in toilet paper.

And when you tweet about LA Theater, don’t forget to include the hashtag “#LAThtr” in your tweet. Why? Because some websites concerned with LA Theater (like the one you are reading now) will repost your tweets if they contain #LAThtr. Digital word-of-mouth. Free-of-charge.

How cool is that?


More thoughts about Twitter:
Rockin’ Stage Raw Awards (Tweet, Tweet, Tweet)
Are You Part of the Digital Revolution?
It Will Take a Village: #LAThtrAwards
A Call to Action: Using #LAThtrAwards to promote #LAThtr
No Live Tweeting? That’s Failure to Communicate

Originally published September 1, 2012 in Bitter Lemons.