A little over a decade ago, no one would have thought that Twitter, a social media platform that limited users to posting their message in 140 characters or less, had a chance of possessing any staying power. Yet it remains viable to this day, boasting over 300 million active users. How can this little blue bird continue to have such an effect on global culture and points of view?
TWITTER AND POLITICS
Nowhere has Twitter’s light touch carried more of a heavy weight than it has in the realm of the political. It has been used to send messages both about natural disasters such as the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and the many revolutionary activities that occurred throughout the Middle East during the so-called Arab Spring. Causes such as $blacklivesmatter and $MeToo have gained steam via this platform as well. Since President Trump was elected in 2016, Twitter has become his unofficial mouthpiece and has frequently been the first vehicle he uses to introduce new and controversial policies.
TWITTER AND PUBLIC OPINION
Twitter provides an ideal place for gauging people’s thoughts on any number of subjects. However, the results are often biased since the followers who answered the questions often already have similar beliefs. In this respect, Twitter polls can be likened to preaching to the choir.
TWITTER AND BUSINESS
No longer do customers need to spend time on hold in order to register a complaint or, less frequently, to give positive feedback. Today, most companies have a Twitter page on which messages can be left in an instant. Since they can be viewed by all visitors, this motivates retailers to respond quickly and just as publicly. In many cases, this new form of customer service is not only more effective but also less expensive.
TWITTER AND JOURNALISM
Twitter is rapidly taking its place right next to established wire services as a source that reporters pay attention to and tap for the most up-to-date information. For example, the first indication that there had been a raid in which Osama bin Laden was captured was tweeted by a local IT specialist. Even so, it is crucial that anyone committed to spreading truthful information to the public must verify it with sources other than social media before disseminating it.
TWITTER AND RELATIONSHIPS
Unlike other social media platforms that require users to accept people as friends before they can be followed, anyone can “stalk” another person on Twitter. This gives them an intimate glance into everything the other party is posting, including details about their activities and personal relationships. Although this is particularly off-putting for some, many younger users are not overly concerned about breaches of privacy.
TWITTER AND CELEBRITIES
This same fast and loose ethos occurs with celebrities. Fans can follow and interact with them directly without interference from managers and handlers. This is true of everyone from stars like Ariana Grande and Kim Kardashian to Los Angeles musician and entrepreneur Nick Gross on Twitter. Some stars are more than happy to show their authentic selves, warts and all, to the Twittersphere while others use this social media site as a vehicle to advertise a slick and carefully plotted persona that might diverge wildly from their true self.
Whether you are spreading the word about an uprising or planning a dinner with friends, Twitter can make social interaction fast and easy. However, it certainly is not perfect. Thoughts must be brief, and misunderstandings are frequent. Even so, this little social media platform has outlasted its detractors and gone on to change the way the world thinks, interacts and feels.