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I first joined Twitter on New Year’s Eve last year, and didn’t really think much of it early on. One year later, it has become a key networking tool for me. 2009 was the year Twitter exploded in popularity, mostly because of Oprah and the legions of celebrities that joined.
I have been lucky enough to get to know many incredible people from all walks of life. Some, I’ve even had the chance to get to know in real-life, and have been a great source of advice, wisdom, and friendship. Many are doctors, medical students, and scientists, but I’ve also gotten to know people who are newscasters, musicians, bloggers, and just generally interesting and inspiring people. As a rule, I don’t generally follow celebrities unless they have something vaguely interesting to say.
Twitter is great, but not perfect. It is still plagued by spammers, following people en masse, trying to hawk their products, marketing/entrepreneurial skills, or naked photos. There is no adequate mechanism in place to remove them before they start following people, so removing them becomes the responsibility of the user (and is a painfully slow process). It would also be nice if their “Suggested Users” function did not include just celebrities/other accounts with large followings. I’d like to follow people who may actually interact with me on some meaningful level.
While people may tend to think Twitter could supplant Facebook or vice versa (Facebook has enabled the @ function in their statuses possibly in an attempt to imitate Twitter), I think they can coexist. What I think (and this view is generally shared across many of my friends) is that Facebook is best reserved for keeping in touch with your close friends, while Twitter is great a way to meet new people.
So all in all, I’m pretty happy with my experience so far. I hope the next year brings new friendships and contacts who will help me achieve my goals, and perhaps I, theirs.
If you would like to follow me, my Twitter username is @sospokesaroj (original I know).
I think, at first, I wasn’t a huge fan of Twitter. It seemed like it was Facebook stripped down to just the status updates. Yet, I’ve slowly come to like Twitter after having used it for somewhere around two months. Really though, you either love it, or you hate it. I think I may love it.
Twitter represents the next best thing and the next worst thing as far as technology goes.
First, the best. It takes networking to the next level, putting you in contact with people with similar interests (and even opposite interests) more readily than even Facebook. Among my followers, I have many neuroscientists, doctors, bloggers, baristas, and just generally cool people. A lot of their tweets are relevant to my interests, and I gain a lot from my association with them (and I hope the same is true for them). Twitter also introduces new ways to forward interesting tweets (retweet or RT) and categorize them (hashtags #).
Now, the worst. Where AIM started the move to truncate the English language with its lols and rofls and lmaos, Twitter continues it, and then some. Its 140 character limit forces users to be especially clever in how they shorten their words. For someone like me, who prefers writing in (relatively) grammatically-correct, whole sentences, it makes me cringe just a little to see the preponderance of “u” over “you” and “2″ over “too.”
Then, there are the Twitterers themselves.
Looking at a snapshot of tweets from any given period of time gives you a wide range of people from all parts of the globe, spanning a wide range of ages, languages, and different occupations. It is, quite literally, a slice through the collective consciousness of humanity (at least the percentage who is on Twitter). There are many different types of people who Twitter, at least as far as I can ascertain (all attempts at clever names are my own creation):
1. The Twitter whores: The ones who voraciously seek out followers and update every 5-10 min, mostly with unbelievably useless nonsense. The number of people they follow far outstrips the number who follow them. They may or may not be trying to promote a website. They also are probably permanently welded to their Blackberrys.
2. Passive Twitterers: The ones who update, but not very often, and acquire followers with the same intensity of a tumbleweed blowing through the desert. Most of their followers are Twitter whores.
3. “Mountains from molehill” Twitterers: These are the ones who update often, mostly making a big deal about the mind-numbingly boring details from their lives. They may or may not seek out followers. Most come to them, many of them are Twitter whores.
4. Genuine Twitterers: Those who tweet only with curious or interesting links or facts, seeking to enlighten those who may read them.
5. Organization Twitterers: Institutions, schools, government agencies (ex. NYC MTA) who tweet updates of relevance to those associated with them in some way (ex. those who travel by the MTA).
6. Celebetwits: Celebrities who may or may not be writing their own tweets. They have legions of followers, many of whom are under the delusion that they and the celebrity in question are actually friends. Some, though, actually are right.
I am not sure where I fall (though I’m definitely not 6 and I’d like to think I’m not 1). I probably vacillate between 3 and 4, sometimes leaning toward 3 since my life just isn’t that interesting on a regular basis. The same goes for most grad students I suppose.
So it looks like Twitter is here to stay, and won’t go the way of the dodo. I’m curious to see what evolution (if any) Twitter will undergo next.
P.S. If you’d like to follow my updates on Twitter, the feed is on the left side of this blog. Otherwise, you can access my tweets here.