Twitter: What’s the point?

A few weeks ago, I attended a dinner party at the home of my husband’s boss and his wife. It was an intimate gathering—four couples. It’s a relatively new company, and the hosts thought it would be a good way for everyone (the wives especially) to put faces to names.

As often is the case in such gatherings, there was much small talk. A conversation which began as the merits of Mac versus PC (or vice versa depending on whether you’ve partaken in the Apple Kool-aid) soon turned to Facebook. Our host asked everyone at the table, “Who of you here has a Facebook account?” My husband was the only one who did not answer in the affirmative. Everyone had an opinion:

“There are people I don’t want to find me”

“I found my best friend from elementary school.”

It’s a great way to keep up with family and friends and see the latest pictures of the grand kids.”

“Facebook is your life, only edited.”

To the last comment I responded, “Facebook status updates are like a never-ending Christmas letter. I have a Facebook account (two actually), but I prefer Twitter.”

Guess who was the only person at the table with a twitter account.

“I tried twitter…I don’t get it.”

“What’s the point of Twitter anyway?”

This left me momentarily speechless—a fairly rare occurrence. Because how does one answer that question?
What is the point of Twitter?

My response was, “What do you want the point of Twitter to be? It can be different things to different people.”

So I posed this question on Twitter and got some interesting responses:

@CandySteele said: I love being able to connect with people and not worry about the spinach in my teeth.

@sarahmsalter said: For the first couple of months I was on Twitter I felt the same way. Then, I “met” you. And @weightwhat. And @Helenatrandom. Et al.

@Helenatrandom said: Socializing. Here is where I group together with my cyber friends, much the same way I used to gather on the great big cubes in Alumni Hall with my friends in college. It is a cyber gathering space. Why not use a chat room? Because that isn’t where my friends are gathering. Does that make me a “follower”. Perhaps. So what?

@marni71 said: Interaction with other snarks. I’m not being snarky in saying that though. And I find I’m challenged (in a good way) by differing opinions and beliefs of others I meet on here. But mostly…snark.

@kellyatlovewell said: I tell people Twitter (for me) is like a huge chat room with some of my favorite online people in it. It’s a lifeline for SAHMs.

@IanAClifford said: Twitter has put me in touch with people I wouldn’t normally be in touch with and sending short messages is normally all I have time for.

@duane_scott said: The point of twitter is connecting with readers and interesting people. A major time killer.

@Davidmota said: Twitter is the place where I get encouraged by other Believers across the world.

@Pauharri said: I feel twitter is so honest and open to anyone I mean you can twitter someone famous,or twitter your neighbour anyone.

@forthegirls said:To expand beyond school, community and family (bc that’s what FB has for me) twitter offers new perspectives!

@NEgraceful said: It’s an easy way to click over to posts quickly. Also, gives me a high ’cause I get followers faster than on blog!

@ Brian_Russell said: Twitter is my place for the comments my mom always told me to keep to myself.

@MarilynYocum said: Twitter: Having a sense of what others are doing/thinking/reading. Trusting them to point out good things, but not overwhelm me.

@BretMcCormick said: Great question….blogging 140 characters at a time is all my ADHD can withstand.

@KathleenOverby said:Twitter is fine tuned. Succinct. Instant conversation. 🙂 Facebook makes me feel sooooooo lonely. A facade somehow? 1000 Friends.??

@mxings said: (in response to Kathleen) FB does not make me feel lonely, but it makes me feel like I am neglecting people, a status does not seem 2B enough.

@jeremypeterson said:Quick thoughts and replies w/o having to deal with dumb things like farmville or mafia 🙂

@togetherforgood said: I’m a fan of facebook. Because none of my “real life” friends are on twitter. I don’t really “get” social media, I think.

@mxings said: I would agree. Twitter can be whatever you want it to be — I prefer it because I feel I have more choice in following/friending There are 2 at work who always say, “Why would I want to tell everyone every time I take a piss?” & the look ‘end of discussion’.

@NovelHelp said: Connecting with people who have similar interests and to learn from their experience and/or help with mine.

