“What’s your name?
“What’s your name? I’ll follow you.” In the past this would have been taken as a candid admission of planned future stalking but in today’s digital age it is a common and socially acceptable question relating to the social media outlet that is Twitter.
Having joined Twitter myself after taking my Maths A-Level to rant with everyone else who took it about the fact that it was absurdly difficult, I am a self-confessed Twitter addict. Rather than tweeting every two seconds, as those people are exceptionally annoying, I am addicted in the way that when switching on my laptop and going onto the Internet, it is vital to my well-being that I login (alongside Facebook, iTunes, Tumblr… in fact, I’m not sure how I ever get anything done) and stay logged in until I switch off my laptop, at which point I will be alternating between Facebook and Twitter on my phone.
Unfortunately, Twitterholics Anonymous has yet to catch on and so after wondering exactly what caused Twitter to really take off, I am sharing my musings about what I think makes Twitter so popular (with over six hundred million active registered users) and asking the eternal question that is: what is the point of Twitter?
What isn’t the point of Twitter?
To start off, it must be made clear that the point of Twitter simply cannot be to tweet every second about the minute changes happening in your life. Having seen tweets such as: “So hungry”. Then a minute later: “Eating a sandwich, but so thirsty.” Then followed by: “Can’t find any juice”. Ten seconds later: “Seriously, need some juice.” Two hours later: “Still cannot believe I couldn’t find juice earlier.”
To all of these people: exactly what are you hoping is going to happen? Do you imagine someone who is also eating a sandwich will retweet you? Or perhaps you’re hoping someone will reply offering to drop off some juice. Or better still, someone will favourite it because they too are in the exact same position, and this will lead to you having a lengthy conversation about the pros and cons of juice which is all you really wanted, and they may end up being your soulmate and you will agree on the perfect beverages you want at your wedding.
Unfortunately, this seems extraordinarily unlikely unless, of course, your life is a romantic comedy directed by Richard Curtis.
So, if not to voice concerns about juice, what is the point of Twitter? Several ideas come to mind: a popularity contest to see how many followers you can get, this is somewhat similar to how many Facebook friends you have. Is it to keep up to date with what’s happening in the lives of your favourite celebrities?
Or is it simply a version of Facebook that happened to catch on, tweeting being like statuses, sharing being retweeting, both allowing the posting of links and photos and being able to direct message followers/friends?
Others have suggested it may be a better version of Facebook since it truly popularised the hashtag trend, and the character limit means that people are more inclined to read tweets rather than Facebook statuses which can sometimes be as long as essays.
Personally, I cannot quite understand the aim of trying to obtain as many followers as possible, why would you follow people you don’t know and then have their tweets clogging up your home page? It’s like finding out snippets about someone else’s life, except you have no idea who they are. How bizarre that you would want to follow a whole lot of strangers to simply get a follow back.
Staying updated about the lives of celebrities makes much more sense since Twitter is the closest fans can really get to interacting with celebrities aside from meeting them in reality which can be difficult. However, the comparisons to Facebook seem most intriguing. The similarities between the two social networking sites is actually astounding, dressed up in different ways with different words the two actually share the very essence of social networking.
Twitter vs. Facebook
Particularly recently with the reports that Twitter may be replacing the retweeting button with “sharing” has caused some controversy as there are concerns it’s morphing into Facebook. I can’t understand why people seem so against the idea, retweeting is essentially the same as sharing.
It seems that the word “sharing” is taboo because it’s already been taken by Facebook. It simply proves the point that Twitter is a version of Facebook (perhaps explaining its popularity, there’s no doubt that there is something magical about Facebook that has turned it into a phenomenon and so anything relatively similar has a chance at the same level of success) and performs the same sort of social functions.
So, what is the point?
Where has that left me in trying to understand the point of Twitter? On a tick box form, I would select “all of the above”. The point of Twitter is essentially the same as Facebook. It provides excellent grounds for procrastination in today’s society because it provides everything anyone could possibility want from a social media outlet. Having combined the same ingredients as Facebook it has therefore achieved a huge level of success. Retweeting, celebrity updates, ranting about juice, talking to friends. Which one is it?
What’s the point of it? My final answer: anything you want it to be and all of the above, and that’s what makes it so popular.
What do you think the point is of Twitter? Let us know in the comments below!