I can remember a time before we had Twitter and other social media. It used to be that we all communicated via email or through one of the many online messaging services like MSN or AIM. Then there were chat rooms of course, something that has all but died out these days. A/S/L anyone?
These days we are all connected to the wider world via the various social media platforms. I’m sure there can’t be many of us who haven’t dabbled in this phenomenon at some point. Me personally I started on Friends Reunited back in the early 00’s, before progressing onto Myspace, Facebook, Bebo and eventually Twitter in 2009. Eleven years and 21,000 tweets later I’m still there. The others having served their purpose and fallen by the wayside a long time ago.
But what is it that makes me want to keep tweeting?
Well, the sense of community and togetherness is one of the reasons. Unlike the other, more enclosed social platforms, Twitter invites you into the worlds of both friends and complete strangers and allows you to come together as one. Comedian Sarah Millican encourages people to do just that every Christmas with her #Joinin campaign. Where Twitter users connect with each other and provide company and friendship to those who might not be feeling all of the forced festivity and who may be struggling with their own mental wellbeing.
More recently, on a similar note, we heard about Edmund O’Leary. A father of two from Surrey who put out a tweet that read;
“I am not ok. Feeling rock bottom. Please take a few seconds to say hello if you see this tweet. Thank you.”
Within hours, his timeline was filled with over 100,000 replies from strangers and even a few celebrities, all sending their love and support to somebody that they had never even heard of before, let alone met. I have to say, it really touched my heart and provided a welcome relief from all of the doom and gloom of the Coronavirus situation.
I too have benefitted from the accessible nature of Twitter. Many of the people that I consider to be good friends were first engaged with through the social platform. Either because of a shared interest or because they responded to a particular tweet I might have put out.
That’s another great thing about Twitter. The use of hashtags allows people to see what other people are saying about different events. Joining in with the official hashtag for a popular television show for example can really enhance your viewing experience or, at the very least make you smile.
It’s not all rosy in the garden of Twitter though. Trolling is a problem for all social networks but the open-ended nature of Twitter makes it far more prevalent than on its nearest rivals. People can be nasty, especially when they’ve got a screen and the anonymity of a false profile to hide behind. Targeted racism, homophobia and transphobia are all common occurrences on the platform, particularly when it comes to those who might be in the public eye, both in terms of spreading and receiving such extreme views.
Twitter is a powerful platform, for good and for bad. But for me it will always be my ‘go-to’ when it comes to social networking.
Are you a fan of Twitter, or do you prefer a different social network? Can you remember the days before we were so well connected?
I’d love to hear your thoughts below.