Thursday, April 2, 2009

To Tweet or not to Tweet?

According to me, and a great deal of other Gen Y'ers out there, that is the question. I bet if you asked Shakespeare, he would say “tweeteth away”. After all, it’s another incredible source of romantic tragedy for him to interpret and dramatize. However, if you were to ask many girlfriends, boyfriends or spouses, they might have a different answer for you.
Twitter has been receiving a lot of press recently, and the media seems to be right on-time once again with their usual 1-2 year lag behind the integration and proliferation of a social medium into main stream culture. With the increasing coverage in newspapers, online, and on television comes an even more rapid ascent to top of mind status for people who would likely never have even heard of such a thing. In my own experience, twitter’s popularity has sparked a number of issues that stem mostly from the fact that every tweet I make reveals a little more of me to the rest of the world (or so it’s been said). In some cases this is true. When I post things like, “Great time at the Horseshoe Tavern last night”, ‘the world’ (or portion there-of who have chosen to follow my updates) gets a glimpse into what I’ve been up to. Most of the time however, this is not what I use twitter for. For the most part, I post interesting sites, thoughts about current events, and the titles and links to my new blog posts. For some, this is seen as a great way to let friends and interested parties know what cool stuff (or not so cool stuff) you’ve been up to. For others, it’s seen as a narcissistic vocalization of one’s own inner monologue that is best left unsaid and unshared with strangers and potential stalkers. Clearly, two distinct ends of the spectrum, but I’d say that most people’s opinions would be situated somewhere between the two.

Twitter, unlike Facebook, limits posts to 140 characters and doesn’t provide users with any other means to connect like adding videos or images. Because of this, twitter is very much a ‘take it or leave it’ medium, and one that innately imposes a necessity to be succinct. I think this does a number of things for the platform. For one, it means people aren’t telling their life stories on twitter; it’s all about the here and now (relatively speaking). It’s very interesting though how so many people, right from twitter’s beginning, saw the short, punchy, easy to do style of updates as an excuse to write about not just anything, but EVERYTHING they’re doing. The simple style combined with the ambiguous “What are you doing?” call to action preceding everyone’s text box, has led some users to shout nonsense pointlessly into the ether. Nonsense like, “I’m tweeting on twitter”. For people such as that, I have no reservation about unleashing the critics (twiticks?) on them. But for those of us who choose to use twitter as a means of access to relevant (because you choose who you follow) yet wildly arbitrary information, I must protest the dissenting voices.
Sure people can abuse twitter, and no doubt people do every day. But just as Facebook was new and scary for many in the beginning, twitter’s new kid on the block image will fade, and eventually settle into a state of ubiquity and commonality; just another social medium that few will even bother to contest.
If you’d like, hop on twitter and follow me @taysharpe. I can’t claim to be the most interesting, but I’ll do my best to post only those things that I find worthy of sharing. As of this post, gone are the days of shout-outs to inanimate objects and rants about telecom giants (though I’ll miss those).
For any critic of twitter out there, all I can say is try it before you knock it. If you’re one of those worried significant others, here’s an interesting article from The Globe and Mail that speaks to this notion of being e-jealous.

Tell me what you think about twits, tweets and twitter by posting a comment.