The Case for Twitter

Lately, I have become addicted to Twitter. I’m not sure what that makes me. A twit? A twitteholic? A twathead? [insert your own clever joke here]

I never understood the utility of Twitter until I started using it. My impression was that Twitter was just a bunch of people sharing every irrelevant detail of their mundane lives. For the most part, that is true. To make my point, here are some tweets I just found randomly.

“It’s time to go hardcase with all of my luggage.”

“Woohoo, clothes ironed. Sadly, I’m not watching another episode of House because I had to do that (plus otherwise get ready)…boo.”

“Micah just bought me 5 packages of my foundation because it’s being “discontinued” :) #besthubbyever !!”

Why would someone think that anyone would want to know this? It seemed like a ultimate service for the narcissistic,* the very definition of “overshare”.

Then, China Law Blog wrote a post on 20 people to follow on Twitter that give insights into business in China. It had never occurred to me that Twitter could be used to get information from people you didn’t know. My social media use to that point was limited to people I had met. Now I could see what the people I wish I knew are thinking, reading, and doing. I started over a year ago, and my use has been steadily increasing. Now I’m hooked. Twitter has become one of my primary news sources.

Twitter is the best way to get information you never knew you wanted. Just by following a few people or institutions that share your interests, you get information that is instant and overwhelming in quantity. If you want to know what people think about a topic, you can run a search and see what people all over the world are saying. It is like tapping into the collective consciousness of humanity. The potential implications of this resource are limitless.

I have taken not only to following, but actively tweeting as well. I mostly tweet news articles or blog entries about politics, finance, economics, and entrepreneurship. It makes me feel empowered to disseminate information that I think other people should know. I know my tweeting has negligible effect, but for the sort of broad policy issues I’m concerned about, its one of the only things I can do. I don’t post these sorts of things on Facebook because it seems impolite to impose politics into a friendly conversation, so I appreciate having another outlet.

Personal interaction is better done on Facebook, or better yet, in person. Twitter is for interacting with the world of people you don’t know, and the ability to do so is one of the most exciting things Web 2.0 has brought us.

*So says the person who wants people to read what he thinks about Twitter. I also have my fair share of totally irrelevant tweets.