How Would You Explain Twitter to Your Grandmother ?

By now thousands of articles and blog posts have analyzed the reasons  for the appeal of Twitter.  They have sliced and diced it neatly into its various components – simplicity, brevity, openness, immediacy,  transparency etc. But if you have ever tried to explain  Twitter this way to someone who has never used Twitter,  you most likely got blank stares.

In fact recently I tried to explain what Twitter is to a friend’s mother  – who is in her eighties and is not computer literate. So I tried to come up with an analogy that could convey the essence of   Twitter to her without using any technical jargon.  And this is what I came up with :

“Twitter is like a giant cocktail party where  everyone is talking (tweeeting) or listening.  You can wander around and mingle with anyone and overhear all the conversations in the room as a steady stream of chatter.  You can also  pick anyone you find interesting  and hear everything they say (or follow them).    You can talk  to any of them and you can grab anyone else’s attention by  just tapping  them on the shoulder with a gentle t@p – that is a tap with an @  (or a mention) !    And if you  hear something interesting you  can just turn around and RepeaT it to everyone who is listening to you –   which would be a RT or a  retweet.  And if  someone finds what you say  interesting they can do the same.    And of course,  almost everybody who is  anybody  is there at this party  –  from Ashton Kutcher to Zappos CEO, Tony Hsieh –   leaders, politicians, CEOs, movie stars, journalists, atheletes,  colleagues, maybe even  your neighbor (and sometimes even their cat)  – and you can talk to any and all of them.   Plus it is a fun way to meet new people.  Which is why it is one of those parties no one wants to miss, and once you are there no one wants to leave.”

So how would you explain Twitter to your grandmother ?

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