It wasn’t love at first sight.
When Twitter first came out, I didn’t get it. I hated having to edit my thoughts down to 140 characters. It seemed stupid and pointless to me. As an INFJ who tends to like to ramble on and analyze everything down to its molecular structure, keeping my thoughts and feelings so constricted seemed impossible and what’s more, it seemed so shallow. I had the idea that Twitter was nothing more than celebrities and other notable people with “verified accounts” “tweeting” about the most inane banalities of their glamorous, perfect, exciting lives–and everyone else just trying to collect as many followers as they could. What could you say in 140 characters? Not much, it seemed. Oh, how wrong I was, but I’ll get to that in a minute.
There might have also been something about its name. “Twitter” and the term “tweet” just seemed so childish and dumb. But after all, a rose by any other name is still a rose.
I gave up on Twitter for awhile out of sheer frustration. I wanted to be able to pontificate and ramble on as long as I pleased. Blogging, of course, allowed me to do that. But when I began to blog, I realized that sharing to Twitter is important in getting more views and exposure. At first, I used it almost exclusively to share my posts, and rarely “tweeted” anything. I still don’t really tweet a whole lot but I’m starting to more than ever before.
It helps you slim down “fat” writing.
I’m finally getting the hang how to use Twitter effectively. It’s a skill you have to learn. I’m actually finding that the art of composing a tweet is a great exercise for writers who tend to write overly descriptive “purple prose,” like I do. In a tweet, it’s entirely possible to still get a lot of “meat” in those 140 characters, but you have to cut out all the “fat.” That’s something most writers can benefit from–getting down to the meat and bones of an issue.
Deep thoughts in 140 characters or less.
Some Twitter uses are masters at composing compelling, interesting, hilarious tweets that actually contain a lot more depth than you’d ever think possible. Some are so good they’ve gone viral. Some are even profound. These tweets become quotable. Sure, Twitter is also a platform for celebrities to blather on mindlessly about their charmed lives and for non-thinking nonfamous Tweeters to comment on the most inane, banal things you can imagine, but for many of us, especially those of us who write, Twitter forces you to think first about what you have to say and say only what is important. You learn to streamline your writing and organize your thoughts in a clear and direct manner. It’s a real skill and it takes time to learn to compose a good tweet.
There’s lots more to love.
There are other things I like about Twitter too. I can’t speak for others, but for me, I don’t have to worry about family members and people from other areas of my life outside my blogging life seeing my tweets (probably because so few people I know IRL even use Twitter). Unfortunately on Facebook and LinkedIn I have that problem (the boundaries of different areas of my life merging together in a most unsettling way), so I can’t always share all my posts on either of those platforms. There also seems to be very little drama on Twitter. Again, maybe that’s just my own experience though. My Twitter followers don’t like wasting their 140 characters to troll someone.
I also like the simplicity of Twitter. It’s a lot easier to use and navigate than Facebook, which has become way too cluttered with apps, digital bells and whistles, ads, invitations for games, too many features, and just way too complicated overall. Twitter has only what you need and that makes it a lot easier to use.
I also like the real time feel of Twitter. You get news and relevant information quicker than on any other social media site. My feed continually supplies me with teasers and links to news stories and articles that are in line with my interests. If the tweet looks compelling, I can click it on and read the whole story, without having to slog through 1,675 badly written words to get the gist of what someone is trying to say. It’s all right there in one or two concise lines and I can scan through my feed and choose what to look at right then and there.
I also like Twitter because it seems my posts get the most views and shares there (outside of Facebook, when I do share articles there, which is only about half the time). I’ve also made more friends on Twitter that share my exact interests more than anywhere else. People are always retweeting your stuff and most of my Twitter followers have found me and my blog that way.
Twitter isn’t just for twits.
I read recently that Twitter is having problems and its growth has been slowing, mostly because people just don’t “get” it. Like I did at first, a lot of people have this idea Twitter is for shallow people with shallow interests. Again, it could be that name, which can be offputting. Facebook continues to grow like a cyber-cancer swallowing up everything in its path, but in my opinion, it’s lost any original attractiveness it may once have had (if it ever had any), and has become something vaguely unpleasant, like a summer cold or a surprise visit from the Jehovah’s Witnesses. I try to avoid it when I can, which isn’t easy to do.
As far as other social media, I think there are limitations to their appeal. I don’t use Pinterest or WhatsApp, I have a Reddit account but don’t really understand how it works, Tumblr is basically just a blogging site (I do share my posts there too), Instagram is for photos, and LinkedIn bores me most of the time and is even more confusing to use than Facebook. Stumble Upon is fun and a great way to share your posts (and they do get views!) and also find articles in line with your interests, but it’s not a social media site in the sense that the others are. If I could only use one social media site, I’d pick Twitter. I hope it’s around forever.