@mmerubies said: Twitter is for conversation that completely broadens my horizons.

@jpwire said: Twitter makes me less lonely. other really whacked out people to connect with. LOL.

@SBeeCreations said: Started as a marketing tool &is now an extended network of caring, compassionate, funny friends I don’t know how I survived without.

@UntanglingTales said: I twitter b/c it’s idea-connect w/ greater efficiency than blogging– w/ (frequently) the convenient connection to the actual blog.

@okiewife said: I love twitter for the connections with ordinary but witty folks, uplifting blogs, and all the patriotic love of America comments.

@WriteOnRideOn said: Global communication. Worldwide interaction with people I may never have met otherwise. Mutual support+encouragement. Fun. Writing. Plus, I’m with ya on the FB deal. I don’t do FB. I don’t want to dredge up the past or interact only w/people I already know. Plus, I love the potential and unexpected surprises on Twitter. Love sending out a tweet and meeting new people out of the blue.:) ..without FB “will you be my friend” stuff. I’d rather have public Twitter timeline w/news, friends, writing, shared interests.AND sometimes I actually manage to say what I need to say in 140char or less. I know. Hard to believe right now. LOL :o)

I also received a couple of heartfelt direct messages:

Re: Twitter. Sometimes, I just don’t know. Sometimes I feel it’s just another way to feel lonely as I probably don’t have the outgoing personality to make friends as I see others do. I find it disheartening at times. But when I’m away, I miss it. Go figure.

(a mutual friend) said that I add sunshine to everyone’s day on Twitter. And that surprised me, because in real life, people are always telling me that I’m too much. Too loud. Too fast. Too much. I’m rarely myself because being myself is too much. Too annoying. And I often fear that I’m too much on Twitter, too. Too talkative. Too chatty. Too open. Too “myself.” But she said that the miracle of the Internet is that it allows weirdos like us to discover that we’re not alone. And that’s what it’s done for me. I’ve found a group of people that don’t just TOLERATE me. They CELEBRATE me. (Does it make me pathetic that I’m actually crying while I type this?) I feel like I found a treasure when I found you guys. (Or did you find me?) I don’t care. I just thank God we found each other. I was afraid to laugh or to be silly. I had been led to believe that grown-ups don’t do that. Y’all taught me different.

So there you go. For those of you who are not on the twitter, those are several reasons people choose to connect there. And if you are on twitter, and missed sharing your thoughts on twitter, what’s the point for you?

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31 Responses to “Twitter: What’s the point?”

  1. Sharkbait June 22, 2010 at 3:05 am #

    People choose to do drugs too.

    .-= Sharkbait´s last blog ..Biblios Hokku – Philemon =-.

    • Candy June 22, 2010 at 8:38 am #

      Ummm – did I detect a hashtag from Sharkbait? People who avoid twitter don’t know hashtags. Sounds pretty fish if you ask me.
      .-= Candy´s last blog ..Tasty Bites: Burrito Bowl =-.

      • Sharkbait June 23, 2010 at 3:14 am #

        Yes, my sarcasm was cleverly disguised as a tweet.

        BTW look at the name of my latest blog post below.
        Co-incidence? Maybe.
        .-= Sharkbait´s last blog ..Why I like Twitter =-.

  2. Candy June 22, 2010 at 6:26 am #

    I liked this description too (have no idea who said it): “Facebook is for the people you went to high school with. Twitter is for the people you wish you went to high school with.”

    I’m beginning to wonder why I have a Facebook account, because I don’t go there often enough to use it the way the true-blue Facebook fans use it. And on Twitter, you don’t get all the ads, or at least you can block the bots who tweet the ads.
    .-= Candy´s last blog ..Tasty Bites: Burrito Bowl =-.

    • Helen June 22, 2010 at 9:30 am #

      But if I didn’t go to facebook, BunBun would miss me… 😉
      .-= Helen´s last blog ..Quid Pro Quo =-.

  3. Louise June 22, 2010 at 8:31 am #

    I get it and you’re making me into a Believer — you tweetie you!

