The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Susannigans: Twitter Has Novelty but Lacks Staying Power as Next Big Social Network

2 min read


Over the past few years, I’ve gotten pretty used to writing about myself. Between this column, my non-fiction writing classes, and Facebook statuses, I’ve put a lot of energy into the assumption that people care about what I have to say. With my unabashed self-absorption, you’d think I’d be an obvious candidate for Twitter, the Internet’s latest “next big thing” in mass communication.

If “brevity is the soul of wit,” then Twitter is the Woody Allen of social networks. Celebrities, politicians and attention-starved tweens can now use their cellphones and Blackberrys to post gossip and tirades online, as long as they’re 140 characters or less.

Twitter has also proved to have some crucial journalistic merit, as Iranian protesters of last June’s election turned to tweeting their cause after the government shut down most other forms of communication. Even the Bullet has a Twitter now! Shameless plug!

My original excuse for getting a Twitter account was work-related. This summer, I interned at a congressional news organization that asked me to verify which members of Congress actually use Twitter and which accounts were fake. You’d be surprised at how many tweeters pose as Sen. Max Baucus, posting gems to the likes of “SINGLE-PAYER HELTHCARE REFORM SUX!!!”

After I started following Rainn Wilson (the actor who plays Dwight on “The Office”), I became addicted, clicking refresh by the hour. I was soon following my favorite bands, news outlets and estranged ex-boyfriends. Oddly enough, rapper Kanye West does not have a verified Twitter account, though the fake ones created in his name are just as engaging.

Most celebrities would lose the privilege of my following within a few days if their tweets weren’t entertaining enough to get me through the day. After much rumination, I’ve decided that I don’t really care if Tyra Banks is brushing her teeth at the moment, and I definitely don’t need a link to a picture of it.

Some say tweets are like poetry. Due to the 140-character limit, each letter is precious. Often I would start a tweet, and have to go back and edit things down in order to fit my pressing rant. Things had to be “good” instead of “wonderful” and I “got” something instead of “bought” something. “Fredericksburg” was shortened to “craphole.” It’s actually not that different from writing headlines.

Now that parents and virtual-farming games have taken over Facebook, the simplicity of Twitter was a nice change of pace for while. But the novelty wore off fairly quickly. Twitter has been “up-and-coming” for the past year now, and it still hasn’t reached the networking and procrastination caliber of its competitors. Frankly, I got bored with it. Maybe 140 characters just aren’t enough.

Much to the dismay of the five of my followers who weren’t porn spammers, I deleted my Twitter account a couple weeks ago, and haven’t checked back since. This bird has flown.