I finished listening to Episode 3 of Analog(ue) on Myke Hurley’s Relay.fm. The topic was “Identity” and during the episode Casey and Myke were discussing Twitter and how some Twitter users all about the numbers. Hence, how some users define themselves by those they follow, or follow them, on Twitter. To some extent, I do this. While I do care about the number of people that follow me, because on some level we all do, it’s not how I use Twitter. I have been using Twitter for 2775 days, or just over 7 1/2 years. During that time, the way I use Twitter has changed.
I originally used it as a way to indicate what I was doing throughout the day. If you look back at my first posts on Twitter, you would see this. A little over 2 1/2 years after joining Twitter, October of 2009, I started doing my “Daily Run Down” blog posts where I would summarize the news of the day in a list of links. I did this to garner more attention and share more on Twitter. I ceased the publication of my “Daily Run Down” articles on July 4th, 2013. Subsequently, the way I use Twitter has shifted again. Now I use it as a way to actually communicate and connect with people, not just as a broadcast medium.
I have never been a 100% completionist when it comes to Twitter. In the beginning of Twitter, I was more so than I am now. I follow too many people (1,551 as of this writing). I usually consider Twitter to be like a party. I don’t usually know what happens before I arrived, and while I may hear about it during my current session on Twitter, I wasn’t there at the time. Likewise, I don’t know what happens after I leave. There are times that I will scroll back a bit to see what was said, and if the conversation is interesting enough I will try to trace it back to its start and read the entire thread.
When Twitter introduced lists back in September of 2009, I immediately began grouping those that I follow, and sometimes those that I do not. Some of the lists are just categorizations, like “Chicago”, “Apps”, “Bloggers” and more. Yet, there is one private list that where I am a completionist. It is a list called “Friends”. This list is purely for those who I would, and in most cases do, consider friends. These are the individuals where I actually do care what happens and these are the individuals I interact with most often. If you’re on this list then I will very likely read everything you post. Yet, you will never know if you are on this list, because it’s a private list.
I don’t have many “meat space”, or “real life”, friends. I only have a few. I make up for my lack of “real” friends by using Twitter. As mentioned before, I do consider many, if not all, of those on my “Friends” list, to be actual friends. You could say considering those I have never met to be friends, as an aspect to the introverted part of myself and to some extent this would be accurate. In general, I am not one who like parties (I don’t mind family parties most of the time). I don’t enjoy being the center of attention. Yet, strangely, I have no issues giving talks on things, provided it is a topic that I am well versed in. I tend to prefer staying out of the spotlight and at the edges of gatherings.
Twitter is where I go to find news, do quick rants, and overall converse with people. Twitter fulfills that physical interaction, which was mentioned in Episode 3 of Analog(ue), that a vast majority of humans need to survive. While I do not use Twitter like most others, It does serve a purpose for me. The question becomes, how do you use Twitter? Do you only follow celebrities? Do you only use it to socialize with your closest “meat space” friends? However you decide to use Twitter, as long as it works for you, ignore others if they say “you’re doing it wrong”. Because what’s right for them, is not always right for everybody else.