I guess you could call this post a continuation on one of my previous ventures, “Adventures in Apps.” Today, I wanted to focus on a little thing called Twitter, and the newly complicated relationship I have with it. Undeniably, my experience with this social media oversharer began when my father sat me down, and very seriously asked me what a hashtag was. This was funny enough by itself, but what was possibly even funnier was my explanation. (Note: just because I’m young-ish, doesn’t mean I know exactly how the internet works. You’re talking to someone who is typing this on her HP laptop circa 2008, next to a copy of WordPress for Dummies.) My ensuing diatribe went something like this:
“Well…a hashtag is, like, something that was initially intended to serve as a form of categorization…?
But, now people just start everything with this little pound-sign thing…?
Because it’s amusing…?
Like, if I put #amusing in a tweet…you could look up #amusing…and see my tweet…? As well as all the other people who used #amusing…?
I honestly don’t think he understood, and I don’t blame him. I’m still not entirely sure I understand myself and am pretty sure I fail at social media. Don’t even get me started on tweeting AT people. Anyway, once I set up my Twitter account, I literally googled “How to use Twitter,” and then read through an entire page entitled “Mom This is How Twitter Works.” It’s filled with great examples and how-tos, but possibly confused me even more than before. There’s also a poignant little section on Twitter vs. Facebook. Interestingly enough, there is quite an existing overlap already, even without Twitter unveiling its new layout, so that it now looks exactly like your Facebook profile. Too bad most of my generation is already over Facebook. Remember when it used to be just for college students to connect with their current and former classmates? I miss those days. You’re lying if you’re telling me you don’t. I’m sure everyone is thrilled to have their mother, their nosy coworkers, and their grandparents on Facebook now. We love you, but we also don’t want you to see our incriminating LasVegas photos taken at 5am that one time on Spring Break.
Twitter itself is quite an interesting concept, and can be a fantastic way to obtain concise information about anything under the sun in a mere glance. My Twitter feed is essentially all my local and world news, consolidated in one long stream. I wake up in the morning, scroll, and read all the headlines in under a minute. Fabulous thing, technology. Being a woman with varied tastes, I enjoy following news organizations, NGOs, and political figures as well as fashion magazines, cosmetic companies, and Youtube personalities. Now, what I find slightly disturbing is that when I scroll through my Twitter feed, I will find the latest on the Syrian refugee situation, right next to an article extolling the virtues of coral lipstick for summer. This phenomenon often makes me feel like the most ridiculous human being. “There’s war all over the world and hundreds died in riots, but OMG those shoes would look great with this bag!” It’s undeniably easier to compartmentalize these parts of your life without Twitter. On the other hand, it’s hard to derive any kind of meaningful perspective from this seemingly random stream of information. You take it with a grain of salt, as it were.
Unfortunately, Twitter can also be a place where the endlessly narcissistic flock to tell everyone what they had for breakfast that day, or share their medical histories. My rule: if you would not say it in everyday conversation, it does not belong on Twitter. Just say no.
In the end, I’m still not entirely sure what I think of Twitter. It’s been a fantastic sounding board for all of the little ideas, pictures, and one-liners that pop into my head at random. I also enjoy connecting with many of my students on Twitter, as it’s perhaps less personally invasive than Facebook. I was, truthfully, it’s biggest skeptic; yet it’s ability to allow its user to customize their preferences makes it a lot easier for those not so keen on sharing their personal lives to enjoy. If you’re on the fence, give it a try. You can always blame me if it doesn’t work out. And then I’ll have something else to write about…