During my travels around our community today, I came across an interesting post on Lockergnome. The author discusses how he signed up for Twitter in order to attempt to figure out the hype. At one point, he states that:
By composing short, 140-character messages, you can share with the world that you are standing in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles, eating a tuna sandwich, or watching your dog chase its tail. If compulsively posting such digital drivel is not enough of an incentive to get out of bed in the morning—which is, of course, another event you’ll want to share with others – you can also follow the mundane activities of other peoples’ uneventful lives – including neuron-numbing celebritwits. At no time in the history of interpersonal communication has the phrase “Get a life” been more appropriate.
After a two-month immersion on Twitter, he still doesn’t quite “get it”, according to his closing paragraph. He wants to understand why “anybody would feel compelled to share the excruciatingly tedious minutia of their lives… (and) why anybody would want to read it”. This is our chance to show Mr. Modem what it is that he is missing.
Sure, there are plenty of mind-numbing tweets posted every nth of a second, all day, every day. However, there are also an equal number of informative and important things spread across Twitter, as well. Each day, Twitter is becoming more of a news outlet than the actual newspapers and stations. Word about a tragedy, accident, death or even a missing child will spread all across Twitter (and become a trending topic) much quicker than the same stories could possibly be posted to a place such as CNN or MSNBC.
Twitter is also used in very unconventional ways to spread a message, and raise awareness for a good cause. During last year’s Gnomedex conference, the attendees used their reach on Twitter to raise over $3700.00 to help send a young Cambodian woman to college. Right now, we have a good friend of our community, Drew, who is using Twitter to blame his cancer for things, thus raising awareness and money for the Livestrong Foundation.
In my eyes, Twitter is a mixed bag. It is fun, definitely. You can post short, silly little messages on a whim if you choose. Five seconds later, you can turn around and post about a life-changing event – one that may impact many thousands of people. It’s not what Twitter “is” or “is not” – it’s what you choose to do with it that makes the difference.
My challenge to all of you is this: if you are on Twitter (or have been in the past) – how do you answer Mr. Modem’s question? Leave a follow-up comment here, and let us know if you feel that you are Twittering – or Frittering – your time away.
Of course, while you’re pondering the answer to this question, be sure to check out what others around you have been up to today.