    Sweet tweets little tweetie bird! 🙂
    .-= Louise´s last blog ..All is well. =-.

  4. Cassandra Frear June 22, 2010 at 8:33 am #

    Now wait a minute. I already told you! (chuckle)

    This is exactly what happens to me. That’s why I wrote what I did on my guest post. It was my form of a rant. My own version of “So there!”

    But, honestly, the folks who question Twitter have a point, too. It can eat a lot of time and at the end of it, what have we accomplished exactly? I mean, they have a point, you know?

    One thing more: I think Twitter is still developing. We are going to see many more uses for it, ones we hadn’t even envisioned. It’s a great tool for communication, an information hotline, a teaching instrument, a way to socialize across physical boundaries. That’s what I tell people …
    .-= Cassandra Frear´s last blog ..White Sands =-.

    • Helen June 22, 2010 at 9:29 am #

      I never talk on the phone with a friend for hours and ask what the point of that was. I never run into a friend in the library, and go to the coffee shop for hours and ask what the point of that was…what was accomplished. Nor do I do that with twitter. When I need to leave, I announce that I need to leave, then I leave…
      .-= Helen´s last blog ..Quid Pro Quo =-.

      • Duane Scott June 22, 2010 at 11:50 am #

        Okay, Helen. That comment rocked! Just so you know 🙂

        And no disrespect to Cassandra. I see your point. But Helen has an awesome point.

  5. sherri June 22, 2010 at 8:35 am #

    I spend more time on facebook as I have reconnected with old friends that I forgot I missed!

    I’ve not caught the twitter bug yet, but I am slowly getting there.
    I love the retweets from trusted bloggers who have sent me to some wonderful reads!

    Now, I’ve found people I didn’t know I was missing!
    .-= sherri´s last blog ..VISUAL INSPIRATION- A Gift for Writer’s/Speaker’s Block (week two) =-.

  6. Alise June 22, 2010 at 8:37 am #

    I’m pretty new to the Twitters, but once I really dove in, I’m finding that it’s a nice relief from Facebook. There are still aspects of FB that I like, but Twitter has really been a lot of fun.

    And I think Candy’s description is pretty perfect!
    .-= Alise´s last blog ..Review and Giveaway: Evolving in Monkey Town by Rachel Held Evans =-.

  7. Heather Sunseri June 22, 2010 at 8:52 am #

    “I was afraid to laugh or to be silly. I had been led to believe that grown-ups don’t do that.”

    That’s really sad, but I truly get it.
    .-= Heather Sunseri´s last blog ..High Expectations and Reading =-.

  8. Kathleen June 22, 2010 at 9:16 am #

    What Candy said…. My world opened up, people who feel kindred. It’s a wonderful, unexpected
    present. Great dialogue…….
    .-= Kathleen´s last blog ..Under the Umbrella =-.

  9. ~Brenda June 22, 2010 at 9:22 am #

    I’m with the person who likes to be able to communicate without worrying about the spinach in the teeth. Haha!

    I often get my feelings crushed with everyday friendships. I’ve never gotten my feelings hurt on Twitter. I don’t know if that’s because people are more friendly in the cyberworld, more accepting? Less judgmental?

    Maybe I just write so much better than the first impressions I give when in person.

    Either way, Twitter is better. For me.
    .-= ~Brenda´s last blog ..the pitcher =-.

  10. Helen June 22, 2010 at 9:36 am #

    If I didn’t have twitter to hang out at when I was taking care of Mom and limited in how long I could be away from home, I would have gone nuts. My Twitter friends walked through the fire with me in a way that my corporal friends and my cousins didn’t know how to… I do not fault them for that…anymore….But it was you, Sherri, Annie, Sarah, Candy, Billy, Jason, Peter, Kristi (the pagan duck), HerbieGookins, katbrak, et al that made me feel less isolated, less alone. Any corporal friend or family member ask me what the point of twitter is, and they are going to get a mouthful, no matter how nice I try to be about it…
    .-= Helen´s last blog ..Quid Pro Quo =-.

