Two weeks ago, I sat in my Gender and International Relations class listening to my professor list 3 “good” reasons why we should all get a twitter for class. While he didn’t explicitly say that a twitter account was a requirement for the course, he implied that without one we would be jeopardizing our grade. I sighed heavily and sulked at the idea that I would finally have to give in to the twitter fad. I was not a fan of the hashtags, trends, and retweets that seemed to even flood facebook pages, and never understood the incessant need for people to constantly be tweeting about mundane things. Twitter, for me, was a place for those who updated their facebook statuses with “just woke up” or “had chicken for dinner;” a place where 140 words was meant to capture the next unimportant thing in someone’s life, which had to be recorded on the web for others to read simply because other people were doing it too.
Yet I found myself a few days later signing up for twitter and searching for my professor so that I could strangely “follow” him and have access to all the helpful hints and class discussions he would be posting for the semester. Over the next couple of days I realized that twitter had become my go-to cellphone app: it was a place where I could filter the things I cared about. In 140 words, I could read CNN breaking news or quotes from the President’s State of the Union speech, I could learn about the latest report released by UN Women or link to Nicholas Kristof’s latest NYTimes op-ed. I could scroll down my twitter homepage and in less than two minutes I could be informed about the things that most interest me. In a time where people are constantly on the go and people have less time to even read the paper on their i-pad, twitter is more than just a venue for the ordinary events of people’s lives.
I recognize that the usefulness of twitter has long been discovered: twitter has become a powerful tool for political campaigns, social movements, and activists’ efforts. However, the usefulness I am pointing to is on a much more personal level. It is about using a social media platform to discover our true interests, consolidate our values, and become more informed citizens of the world.
So hopefully I’ve convinced you about the value of twitter as a reputable source for your own personal interests; a tool that can allow you to connect to the world according to what or who you wish to “follow”.