After considerable analysis and mockery (here and here), I have finally joined the Twittering masses. “Masses” is debatable as a term, since, even after Oprah issued her first tweet, the site only claims about 10 million users compared to Facebook’s 200 million worldwide.
Once inside the Twitter echo chamber, it feels like everyone’s life is being revolutionized by the ability to post 140 character status messages. Seriously, though, what’s amazing about Twitter is the contrast between content and form. Users can only post 140 characters, and everyone’s page looks pretty much the same. The “what” varies widely and is completely up for definition. The first Twitter cult member that I met told me Twitter was about sharing “peak experiences”–which I tried for about two days, but wound up feeling like an arms race of cool. Most users seem to use Twitter to share that what their cat ate for dinner last night or to communicate publicly with others (which mostly seems totally boring to me, since I have no idea what they are talking about).
The people I follow, though, tend to be either very focused on a field that interests me (such as blogging strategies or positive psychology) or simply to be interesting people sharing not so much what they are doing but what they are thinking about. As a dilettante, I’m interested in many things: language, gender, quirkyalone- and quirkytogetherness, behavioral changes as a result of technology, community, loneliness, entrepreneurship, and so on. I’m using Twitter not so much to talk about “what I’m doing” but about “what I’m interested in” and to share those links with others. I feel much more permission to be promiscuous in my link-sharing than on Facebook because that’s what Twitter is all about. For now, my Twitter fling is helping me to identify what what I want to write about, the ideas that truly capture and intrigue me. The fact that you have to sum up who you are in 160 characters in the profile has been interesting too–editing always forces you to think harder about what’s most salient about who you are.
I’m not evangelizing for the service and don’t want to be responsible for anyone’s diminishing attention span. But, if you have already succumbed, you can follow me here.