I’m horrified to admit it, but I’ve been using Twitter.
I’ll pause now for the mocking I so rightly deserve.
You might remember that I really hated Twitter for a very long time.
I thought the basic concept as described by Twitter was silly, the media hype was irritating, and the made-up words were stupid.
I’m not the only person to publically hate Twitter. Vanessa Grigoriadis wrote this piece for Vanity Fair. The patronizing article basically calls everyone on Twitter morons (yeah, like I did). But to quote Ryan (from a piece I highly recommend):
Twitter brings out strange reactions in people, particularly among those who have never used it. My lovely girlfriend was at one point so annoyed by Twitter that I set up an appropriately named account just to spite her.
And he’s right. I hated Twitter without ever using it. (Ryan says that makes me a Twitter Bigot. A Twigot?) But it isn’t entirely my fault.
In my time leading up to becoming a Twitter-user, I consistently saw asinine media “reports” about old-man U.S. Congressmen tweeting during important speeches and meetings, about Ashton Kutcher and CNN in a race for followers, or numerous other reports about the way the site was infiltrating lives.
Still, I made a [moderate] effort to understand Twitter by going to their “About” section. It used to say this:
Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing? “Why? Because even basic updates are meaningful to family members, friends, or colleagues—especially when they’re timely.
- Eating soup? Research shows that moms want to know.
- Running late to a meeting? Your co–workers might find that useful.
- Partying? Your friends may want to join you.
The description put forth by the creators of Twitter was inane. I couldn’t take it seriously and I couldn’t understand the usefulness. After all, I already had Facebook to update my friends on my antics, post pictures and read about my friends’ day, why would I need a second medium?
Then I grudgingly started using Twitter for my job. And gradually, I wanted to follow people of my own who didn’t really make sense to follow at work. Then I wanted to re-tweet things people posted that weren’t always appropriate.
So I got my own account. And I was ashamed.
After all, I had been a very public jerk, and I wasn’t sure if my new-found curiosity for Twitter would actually result in a fondness for the micro-blogging site.
So I kept it a secret for a while — I didn’t even tell Ryan right away (if you understood how much he mocks me you’d know why). I certainly didn’t follow anyone who knew me. But I tweeted away in secret.
When I finally decided that I liked Twitter enough to quit being ashamed, I realized that I needed to start using it properly and effectively. This meant using hash tags to join conversations, following people with similar interests to my own (bloggers, writers, angry ranters, etc), and posting my own writing to my feed using catchy titles and good keywords.
It also meant understanding that Twitter isn’t necessarily about connecting with people you already know — there are other, more personal, social media sites for that. I knew I didn’t want Twitter to be a place just to share what I had for lunch, I wanted it to be a place to promote myself as a writer, and to network with people that I otherwise wouldn’t have a chance to “meet.”
Despite Twitter’s seemingly useless beginnings, it actually has become an important part of the social-mediasphere – and many people post very interesting (and sometimes hilarious) things.
Businesses use Twitter to connect with customers. Felicia Day, and others like her, has used Twitter to promote her brand (she has several successful web series) by developing a massive following. I get strangers following my blog because of a tag I used in a post.
Some people still post mundane thoughts, and young girls still bicker over who is the best pre-pubescent boy superstar, but that’s hardly a surprise. Twitter as whole looks a lot like the Internet, or even the world as a whole. Some people are awesome, some people are OK, and some people are idiots.
Twitter has since changed their “About” page to reflect what the service has become, but that is due in large part to the people who use it — people who have figured out how to make something dumb into something brilliant.
Yes, it is still a place for morons, but it’s also a place for rebellion and a place for connection.
Even without those very good reasons, it turns out that Twitter is…sigh… just kind of fun.