The Twitter Generation
One of the latest technological fads to have hit the scene is Twitter; the free social-networking service that lets people broadcast up-to-the-minute accounts of their thoughts and activities to their friends either though the Web site, an instant message or a mobile text message. What exactly sets Twitter apart from the dozens of other social networking systems out there is that Twitter’s homepage proudly advertises itself as a “social messaging utility for staying connected in real-time.” Face book users also know it as the site where one only posts status updates, endearingly called “tweets.” These tweets are all text-based posts with a limit of 140 characters. They appear on the individual’s page and the pages of those who subscribe to them (“followers”).
Twitter has received a great deal of media attention and usage due to its use as a publicity mechanism for both celebrities and politicians alike. President Obama used Twitter frequently during his 2008 presidential campaign, and celebrities like Oprah Winfrey boast over two million followers. In India, one of our politicians was caught in a furor recently for tweeting some of his thoughts about the airline seating.
Twitter does reflect a lot about our generation’s lifestyle. Our socializing methods have transcended actual reality and with these new methods come all forms of online etiquette that must be observed. Through twitter, we are allowed glimpses into the world of our friends and celebrities through tiny morsels of information — where they are, what they are doing, and who they are with. All these facts are things that some may find interesting. But twittering is not all about gossip; it is also used as a tool for business aid. In the case of the increasing number of businesses who use them, Twitter is an advertising tool designed to get followers to log onto their web sites or try a new product.