When it comes to social media, I dabble. I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr, and I like each in its own special way. For accessibility to anyone and everyone though, I can’t help but love Twitter and its 140-character limit the most.
Here’s why: first, celebrities, politicians, academics and everyday people are all on Twitter, which gives you a huge group of people with which to talk and discuss issues. Second, the character limit means that anything you write has to be concise, but it’s still long enough that you can explain thoughts, tell jokes, share information and get angry at people who are wrong on the internet. And third, you can talk about whatever the hell you want and, with only the judicious use of a hashtag or two, connect to the other people around the world talking about that same thing.
Compared to the longstanding social network of Facebook, there’s a casualness about Twitter that makes it much more fun. Although Facebook events are great for catching up with your friends, they also mean that you’re stuck with the same viewpoints and topics a lot of the time. Twitter lets you interact with anyone else who has an account, and lets you search out and find the people who are interesting to you. And although a 140-character tweet sounds like it’d be too short to matter, as always when communicating, it’s the ideas that really make it work.
For the Twitter-newbies out there, here’s a tip: like the rest of the internet, you need to be careful about how far in you want to go. It’s fine to get caught up in #qanda every Monday, but be aware that you might get replies from randoms who disagree with your politics. Having said that, the randoms are often the most interesting people on Twitter. You’re brought together by shared (or conflicting) views on a particular topic and hey, you’ve got someone to talk to.
Be careful with your new friends though. Although internet etiquette is still new for some people, you should probably treat people online with the same respect you would show them when talking face to face: disagree if you want, but politely. There are too many instances of people getting caught up in their anonymity and releasing to the internet a stream of horrible discrimination and madness. Conversely, if you see a tweet you think is pretty great, let the tweeter know.
You want to show your support for your favourite footy team? Go for it. You want to share photos of funny stuff you see in the street? Be my guest. You want to join in on online campaigns by adding your tweets to the crowd? Absolutely. Do you just want to vent about politics, student life, crap stuff on the news or anything else that makes you angry? Let me tell you, if you’re angry (or happy/disappointed/confused/troubled) about it, so is someone else. Twitter gives you access to over one hundred million other active users every month, so go on, give it a go. You might have some fun.
Adam Huttner-Koros tweets at @ATHuttnerKoros.