  11. Lois June 22, 2010 at 9:49 am #

    Why do I get such a warm thrill when someone from twitter mentions me? I guess it’s having such a wide group of interesting folks out there being aware that I exist. The quote about twitter being for people you wish you went to school with was from @funnyoneliners and I requoted it on facebook because I feel it’s true. Thanks for another really, really good read.
    .-= Lois´s last blog ..Why I Have Gray Hair =-.

  12. Peter P June 22, 2010 at 10:25 am #

    Twitter is the place I go to waste time when I should be working.

    I go there because I have client’s I met and talk to on twitter and still bet business coming in through it.

    I totally go there to NOT work, but if anyone asks, I can totally justify it!
    .-= Peter P´s last blog ..A Week of Firsts =-.

    • michael June 22, 2010 at 11:38 am #

      Twitter is where I met Peter. Have to accounts with him now.
      .-= michael´s last blog ..My Mom’s Tooth =-.

      • Duane Scott June 22, 2010 at 11:54 am #

        Me too, Peter! You are using Twitter wisely. I agree, you totally can justify it.

  13. Robin M Arnold June 22, 2010 at 10:54 am #

    Facebook is really a different group of folks for me. I do have some overlap but they are few. I started using Facebook as a way to stay connected to nieces and nephews I lived far away from. It’s been great! I’ve gotten to know high school people I never really knew back in the day, and I stay connected with people we’ve known through several states. I started using Twitter as a professional tool, which is still the case. I use both with the intention of representing me in the worlds I don’t and can’t go, at least not very often.

    I learn a lot on Twitter, nearly daily, following links, reading and connecting more professionally, rather than personally. Twitter can be like a high school clique sometimes. There are tight bonded groups of conversationalists. Some conversations are just too much, but it’s easy to ignore and be ignored on Twitter because of the timed flow, not as easy on Facebook.

    Facebook and Twitter aren’t the same thing and shouldn’t be compared, in my opinion. They also shouldn’t be managed in the same way. They are tools to use, and as with all tools, there’s no point in owning one if you aren’t going to appreciate the benefits, and take the time to become skilled in the use. So in tool terms, Facebook is my Slow Cooker, and Twitter is my Blender.
    .-= Robin M Arnold´s last blog ..Worship with me: Mighty to Save =-.

  14. michael June 22, 2010 at 11:39 am #

    Facebook=a high school reunion

    Twitter=a country boy going to NYC to meet people
    .-= michael´s last blog ..My Mom’s Tooth =-.

  15. A Simple Country Girl June 22, 2010 at 12:04 pm #

    Uh-oh. I don’t even have a cell phone. Facebook. My face is in a few books already. Twitter. I thought birds made that sound. Or perhaps it is a condition old folks talk about (don’t get all twitterpated over it). That fella above this note says something about country boys in NYC. Really? I have never even been on an airplane but I could click my heels and twitter transport to a big city? Would that be a Wizard of Oz thing or a Star Trek thing?

    My train of thought has gone done and jumped the track. Oh yeah, I have tried to read some of those twitter deals and I cannot get in to see any real facebook stuff (apparently one needs an account or password). Now I cannot even remember my point. How would this sort of scattered chat-tweet-talk-stomp-dance-flurry work for a Simple Country Girl like me? Does anybody care that I post a photo of fresh manure adorned with butterflies? I mean, really? Or that I got swished in the face with an tail had a bit of manure stuck to my eyebrow for a couple of hours the other day?

    Got to go feed some birds. Tweety bird. Big bird. Hey, we used to raise emus. One of them was named Big Bird. Does that count for something?

    .-= A Simple Country Girl´s last blog ..Surrender & Praise =-.

  16. Maureen June 22, 2010 at 12:13 pm #

    We have to work on Louise a bit more.
    .-= Maureen´s last blog ..Haitian Artists’ Visions of Home =-.

