I was recently a little surprised to realise that I have now been a member of Twitter for over two years and, in honour this fact and of Twitter’s recent fifth birthday, I’ve decided to dedicate a couple of posts to this divisive little thing.
I love Twitter for many reasons, some of which are dreadfully shallow – I love to follow the celebrities. I’ll be upfront and state that I do love my celebs, so much so that I used to be a fan-letter-writer. I used to write off, hoping to hear back from my favoured celeb, perhaps sending a photo or flyer to sign, but very often nothing, just getting pleasure from sending a letter to someone I admired. More often than not I heard nothing back, or my photo came back unsigned, but I thought this was fair enough given the volume of mail people received. Hey, I wasn’t bitter and was happy to move on. I’ve also been known to autograph-hunt in the past, but that’s another post entirely!
Twitter is a whole new ballgame in contacting celebs. A few clicks and you can be following the day to day life of your favourite celeb, from people everyone knows, to those you know of but your friends don’t. I follow celebs across the whole spectrum, from Stephen Fry (2,387,492 followers) to Frances Ruffelle (1,851 followers) and regard it as a privilege to do so. It’s a level of access to celebrities that has not really been possible before without joining a fan club and it is entirely free to all. That’s not to say it’s not open to abuse, but more about that in tomorrow’s post.
I also love Twitter for introducing me to new things. I have heard about quite a few new books recently that I don’t think I would have discovered on my own, and have even obtained proof copies of some of them from the publishers – again totally for free. OK, publishers give away review copies of books to market them, but without Twitter I certainly would never have benefited from that.
I have also been introduced to new people through using Twitter. While I follow a lot of celebs, I also now follow ordinary people who have been suggested to me. Follow Friday (#ff) has allowed me to discover like-minded people and I am now aware of a number of other mummy and daddy bloggers who are writing about things relevant to me and whose writing I now read often.
Twitter has also allowed me to discover some new ideas and organisations and people that espouse them. I have pretty much always been an atheist, but had not been aware of the British Humanist Association, an organisation which works for non-religious people and I now follow them, along with various scientific skeptics and people working to promote scientific ideas.
I am quite the comper and Twitter is a great place to feed this addiction. It is full of companies and bloggers running competitions and giveaways and, in most cases, all you need to do is retweet their message to enter. It’s very simple and yet I’ve won several prizes in the past two years and only recently won a website subscription worth £150. Ok, it clogs up the timeline of people who follow you, but it’s surely a small price to pay?
Although I love Twitter for all these reasons, it has quite recently shown what a useful tool it can be in bringing information from Egypt, Bahrain and Libya to the attention of the world and has allowed people to share the extent of the devastation wrought by the earthquake and Tsunami in Japan. Would pictures, video and messages have been seen so quickly using traditional media? Comic Relief have used Twitter to help them raise millions to continue their good work by auctioning tweets and follows through TwitRelief and by reinforcing their message everyday. I saw tweets about Sian O’Callaghan only a day after her disappearance and similarly Jesse Jones – if only these tweets could have helped bring a happier ending to their tragic cases.
So whether it be for shallow reasons, for marketing or for important causes and messages, I really love Twitter and would be interested to hear what people think. Do you love it, or hate it? Do you see the appeal or not really have an opinion?
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post: Twitter: Why I Hate It…