On Twitter

I resisted Twitter for a long time, and when I finally signed up I felt a bit sheepish about all my pooh-poohing. So why did I finally sign up? Because friends were having conversations there that they weren’t having via other mediums, like chat and Facebook. I have found that I really like hearing about the stupid annoyances and routine happenings of the lives of folks whom I care about but rarely see. Recently, danah boyd wrote an interesting post that defends the social aspect of Twitter, in the face of a report that finds that the majority of tweets are meaningless blather:

I vote that we stop dismissing Twitter just because the majority of people who are joining its ranks are there to be social. We like the fact that humans are social. It’s good for society. And what they’re doing online is fundamentally a mix of social grooming and maintaining peripheral social awareness. They want to know what the people around them are thinking and doing and feeling, even when co-presence isn’t viable. They want to share their state of mind and status so that others who care about them feel connected.

That is exactly what finally drew me in. Once there was a critical mass of people I cared about on Twitter, I started paying attention to their tweets, and eventually I jumped in myself because it seemed silly to email someone in response to a tweet they had posted Sunday night, which I was seeing in my newsfeeds over lunch on Monday. I still really don’t care about following news organizations or random famous and semi-famous strangers and librarians. To me that’s not what Twitter is for, though it makes sense to use it that way (and I do follow a few of those types of accounts). That’s also partly why I still have my account locked, because I don’t use the service in such a way that I see any reason for some random person I have never met to follow me. To me it’s a social space similar to Facebook, and I apply the same rule of  “do I (or would I if you lived nearby) hang out with you in real life?” before I friend or follow someone.

It strikes me that all this kind of silly stuff we post to Twitter is probably what people who talk on the phone a lot talk about. Despite the fact that I will post it on the Internet, I still won’t pick up the phone and call any of my friends to discuss these kinds of little things.