A toast to Twitter! To mark the occasion of my 10th Twitterversary on Thursday 17 January 2019, here are five things I love about Twitter.
My 10th Twitterversary is this week. A decade is a long time in life. But it honestly feels like the blink of an eye in Twitter terms. Twitter has remained ever fresh for me.
I first signed up for Twitter on Saturday 17 January 2009. As was the case for so many folks back then, I was inspired to take the plunge by one particularly prominent early adopter, Stephen Fry.
I kept seeing mentions of something called “Twitter” in Mr Fry’s blog posts, and decided to investigate. I had no idea just how much Twitter would have to offer, what an impact it would have on my life. I certainly had no idea that as a direct result of joining Twitter, I would actually get to meet Mr Fry himself later that same year (that tale is recounted in A Tweet from Sir) nor receive a tweet from him five years later.
Twitter is just right for me. Twitter is just a medium. There is no right way or wrong way to use it. There were 326 million monthly active Twitter users in the third quarter of 2018. There’s no reason to doubt that each of those 326 million users gets something entirely individual out of their Twitter use.*
Five things I love about Twitter
Here are five great qualities of Twitter for me:
- Twitter enables connections and friendships. For me, my decade on Twitter has opened up a channel of instantaneous, free communication with people all over the world. Twitter is a daily habit. Every day, I can bump into and connect with people from anywhere and everywhere. With any one of these lovely folks, I can interact, shoot the breeze, share knowledge and music or make silly jokes. I feel truly privileged that so many connections I’ve made via Twitter have blossomed into true, lasting friendships, both real world and virtual. By real world and virtual I mean that there are some Twitter friends I now know socially in real life, and others who – due to geographic distance – I may well never get to meet in real life. Both types of friendship are equally valuable to me. If you are a Twitter friend – whether in real life or virtual – thank you for being a friend to me.
- Twitter can bring insight. Twitter moves at the speed of thought. The conversation is always evolving, always changing. Narrow parameters can help breed ultimate creativity. Over my decade a-tweeting, the character limit on tweets has doubled from 140 to 280. When I first heard this change was coming, I thought it might ruin Twitter’s “thing.” But it definitely has not. It seems that it is the network enabled by Twitter that matters. The exact characteristics of the messaging it enables are elastic, ever evolving. Indeed, 280 characters is still not that much. The tight character limit on Twitter demands concise expression and sharpens the mind to share and to seek out insights expressed as succinctly as possible.
- Twitter is psychic. I wish I could remember the exact phrasing, but in the olden days, Twitter had a promotional page that included a quotation on the almost-psychic level of insight and interaction that Twitter enables (Words to the effect of “the closest thing to mind-reading I’ve ever seen”… If anyone out there knows the exact wording, please let me know!). Just yesterday (Friday 10 January 2019), a friend DM’d me to let me know that something I’d written had expressed the same ideas as a character in a novel on which they are working, almost word for word. A serendipitously psychic moment, and by no means the first.
- Twitter is perfect for introverts. I am a card-carrying introvert. Twitter is the perfect electronic communications medium for me. It’s all about the written word, in short doses. It provides me sufficient thinking time betwixt tweets to think out exactly what I would probably be too tongue-tied to say in person. For more of my views on Twitter means for those like me, please read Introversion, crunchy frogs & Quiet.
- Twitter creates an open, level world. Through Twitter you can have access to and interact with people whose paths you might otherwise never have dreamed of being able to cross. I genuinely can’t believe the heroes of mine with whom I’ve had (admittedly minor) interactions because of Twitter. As mentioned above, through Twitter I got to meet Stephen Fry back in 2009, and received a tweet from him in 2014. Ice-T last year captured perfectly the unprecedented nature of this open, level world that Twitter has created.
“It dawned on me yesterday that TWITTER is the 1st open platform for White, Black and people of every Race,Religion and Sex. To speak Openly.. At as safe distance, and mostly anonymously.This is a very unique experience… You get to see how people REALLY feel. Love and lots of HATE”
What living hero of yours would you most like to get in touch with? Twitter might just be able to make it happen.
If you tweet, what does Twitter mean to you? When is your own Twitterversary, and what have been the highlights of your time on Twitter so far? Please do get in touch and let me know!
A toast to Twitter. I cannot wait to see what my next decade of tweeting has in store!
UPDATE (16 January 2018): How Twitter has touched the lives of others
It seems that Twitter has had a still more profound effect on the lives of others than it has on mine.
I am amazed and delighted to report that not one, not two, but three people have responded to this blog post to say they met their spouse or partner on via Twitter!
First, Tim Scott (who met his other half – Gem Dale – via this medium of 280 characters or fewer)…
Second, Twitter was how Natalie Ellis came to meet her husband…
And third, Ahrani Logan first met her husband and business partner Brett Haase through the medium of Twitter!
I’ve also heard from some people whose opinion of Twitter chimes with mine. For example, Edoardo Volpe says:
“It amazes me how @twitter enables real and meaningful connections and communities of pactice. People feel in a safe and informal setting to express their opinions and share insights.”
Twitter is definitely not for everyone, though. I am humbled that Ami Rao has written this deeply thoughtful blog post on her feelings towards social media, in response to my 10th Twitterversary post, entitled Letter to a Tweeter. https://amiraoblog.wordpress.com/2019/01/13/letter-to-a-tweeter/
Please do consider giving Ami’s words a read, and – if you are on Twitter – perhaps giving her a follow, too.
* Or at least the ones that aren’t bots. Once AI gets more of a foothold on social media, we might be able to get a better read on what our more robotic-minded contemporaries think and feel. Let us hope they look kindly upon us, their inferior fleshy forebears.
Congratulations on your Twitterversary Michael. Your thoughts on heroes reminded me that I followed Brain Wilson, Beach Boys founder and musical guru, the day he joined Twitter and he followed me back immediately. A hero of mine since my early teens, living on another continent and living in a very different to me. That’s Twitter for me. Here’s to your next 10 years.
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Great to hear from you, Richard… and wow, Brian Wilson – now that really is something of which to be proud! On a related note, have you ever seen the fantastic Brian Wilson-related film Love and Mercy?
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