My love / hate relationship with Twitter
|May 6, 2012||Posted by Shanti Das under satire, technology|
I got Twitter!
That’s right: I gave in to temptation and joined 175 million other registered users. Not exactly earth-shattering news I know, but after months of refusing to succumb to the social phenomenon an irresistible combination of desperation to avoid revision and curiosity overcame me, and I “tweeted” for the first time.
It was a gloomy Monday afternoon. The pattering of rain was significantly audible and doing little to get my dithering train of thought back on the track towards, ironically, the hydrological cycle revision I really needed to be doing. We’d run out of teabags and were having sandwiches for tea. It had been a long day.
Never before had I felt the need to broadcast every detail of my life to the world at large, and even if I ever did suddenly have the urge to share the fact I’d just eaten spaghetti bolognaise for dinner, writing it as a status on Facebook would usually quench the desire sufficiently. Only when confronted with the painful prospect of spending the looming evening drawing mind-maps, writing notes, and creating flash cards on the dullest subject imaginable did the world of tweeting, trending topics and hash tags have sudden allure. And so, tempted by the prospect of having a channel through which to present the workings of my brain and heart in fewer than 140 characters, I set out on a mission to catch up with the rest of the world and throw myself forcefully back into the midst of the social hubbub. I got Twitter.
In this sense, “got” is a loose term. By “got,” I actually mean “began to use” because, in reality, I “got” Twitter more than three years ago, before it was cool (because I’m so ahead of the times). After three years and a grand total of (drum roll please) zero tweets, however, I deemed my account redundant and stowed my login information far, far away in a dimly-lit corner of my brain, buried under piles of more important things. Fortunately Twitter had thought to create a handy “forgot password?” page, which came to my rescue and saved me wasting my time creating a new account and verifying it, blah blah blah, during the course of which my intrigue probably would have subsided. I had been registered for an eternity and never before felt compelled to use the networking tool, but procrastination was at its peak: I found myself inspired by these previously unreached levels of unproductivity.
And after almost two weeks, surprisingly but in a sense disappointingly, I have to admit that I do love it a little more than expected. It is true that the daunting concept of hash tagging did confuse me in the same way that a child finds themself disorientated and overwhelmed on their first day of school, but after investigating further I realised that it’s not actually that difficult an idea to grasp. It took me a few attempts to work out that you can’t put spaces between the words of the phrase you wish to hash tag, but once I’d broken this barrier I felt well and truly a worthy member of the Twitter community. Now – 12 days, 99 tweets and not many followers later – my initial excitement has subsided but the desire to share uninteresting, unimportant and unexciting snippets of information about my life remains.
I don’t know what it is that is so brilliant about Twitter. It could be the mundane yet occasionally rapturously humorous life updates that relentlessly flood my homepage that make it so frustratingly addictive, but I think it is more likely the confusing and intriguing way in which people who are so quiet in person seem to come to life behind a computer screen. Social networking sites such as Twitter give the more reserved among us a place and way to share their hilarious wittiness, and it’s brilliant: I feel like I have come to understand people more in five minutes of scrolling through their tweets than in the five years I’ve actually known them. The inner-workings of a brain dissimilar to my own prove to be compelling reading, and for this I hate Twitter. Twitter, I hate you. I hate you for being so bloody fantastic at distracting me from the more important things in life, like tidying my bedroom and putting my CDs into alphabetical order. And revising for next week’s exams!
Every free bus-journey minute that would have been spent observing the back of someone’s head or thinking about important things is now occupied by refreshing the news feed and filling my brain with details of how bad or good or funny or stressful everyone’s day / week was / is going to be. As fascinating as that can be, it’s a bit of a shame that staring at screens has taken precedence over gazing out of a fogged window on a school morning. Although, with Twitter, you can learn so much about people and the world with no effort required – surely we’re missing something? While we’re busy reading and sharing details about our lives, we forget that each moment we spend tweeting about everything that is going on is a moment we could be spending doing the things that are actually worth tweeting about. That or revising.
A way to waste time? Definitely. A really good way to waste time? Without a doubt. A way to help you get into university? Not quite so sure about that. I have only one regret, losing my Twitter virginity before exams, because, regardless of the fact I know it really is a waste of time, it’s pretty addictive. The daunting reality of the fast-approaching exams hurtling ever-nearer has turned the majority of students to quivering wrecks. And so the genius part of my brain, which probably should have been revising something like arid geomorphology at the time, decided that the best thing for me (top procrastinator as it is) to do was to become an avid “tweeter” two weeks before the most important exams of my life to date. I am honestly clueless as to why I would ever think it a good idea.
Still, as much as I hate it, I know that there is no going back now: Twitter has got me nestled comfortably under its wing and I’m not flying the nest quite yet.