Why I use Twitter

I’m famous!

My tweet is in this youtube video! I’ve also had at least one tweet published in the local(ish) paper The Metro (I don’t even read that paper). Clearly, I’m famous! 😉

Discovering my cameo in that video yesterday got me ruminating about the uses – and power – of social media, and why I use it, particularly Twitter.

I used to be a massive Twitter-hater. This wasn’t based on having tried it, naturally: I hated the notion of limiting expression to such a small snippet. I still maintain that the soundbite society we live in is no good for us: we need to explore issues and discuss them in more than clichés; we need to realize that most of what happens are complex, many-layered things that the short form will simply never capture adequately.

Life is like a fractal ... complex at every level of zoom.

Life is like a fractal …
complex at every level of zoom.

At some point, however, I realized that the thing is: I must live in this soundbite world. I must express myself in this world. I started using twitter as a means to make me focus on and reach a point very quickly.

I’m not limiting myself to 140 characters per post on my blog, however.

Left to my own devices, I can talk. I talk in layers. For example, I might start with topic A, then bring in topic B, then C, then D, which I use to make a point about C, so then I carry on with C for awhile, then I bring in E, until I’ve linked that back up with B, which I carry on with for awhile, til I reach the point about B that I wanted to make, which brings me back to my point about topic A. This is how I work.

Thing is, most people aren’t interested in the multi-layered discussion, especially in writing; because they are used to soundbites, they want a concise and to-the-point pieces. If something appears too long, they’re loathe to read it. So, when expressing myself for public consumption, I need to discipline myself to focus more tightly on the topic at hand. Enter twitter: if I can manage to express myself there, how much clearer and stronger will the rest of my writing become?

What I’ve found in twitter is many-fold: a brilliant way to keep abreast of what’s going on locally (much of Glossop is on twitter); links to ideas, photos, information, and more that I’d have never come across in my usual internet haunts; some companies that actually respond when their customers have a problem; a vastly more reliable way of following people than facebook ((Facebook doesn’t show any user all the updates from the people, businesses, groups, and organizations that they’ve liked/friended/joined/etc. Making an interest list helps, and so does the browser plugin Social Fixer, but some posts still remain hidden, since facebook is so full of bugs.)); and most of all, a good bit of fun along the way.


All that ruminated around my head yesterday. Today, I came across Wil Wheaton’s post about what to expect from him if you follow him on twitter ((Also interesting from that post is the link to How twitter was born.)). I am obviously no celebrity, and 4,000 people have never looked at a picture of my socks, but otherwise I’m going to reiterate one of his points, since I agree with it so strongly:

My favorite socks!  Hand-knitted to my measurements and desires by Michelle.

My favorite socks! Hand-knitted to my measurements and desires by @knitstixnstring.

The way I continue having fun with Twitter is that I do what I want with it, and I hope you’ll come along for the ride if you think it’s worth it. … [If] you just don’t think I’m very interesting, that’s cool — no one likes everything or everyone. … Just unfollow, and we’ll each go our own way, cherishing the time we had together and moving on. No regrets.

I must say, the lack of drama over following and unfollowing is another thing I truly like about twitter. At least, that’s how I treat it: it’s all a bit of fun. When an account stops being informative, interesting, and/or entertaining, I quit following it. I expect the same from everyone else – really, through all mediums.

If a piece of writing of any length doesn’t inform, interest, or entertain you, there really isn’t much point in reading it, is there?