Please explain Twitter for boneheaded me.

I can’t for the life of me understand why Twitter is so popular. I’m thinking that maybe it’s because I don’t understand exactly what the service does. I thought that you create an account and get a special phone number you can text to, which then posts straight to your Twitter wall for your followers to see. Am I correct in this? If so, doesn’t Facebook already do this? Why have both?

Also, who the hell cares what my daily thoughts are? I can understand the appeal for a celebrity because it makes people feel like they’re somehow closer or personally know the celebrity, but for Joe Schmoe like you or me? Who cares?

No, you sign onto Twitter on the PC, just like FB. And yes, you can post from your phone too. I’m not on it either, because I totally don’t see the point - it limits your characters severely, and there is NO celebrity in the world whose every word I want to hang on. Hell, part of the reason I left FB is because even that limits your words in a post; why would I want to be limited even more severely?

Our company uses Twitter for quick announcements. Personally I think it’s contributing to an increasingly short attention span - if it’s not in 140 character snippets no one wants to read it. However, who am I to gainsay it’s popularity?


Then again, nobody gives a shit about Mr. Shmoe’s Facebook updates either. They both rely on a shared fiction that other people are interested in what we have to say. Modern tools that allow us to nurture our inner narcissist.

Barnum needs an update: nobody will ever lose a dollar by overestimating the vanity of the American public.

I care about the thoughts and doings of people I care about. I care about certain family members, friends, other loved ones, project buddies, and the occasional public figure. Some of them care about me. It’s a simple easy way to keep in touch. Simpler but less versatile than Facebook.

I enjoy writing and reading but don’t care for the phone, and don’t live close to a lot of the people I like. I think that explains some of the appeal.

If it’s not for you, then by all means don’t use it.

But then here you are already, writing on a board with complete strangers, so…

It is great for celebrities. It’s like being a part of a fan club but with a more direct connection. I’ve had a few tweets replied to by some of my favourite celebs, and it’s a small thrill to know they’ve reacted to my thoughts.

But it’s also good for just getting your own thoughts out there. It’s not for “Just went to the shops and bought an egg” messages, though there are plenty of times when it will be that, it’s really for more amusing, prosaic, or interesting things that occur to you that are worth sharing. I will have an odd idea that I think is worth expressing, and if there’s nobody nearby in real life to share it with then Twitter is a great place to do it, especially if it gets a murmur of agreement or counterpoint.

It’s also great for getting an accurate gauge of a news story as it happens. It has frequently been the first place I’ll hear of an event, or a death. We had a small earthquake recently, and it was a great way to get an idea of its scale and some genuine facts, all within seconds of it occurring.

Because Twitter gave us this for which we should be grateful for all time.

And if you’re using Twitter to share your daily thoughts, then yeah, unless you have a consistently humorous or profound spin on them, you’re going to have a bad time. But if there’s an artist you’re fond of, Twitter is an easy way to see what they’re working on, when and where concerts are happening, when deals or sales are going on and so on.



The appeal is - people can believe other people care about their mundane messages.

Agent Foxtrot, Twitter IS for boneheads.

I’ve been on Twitter since late 2006. For me, it was part of the development of a professional network - there were a bunch of librarians on twitter early (there are still a lot, but there’s a lot of other noise now) - and I was a late adopter among my particular group. :slight_smile:

That said, it still keeps me connected to my professional network. I don’t care what Kim Kardashian has done, or what the trending topics are. I do care that I can toss a question out easily to librarians around the world, or participate in something like the regular libchat that happens on there. That’s the aspect of it that works for me.

If I were just getting into it now, I think I’d give up quickly - it can be a heck of a lot of noise.

I have a Twitter account, but I never post anything. I pretty much just use it as a news feed. I follow reporters, news outlets, some daily humor things and a few celebrities. Twitter is actually better than FB, in my opinion, because it’s less fluff, more substance. Of course, if you just followed your FB friends, you’d probably just see the same crap on a different medium.

Yup, this. Especially for sports, it’s about the best news feed you can get. Every breaking sports story that ESPN or CBS or whomever else publishes these days has a line to the effect of “the story was broken by Reporter X on Twitter (@reporterX)”. It’s a great way of getting the big news, and the reaction to it, before any of the major sites have done the vetting required to get their articles up. I imagine it’s probably similar for a lot of other areas of interest.

I don’t get it, but I guess the only way to correctly judge it is to sign up and follow some interesting people, and see what you think of the tweets that flow by.

I have two accounts.

On the the business one I follow people in the trade and suppliers, other local businesses, etc. to keep up with new releases and news, etc. and I am followed by other similar people and also individual customers, as a lot of my tweets are about new stock.

On the personal account I follow friends and aquaintances (from all over the world, often treating Twitter like a sort of chat-room where 2 or 3 of us will fire off a few messages and replies that others (well, anyone!) can reply to if the happen to see them) and am followed by the same mix. And there are also fun ones, authors & musicians I like, news feeds, etc.

It’s a 2-way street though; just following a few celebs sounds pretty dull to me (ymmv) but there are hashtags (open groups, I suppose) for almost any subject under the sun. And you can just join in! Or re-tweet any you think are worth reading to your own set of followers…

Twitter is kind of like a huge cocktail party all taking place in the same room. You can hang out near people you don’t know - famous or not - and hear interesting, funny, or thought-provoking things. You can meet and talk with new people. You can have conversations with people you know, if they’re on Twitter, too. It’s almost all public, so it doesn’t matter if the person you’re following knows you or not.

I really like Twitter - I follow friends, and I’ve made new friends on it, some pretty close. I follow a few celebrities of various famous-ness, I follow news sites, companies, all sorts of things. My Twitter feed is usually more interesting than my Facebook feed, but they really are different. You can also remain anonymous on Twitter, if you choose, while that doesn’t really work on Facebook.

Sure, sometimes the 140 character thing is limiting, but so are sonnets (um, not that most tweets are poetry…). And you can make multiple posts to complete a thought. Once you find interesting people to follow, it’s really fun!

This reminded me of this, ht tp://, put together by some of the people I met via Twitter (link broken because there are some images within the slide deck that may be NSFW).

C&P version of Lsura’s link


Another “please explain…” thread?

Gah. I don’t know. Please explain the appeal of debating and engaging strangers on the internet? Most Twitters users I know aren’t part of a message board and would think me weird for being on here that much. We do have a MMPIMS forum, so I would presume that oversharing is part of the human condition.

I don’t use Twitter, but some of my colleagues use it to keep up on news in their academic fields or share links to interesting articles. A big reason I can see for using Facebook rather than Twitter for this sort of thing is that you can reach a large audience without giving them access to personal information about yourself. You can easily share information with other people in your field without them having access to your vacation photos, being able to see the names of your friends, etc.

Twitter probably appeals to celebrities for much the same reason. They can communicate with their fans without (even in name) having to be “friends” with them.