Earlier today I set up a Twitter account (CheshireOcelot, if you want to know). I had created one four years ago for a couple weeks as part of a class on computer mediated communication (the same class that prompted the creation of this blog, in fact), but I deleted the account a few weeks later. Before I write or say anything, I always ask myself, “Is this worth sharing? Will my audience be informed, delighted, or moved?” In 140 characters, the answer is almost always “No.”
Now, even then I realised that those who get the most out of Twiter use it primarily to follow interesting people and share links to quality content, rather than to inform others that I’m currently eating lunch, going to bed, at the urinal, or otherwise leave people in despair by overdramatising meaningless statements. However, at the time, not many people used Twitter, making this somewhat theoretical. Four years later, now that everyone but me has an account, I figured I may as well hop on board, though it did take the catalyst of my little sister joining for me to follow.
Facebook presented a similar case. I joined in 2006, but deactivated my account after a couple months, and not having an account was a point of pride for me. By 2010, though, I caved in. Almost everyone I knew expected me to have an account, so much so that I missed a couple events that I’d have liked to go to because the invitation was sent via FaceBook. The specific catalyst was a friend’s birthday; for some other reason she had called me that January day, and happened to ask why I hadn’t shown up for her party. Of course, I hadn’t heard anything about it, and she said, “I sent the invitations through Face- oh yeah…”
I was similarly late to get my own cell phone, laptop, iPhone, and current-gen video game console (PlayStation 3), but I’ll save those stories for later. As for Twitter, I don’t know what I’ll do with it. I doubt I’ll post much, but I’m already following several other people, so probably I’ll just use it for news and such.
I do wonder, though, how many people besides me join these things not because they have a use for them but simply out of peer pressure.