Why I Use Twitter

I have multiple Twitter accounts and I use them for different purposes.  When people whine that they don’t know why people use Twitter, I’m shocked at how little creativity goes into that statement. Why wouldn’t you use Twitter? There are so many ways to use it! I feel similar affection for Tumblr, which is like a happy medium between Twitter and WordPress. Twitter is like a conversation and mostly text-based (for pictures you have to click on links), where Tumblr is like a tumbled heap of media and words– there’s a bit more content but it feels like there’s less “face to face” interaction.

The Twitter accounts that I have serve different purposes. I have three major accounts:

@crocus is my oldest account and it’s private (no, seriously, very private, so unless you like rejection don’t request to follow it). With this account I communicate regularly with about 20 friends. By “regularly” I mean that I have had the account for three years and have over 17,500 tweets, which means I tweet about once every two hours. This Twitter feed is like a delayed group chat, where my friends (who are also poets and predominately female) and I talk about poetry and other things, worry, blow off steam, etc.  It’s a great support system.

@looktouch is my public, personal account for engaging in poetry discussions.

@subclassz On this feed I talk to other librarians including fledgling librarians from my MLS program.

And then I have smaller, project-oriented accounts, which have fallen by the wayside. Two are:

@minilibrary was an idea I had while I was bored during class one day and thinking about small poems. I wanted to make a library of poems that would fit in a single tweet. But then I got caught up with other ideas and it didn’t get very far.

@BuffaloArtsDL was the Twitter feed for a digital library we made last semester, but in the end we had severe problems with the server and couldn’t upload everything for public consumption. We still have plans to work on it (and by “we” I mean one of the team members, artist Donna White) but not any time soon– I think the project burned everybody out.

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13 Responses to Why I Use Twitter

  1. Matt says:

    i love it when someone new to twitter says “i still don’t get twitter”, and you look at their number of tweets and it’s like “3″. hmm, gee, i wonder why you don’t get it. maybe because you haven’t actually used it yet?

  2. If you don’t know anyone who uses Twitter I’d imagine that it’s boring, like when you’re on FB but no one else you know is (which at this point must only apply to the over-70 crowd). Also a lot of people are just boring, stupid people who don’t have any ideas or anything to say (sorry, I know it sounds horrible, but it’s true. There are people who have nothing to do and no ideas of how to fill their time). Not to be confused with the people who just don’t have *time* to have ideas or have things to say on the internet.

  3. Elisa says:

    I also hate when people say “There’s no conversation on Twitter!” and then refuse to respond to @replies. U R using it wrong…..

  4. yesisaidyesiwillyes says:

    Hi Jessica,

    There’s a diffusion of energy and attention issue with Twitter, isn’t there? In the aggregate along with other things, I mean. You’ve your three active Twitter accounts, this WordPress thing, maybe FaceBook, your telephone contacts, your e-mail and snail-mail correspondence (well okay probably not much of the latter for anyone these days), TV, movies, your bf, your family, reading on the ‘net and via old fashioned books, music ( live, the radio, iTunes and the like) eating, eliminating, cleaning, sleeping, screwing, etc., etc. And sooner than later, the kid and if you choose, a job, which will layer in a whole different set of circumstances to which (Arthur Miller borrow here) “Attention must be paid.” And then there’s the Attention That Must Be Paid to doing NOTHING.

    I already pay too much attention to too many things. And so that’s what stops me from being a tweeter.

    That said, I like your LookTouch tweets, when I check ‘em out. So go forth and tweet.

    And best wish!

  5. Matt says:

    there’s another word for what twitter is: “talking to people”. how can that be a waste of attention? i suppose if you only use twitter to read the updates of kim, khloe, and kourtney, that might be a waste of time. it’s all in how you use it. a person could spend all day separated from technology, philosophizing in isolation, and that might be a waste of time too, depending on how good a philosophizer you are.

