Very often I find myself defending social media to my friends, colleagues and sometimes even my students. It can be easily accused—and rightly so—of being full of brazen self-promoters, marketing maniacs, and plenty of naked people who spam our walls and timelines with some rather disturbing content. BUT, that is not reason enough to ignore the countless advantages of this 21st century phenomenon that has permeated to practically every part of the world and has revolutionized nations as well as individual lives in equal measure.
I’m not going to wax eloquent about social media in general. Today, I’ll tell you why I have become so addicted to twitter and what it has done for me. Not everybody knows this, but I joined twitter in 2008. Back then, it was not as popular as it is today and after a few months of posting random thoughts, reading some rather boring tweets and watching some crazy celebrities trending world wide, I deactivated my account and went back to Facebook, Orkut (does anybody still use it?) and e-mail.
Then in 2010, I decided to give twitter another shot and saw that it was inundated by tweets recording the volatile situations in the Middle East – that actually captivated my attention as each day I was privy to more and more information from all across the Arab world. People were distraught. The tweets came in torrents and with every post on my timeline, I was more and more affected by what was going on in countries all around the Arab world. I was fascinated by the thought of being able to have firsthand, real-time information from people who were experiencing these historic events. It is now common knowledge how those situations escalated and exploded over time and why so much credit has been given to the “Twitter Revolution” that made those uprisings possible and successful.
I learned quickly that twitter was much more than just people posting random thoughts. I now look to twitter as an endless source of information from journalists, bloggers, activists, entertainers and even my own friends. No matter what topic interests me on any given day, I can find more information than I have time to seek out – all in a matter of seconds. I can spend time simply absorbing information available to me at my fingertips anytime and anywhere.
The community of people who share information via twitter is truly an advantage to people who want to stay informed. Without these people, and their witty, informed and sometimes eccentric tweets, I would not have been so intrigued to keep reading their thoughts in 140 characters or less, and I would not be as involved or as invested in the process as I am today.
How many of you are on twitter? I’d love to hear how you feel. You can find me @sydneydxb ….