I gave in. I created a Twitter account. Yes I know I’m a bit late, but I simply didn’t see the need for one, especially with Facebook dominating most of our lives. I decided to google Twitter, to see how the media has perceived it. Article after article came up filled with praise. They each described Twitter as a new global phenomenon, and by the enthusiasm generated from one single social networking site you would have thought they’d found a cure for cancer!
However, the question ‘what even is Twitter?’ had been left unanswered in my mind. All I had found out was how great Twitter apparently is and after the success of Facebook, I assumed that it was a social networking site not too dissimilar. How wrong I was.
Curious to be part of this world of ‘tweeting’, I succumbed and followed the masses by creating an account. Disappointment flooded me. I was expecting some hi-tech, super-cool, better version of Facebook, and what do I get? Facebook minus photo albums, videos, applications, chat…well basically Facebook minus everything other than the ‘update your status’ box. Twitter is basically a communications platform that limits you to a couple of sentences at most. What’s next? Software that allows you to send a single punctuation mark to describe your mood?
I felt cheated, used, and disillusioned. Social networking? What a con. In my exasperation to prove my first impressions wrong I began to ‘follow’ people. Twitter was just beginning to seem like a less useful and more ‘stalker-esque’ version of Facebook. Because ‘following’ somebody is absolutely normal, isn’t it? What happened to the good old ‘add as friend’?
It began to dawn on me that Twitter was definitely not created for people like me. It’s true to say that its most common users are celebrities and businesses. I guess you could regard it as a marketing ploy, a way to get yourself out in the world wide web, without all the hassle and formality of a website. Celebrities from Snoop Dogg to Barack Obama have Twitter accounts, and they actually use them! It seems that Twitter is a way for fans to stalk their favourite celebrities’ every move! Perez Hilton, an American blogger, claims to like the site because sometimes celebrities update their ‘tweets’ without consulting their personal assistants or agents. How thrilling.
Seriously, what has the world come to? I thought the obsession with Facebook was a bit much, but in comparison to Twitter, it’s relatively healthy. At least we’re stalking people we know, that we actually interact with and that actually play a part in our lives. Why would we waste hours of our time following people that don’t even know we exist? Honestly, does anyone care that Martha Stewart’s “doggies” voted yesterday?
The ‘tweets’ I came across grew more and more irrelevant and idiotic. Why does the world need a service that lets you send 140 character updates to your ‘followers’? It’s not as if we’ve all been sitting around wondering, “If only there were a technology that would allow me to alert my friends in real time about my choice of breakfast cereal this morning.”
However, as I persevered, I began to see the attraction of a concept like Twitter. The recent London riots really opened my eyes to this. Twitter opens a huge forum for dialogue for celebrities and regular citizens alike, allowing people to voice their opinions and share interesting updates and links. Unlike Facebook, Twitter allows everyone to see your tweets, not just your friends, and creates a platform for one to be noticed in the world.
After my initial skepticism, I’m afraid to say I may have judged Twitter a little harshly. After creating my very own Twitter account only a week ago, I am keen to hang in there. So, only two people are following me, but maybe in another month another five will be, and then another five…who knows? My initial comparison of Twitter to Facebook was ill-informed as clearly the two are very different. Although both fall under the term “social networking”, Facebook puts more emphasis on the “social” and Twitter on the “networking”. However, I won’t be a complete Twitter-convert anytime soon and after a week of ‘tweeting’ I must say that I’m looking forward to returning to the comfortable and familiar world of Facebook.