It seems like everyone’s all atwitter about, well, Twitter these days. Started in 2006, Twitter is a “micro-blogging” service where users post status updates (called Tweets) that are limited to 140 characters, which answer the question, “What are you doing?” You can also add friends on Twitter by “following” their feeds.
But while you may be thinking, “only status updates? Just 140 characters? Why would people care what I’m doing 400 times a day? I already have a Facebook, thanks,” don’t dismiss Twitter just yet. As a matter of fact, its beauty is in its simplicity.
People use Twitter for everything from updating their friends about their whereabouts (“at the airport- Spring Break Cancun here I come!”) to sharing breaking news and reactions to important events. It’s actually become quite a phenomenon among journalists and media-types. Many will post links to fresh news stories or recent articles they’ve written. It’s easy because you can update Twitter from your cell phone (via text message) or instant messanger, so you can post when you’re on the go.
You can also use Twitter to search for buzzworthy topics–just type in a key phrase (like, “Britney Spears“) in the Search bar at the top of the page and you will uncover thousands of up-to-the-second Tweets about Brit’s latest videos, whereabouts, and sightings. Hell, you can even follow Britney herself! Yes, unlike on Facebook (where etiquette advises against friending people you don’t know), it’s socially acceptable to follow the Twitter feeds of celebrities. Celebs, like journalists, are using Twitter as a means of letting their fans know about new tours and singles in a quick and efficient way. Hey, you may end up learning more intimate details about their lives than you ever would have imagined, like how Diddy enjoys tantric sex (and apparently Twitters in the midst)!
Twitter has already sparked Twestivals and Tweetups. You can Twirt with your boy toy, and if you’ve posted a Tweet that is exactly 140 characters, you’ve scored a Twoosh! But the jury is still out deciding whether Twitter is the “next big thing” or not. ( Jon Stewart actually aired a bit this week debating the very idea.)
I was turned on to Twitter almost a year ago by my tech-savvy friend, and to date I have but a couple dozen Tweets to my name. My problem seems to be that I only have two friends who are seriously into Twitter, and since I see them frequently enough, I have no motivation to actually Tweet other than to archive my own whereabouts and feelings. I do enjoy Twitter for its Search function and I follow a couple of key celebrities and organizations, which is useful. As a writer and a young person, I feel obligated to be aware of the trend, particularly if all those cautionary tales about new media revolutionizing journalism do come true.
So now it’s your turn: if you Twitter, tell us why you do and what you like about it! (Oh, and follow us!) If you don’t, why not?