  17. Michelle@ Graceful June 22, 2010 at 1:41 pm #

    I love the list of tweets about the point of twitter, as well as the comments here. It’s made me realize one thing: I don’t interact on Twitter, I don’t converse. I go on for a couple minutes and then go off. It’s not a community for me, but a resource. Part of the reason for that is I go on from my computer at home, or duck in quickly from my computer at work. I don’t have a fancy phone where I can tweet on the fly. And I don’t know what all this hootsuite Tweetdesk stuff is. I’ve gone online to figure it out…but then never have enough time to properly figure it out. So clearly I might be a better twitterer if I had the proper technology to make it easier. But I am cheap. And part of me doesn’t want to buy a fancy new phone, because I’m not sure I want all that access anyway. I feel like I would lose control and be on all the time and neglect my children even more than I already do!
    .-= Michelle@ Graceful´s last blog ..Overnight Guest =-.

  18. bman June 22, 2010 at 4:33 pm #

    YEssss. I always have this conversation with people. They’re all over Facebook but don’t “get” Twitter. It’s the same thing, but I can be more honest because you’re not on it, Mom.

  19. Elaina June 22, 2010 at 5:08 pm #

    I’m definitely one that has struggled with Twitter. I like the “micro blogging” concept. I swear I have ADD so sometimes it’s all my brain can handle when it comes to blogging. I do like when I find new writers or resources I didn’t know about. Or any other number of interesting tidbits.

    I have met a few people (actually in real life now) specifically through Twitter I would not have otherwise. And I appreciate that part of it. But there’s definitely another part of me that struggles with it. And I don’t always know how to pinpoint why. I do see the community others have developed through it and I definitely believe it’s a good thing. I just don’t always know how to make it work for me.
    .-= Elaina´s last blog ..Free =-.

  20. Tony C June 22, 2010 at 7:12 pm #

    I’m trusting you trashed the place before you left?

    If that would have reflected badly on your husband with his boss, I’ll gladly drive down and do it for you… anonymously of course.

    What’s the point of Twitter? Geeeeezzzzzz!
    .-= Tony C´s last blog ..Sometimes the speaker is actually talking to you… =-.

  21. Trey Morgan June 22, 2010 at 10:49 pm #

    I do both Twitter & Facebook. I tweet a little more often than I FB, but I actually like FB better. For some reason I like the pictures, being able to go over 140 characters, being able to hide people who get on my nerves and other things about FB.

    I do find it interesting that most people are either partial to one or the other, and many who Twitter don’t get the FB thing and vice-versa.

    Loved your thoughts on this.

  22. Annie K June 22, 2010 at 11:25 pm #

    Unfortunately, my employer frowns on using twitter during the work day (which I guess I can understand since it’s those lovely taxpayers that pay my salary) so I basically miss out on everything. And to try and go back and read it all, egads. So if I’m on the twitter and being all snarktackular and whatnot during the week day it’s a day off. And a treat for all I’m sure.
    .-= Annie K´s last blog ..Thank You Veterans =-.

  23. Megan Willome June 23, 2010 at 7:05 am #

    I’m here for you, Katdish! I use Twitter as a way to keep up with all the bloggers I enjoy.

    I know my tea tweets are inane, but I enjoy looking back at them as a way to view my life through one of my true joys — tea.

  24. n. June 23, 2010 at 1:34 pm #

    i use twitter, facebook, email, and i have a blog.

    i get out of it, what i put into it, just like everything else.

    i use the above media as well as telephone, cell phone, and the post office.
    each has to be used depending on who i want to be in contact with and what they use.

    i like the people i am friends with on twitter, they are funny, creative, and good writers.
    i am able to take part in poetry jams, which is FUN.
    and i am able to find other poets, bloggers, and believers.
    i have met people from other states and countries.

    i am finding that words are very important…
    and communication is important.
    and using different media can be used in a way that leaves time for the face to face communication with people. it can even be used to make dates for those face to face times.

    it is all in the thinking and using of all the different ways to communicate that make them a good or a bad thing.

    it is all about what is in our heart when we DO communicate, not so much what we use TO communicate.

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