Not all social media applications are created equal. I don’t particularly like social media. I can, however, easily say I love Twitter. For people unfamiliar, it’s easy to roll their eyes and scoff at it as just another social media outlet. I’m here to correct that sentiment. Twitter is not the same thing as Facebook. I heard an interesting comparison of the two: Facebook is a complex tool for simple people; Twitter is a simple tool for complex people. I agree. Facebook has turned into a narcissistic outlet for people to attempt to paint a perfect picture of their lives and seek some sorely lacking attention, one-upping each other in the process. It’s devolved into pictures of food, pets, and kids. I swear 10% of the people on Facebook make 90% of the posts. The whole thing comes off as so fake and phony to me. I don’t know how many “best hubby in the world” posts I’ve seen only to learn about their divorce a month later. Twitter, on the other hand, you can make into whatever you want.
First of all, Twitter is how people communicate right now. Watch any news source covering politics, culture, sports, or anything really, and what you’ll see are tweets. Twitter is almost the standard way to directly quote prominent people in a field. Athletes, politicians, celebrities, scientists, business and religious leaders all use Twitter as a way of directly commenting on current events or sharing news of their own. Controversial and provocative tweets by powerful people are automatically news. If Kobe Bryant tweets during a game, that’s what they talk about during the half-time show. If Bill Clinton tweets about Obama, that’s a segment on a political show that night. When Adrian Peterson’s 2-year-old son recently died, his celebrity friends took to Twitter to send out their condolences. Similarly, Twitter has been a valuable tool for social movements in foreign countries. It’s been instrumental in exposing the atrocities committed by dictators and provided a tool for fostering mobilization when other resources were down.
You can’t really act too cool for Twitter if you have any interests at all. Because guess what? Everything is on Twitter. You seriously can make it what you want to make it. Yes, there is the trashy stuff. You can load your follows with Kim Kardashian, Lindsey Lohan, Justin Beiber, and Charlie Sheen if you want. But think of anything you’re into. Really think about everything you like. There are Twitter accounts for it. If you’re into Architecture, there are professional architectural associations and trade publications on Twitter, and many prominent architects have twitter accounts. It’s like that for every field. All of the major magazines, trade journals, and organizations will have accounts, along with the prominent individuals in the field. Basket weaving, chess, mountain climbing, fashion, traveling, craft beer, kayaking, circus performing, magic tricking, I don’t care. It’s on twitter.
Twitter is an excellent news source as well. You could follow four accounts and not miss one thing happening anywhere from your block to the entire world. For instance, in Denver I could follow a couple local accounts, my neighborhood organization and an alternative paper like Westword for news and activities around my house. Then I could follow a regional account like the Denver Post or 9 News for metro area updates. Then I could go with a CNN or BBC News for world events. Viola. Ain’t nothing escaping your radar on any level. And nothing breaks news faster than Twitter. News organizations tweet breaking news long before it makes it to a website or onto TV. The links to articles I cherish as well. If you follow your favorite websites and bogs, they tweet links to their material. You don’t have to actively seek out what you’re into; it comes to you.
Following the eclectic range of things that I do, I noticed something unusual. There aren’t too many trends that are extremely popular among both nerds and “cool” people. Twitter is just that. It’s huge with political nerds. Politics has an enormous presence on Twitter. Journalists, politicians, and political pundits have highly active accounts and talk to each other and post articles all day long on the application. It’s their medium of communication. What’s unusual is that I can say the same thing for hip hop. The “coolest,” too-cool-for-everything rappers live on Twitter. Every major and up-and-coming artist has a twitter account. They tweet constantly. They rap about Twitter. The hottest rappers have millions of followers. How many other things can you think of that are uber popular among political nerds and rappers? I can’t think of any. I didn’t even mention sports. You can follow almost any professional athlete individually, their teams, the professional association, and all the talking heads with their analysis and organizations. Twitter can be used for ultimate fandom.
So, my whole point is, don’t roll your eyes at me when I talk about Twitter. Don’t be an ignoramus. I’m not on there just following Kanye West and tweeting dumb, random things. I use it for a lot more than that. I’ll summarize my Twitter use. I’m a news and political junkie. I get my news from Twitter. I follow many news outlets. I follow all my local politicians directly. I seriously follow my mayor, governor, city council representative, state senator and representative, U.S. house representative and both U.S. senators. I follow everyone I vote for. I also follow numerous other politicians around the country and boat loads of political pundits on the right, left, and center. I follow all of my favorite music artists to get direct information on upcoming tours and music releases. I follow many athletes, sports teams, and sports writers to be an informed fan. I follow the Pope and the Dali Lama for inspirational perspectives. I work in real estate. I follow my professional organization, leading real estate and urban planning writers, and city building organizations. I follow visual accounts like Classic Pictures and Earth Pictures. I’m into running. I follow running magazines that provide information on workouts, injury prevention, and track meet results. I follow my running clubs. I follow my favorite celebrities and personalities. I’m into airplanes. I follow aerospace news and the Denver International Airport. I like space. I follow a few astrophysicists and space organizations. I banter back and forth with friends on Twitter. I follow a local bookstore for information about book signings and speakers. I follow the State Department for travelling updates. I follow the Denver Police Department for information about traffic accidents and crime reports. I follow inspirational speakers who tweet out good life advice. I follow comedians who test material through tweets and get a good laugh. I follow philosophers who tweet thought provoking statements. I follow music and movie critics who give their opinions on what’s worth checking out. And finally, Twitter has provided me a tool to vent, make random observations, and write pithy statements in 140 characters or less. And it’s devoid of the “trying too hard” feeling of Facebook. I’m not doing it for attention. I don’t have any followers. I don’t care. That’s not my point on there.
Overall, Twitter has allowed me to become a more informed person and provided me with a tool for better following my interests. No, my life would not be altered if Twitter disappeared. But the way it is, in its current format, I love it.