The advent of the Internet and the social networking boom has brought about many ways for people to stay connected. It started with Friendster, moved on to MySpace, and then Facebook became the network of choice for those who wanted to stay connected, especially college students. Now, a new networking site is starting to gain momentum in the industry.
Twitter, an online networking tool that aims to keep people constantly connected to each other, has been gaining popularity rapidly since it was introduced a few years ago. Similar to the new Facebook, the idea is for users to update their “statuses” frequently. These updates are known as tweets, and constitute the bulk of Twitter.
The theory is that with constant updates, which can be sent from any device that is Internet accessible, Twitter can take social networking to the next step. On this new level, people are seemingly always connected and whether or not they have a computer makes little difference.
Twitter can bring about complete knowledge of everything that your friends are doing. But the question remains: should people really want this?
Twitter seems to be grasping for an idea that is just not quite there. While mobile applications for Facebook and MySpace have proven to be popular, many people still prefer the experience to stop when they leave their computers.
From what I’ve noticed at St. John’s, this looks to be the case. Most students seem to have an apathetic view of Twitter and though it has been growing fast, it does not seem to be as popular on campus as the other online networking giants.
When you examine the core idea behind Twitter, it makes sense why so many are skeptical. The idea of everyone knowing what a person is doing at all times of the day is asinine and more voyeuristic than most would like to imagine possible.
While users do send their own tweets and are not forced to send any more than they want, the idea still brings about reminders of George Orwell’s “Big Brother” image from the novel 1984. The idea that Twitter is dangerously revealing is one that many keep in the back of their minds when considering whether or not to sign up.
Yet, one of the major aspects of the site that continues to help Twitter grow is celebrity involvement. Many major and minor celebrities from Hollywood starlets to members of Congress have begun to use Twitter as a way of communicating information that they feel is important such as news, links, and updates.
These celebrity Twitter accounts are highly followed by fans, and make a point for why Twitter can work – it can connect the fans to the celebrities. The only problem is that this direct relationship is nothing that blogs haven’t been able to do for years.
Although the celebrity Twitter accounts have been the buzz lately, they seem to be nothing more than an expanded gossip line.While a few people may enjoy the superficial pleasure of what Twitter tries to create, it seems to be an online fad that will soon leave as quietly as it came. It’s hard to deny that Facebook will remain the leader of social networking, and short of a major overhaul or many new features, Twitter will remain exactly what it is: a tweet, not a roar.