How and why I Twitter: part 2

By kate on December 3rd, 2007

I’d like to try to explain, to those of you who don’t twitter, why it is so engaging.

I can look down the list of recent twitters and quickly absorb what everyone is saying (because twitters are so short). It is a very efficient way to keep up with a large number of people. When I check Twitter, I feel like I am laying my hands on the humming, vibrating threads of my network. I can palpably feel the buzz and my connection with everyone.

Imagine a conversation you might have if you ran into someone you used to work with. It would most likely cover very general subjects and vague feelings. Even if you like the person a lot, there is too much ground to cover to make for a meaningful conversation. On the other hand, when I run into my former colleagues (the ones who are on Twitter or Facebook), instead of blandly asking, “how are you?” I can ask, “did you ever get your scooter fixed?” or “how’s Timmy’s wrist?” or “tell me more about that new restaurant you tried last week.”

Paradoxically, it seems that it is the minutiae of life, the day-to-day details, that allow you to get to know someone better. They build up, one mundane detail at a time, into a multi-dimensional picture of someone that can’t be built any other way. Even if you don’t get the full picture from a twitter, you can see if someone is feeling up or down. (For example, if someone was dumped, they might just say “I’m bummed” or “having a tough night.”) You can twitter back to offer encouragement, commiseration, information, or celebration. If you feel so inclined, you can contact them in a longer format (email, phone call, etc.) to discuss something in more depth.

I also love the broadcast aspect of Twitter. For example, I can quickly send out a request for information to my network of friends. Once I had forgotten a word and it was driving me nuts, so I twittered, “what is the name of the area in a department store between the first set of doors and the second set of doors?” It wasn’t long before one of my friends reminded me it was called the vestibule.

Many times, Twitter is the first place I’ll hear about breaking news. I read the newspaper once a day, and keep up with a bunch of blogs when I can, but I check Twitter all day long, when I’m home and when I’m out, because it’s so fast to read.

It is possible to follow any number of celebrities (especially the internet ones) on Twitter, as well as nonhuman twitterers and other distractions, but just like the blogs I read, I generally keep it to the people I know in person. That’s partially because I don’t have a lot of time, but mainly because I use Twitter and blogs to enhance my personal relationships, the ones that exist outside of the computer as well as within. As a stay-at-home parent, nurturing my network is extra important because I don’t see people as often. And Twitter is an invaluable tool for enriching my friendships.

Check back tomorrow for some technical details about how I’ve made everything work for me.

Filed under: meta, relationships, technology
« How and why I Twitter: part 1 How and why I Twitter: Part 3 »

One Response to “How and why I Twitter: part 2”

  1. Why I flipped to Twitter » Bogle’s Blog Says:

    […] like Kate’s Why I Twitter and Alan’s Twitter is way better than Facebook also helped me understand what was going […]

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