  6. I do WordPress, Twitter, occasional Tumblr, Facebook, texting, occasional phone calls (mostly to my parents), occasional email (mostly to people who don’t use other social networking services). I also pay attention to people in real life (socialize in the flesh), including my boyfriend, and I read the New York Times and NPR online (when I don’t listen to NPR in the car). But I don’t really use the phone, I rarely write letters, I almost never read books (when I do, they’re usually novels), I don’t write poetry, and I don’t really listen to music except when I’m trying to focus on something else. There’s definitely a trade off between kinds of things one does, but I find Twitter to be exceedingly rewarding in ways that I don’t find, say, traditional poetry. I think “creating a life” out of these kinds of networks is a semantic web equal to poetry and possibly capable of replacing it, at least for me. I participate in poetry to write, to emote, to socialize, to create webs of meaning– all of which I can also do via WordPress, Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook. Add to that mix the fine elements of everyday life and you’ve got a giant “poem of a life” like “A” or Ulysses … and it needn’t really be coerced into a traditional manuscript. It exists; it swirls around one. I am living in my own poem that I prune and edit and at the same time never entirely control.

  7. yesisaidyesiwillyes says:

    Hi Jessica,

    I like the life-as-poem-including-tweets. I do. What concerns me though is the episodic — flitting — attention that tweets by their very nature bring about. The gals and guys that decoded tens of thousands of pages over the last several months at Wiki-leaks (try reading one of the source documents, without using the acronym definitions — they are almost impossible) didn’t do it via tweeting. They sat down and got into it, for hours at a time.

    I almost can’t bear to read that you almost never read books. Yet I almost don’t believe it, since I just read about you packing up boxes of ‘em, and not to throw ‘em away either.

    An added bonus (not): a look before I leap statement: Twitter’s the new religion, an opiate that effectively deadens the sense of the masses. Apologies there to Karl Marx.

    [This comment, even without this parenthetical, is about five times longer than what Twitter permits.]

  8. I’m burned out on reading. I’ve been in school almost constantly since I was 5. I’m tired of reading books. I read the newspaper. I read articles on things I’m interested in. Once in awhile I read a novel, but it has to be a really good novel to hold my attention. I’m not just burned out on reading books, I’m cynical. I want a book that compels me to read it by virtue of its story or style. I no longer feel compelled to read books out of guilt over not having read everything or a general need for my eyes to travel across the page (the hobby of insatiable reading that leads people to buy e-readers or copious paperbacks). But as you know, reading books is not the only type of reading, and as someone with an interest in the intersection of the literary and the digital I don’t see “books” in the traditional form as inherently valuable. Nor do I see “episodic” thought as inherently lesser than long-term concentration (nor do these two things nullify one another– I can pay attention to something long episodically, or pay long attention to the episodic).

    Many poems require less time to read than novels, but obviously a small poem can be just as compelling and rich as a long novel. A poem may not occupy your present attention for long, but may have a long-term effect. I know there’s a lot of cultural fear regarding how our brains may be changing due to new kinds of digitized social interaction (and there at least a handful of books on the subject) , but I don’t think that those changes are really new or really frightening. This won’t kill that.

  9. Matt says:

    “Twitter’s the new religion, an opiate that effectively deadens the sense of the masses.”

    nonsense, in regard to twitter as well as religion. (and i’m an atheist!)

  10. yesisaidyesiwillyes says:

    Great linked-to Eco essay: thanks.

    [Hey, that's a tweet-able comment I just did! Maybe I could do it!]

  11. When I interviewed Margaret Atwood earlier this year, she likened Twitter to the modern-day telegraph. Atwood is an obsessive tweeter and she totally “gets” what makes Twitter successful — mixing your own personal tweets with good links and making sure to retweet and/or comment on others. I just started following you, Jessica. I’m glad to have discovered your blog.

  12. Thanks Collin. Atwood is a great Tweeter. For famous authors, I also like Yoko Ono’s and Neil Gaiman’s feeds. @neilhimself is so “real” and personable (how does he have time to tweet and still write so much?), and Yoko is so… Yoko. Optimistic and Aquarian.

  13. typingspace says:

    i mainly use my twitter account (@keredm) to badger politicians. i’ll ask them serious questions about the economy (implying i’ll change my vote if they don’t reply), but then i’ll ask them to come round to my house, or suggest we meet for a drink.

    occasionally i keep track of poets. even a handful from across the globe.

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