Thursday, March 16, 2017

Why I love Twitter

I know Twitter isn't the most popular social media anymore. In fact, I've been told over and over that it's dying (and I didn't even get on it until 2009, the year it allegedly started to die:

However, I really love Twitter. I like it because it humanizes so many people that otherwise felt out of touch to me. And it does this in a way that Facebook cannot. Facebook has clear roles for businesses, regular people, and famous people. The line between being an account that can be friend requested and a page that can be followed by anyone is very clear. And while yes, Facebook retro-fitted a follow button, it was too little, too late. Twitter has never had that model. Twitter has always been short, sweet, from anyone, to anyone messages. And that's exactly why I love it.

I get a small thrill of excitement when I get tweets from people that previously felt inaccessible to me. Yes, some of those accounts are probably managed by PR staff, just like the Facebook accounts. But the ones I'm talking about aren't. The accounts for smaller, web series actors (like Kate Hackett, Christopher Sean, Ashley Clements, or Mary Kate Wiles). The accounts for authors of books I've read over the past few years (Laura Bradbury, Deborah Yaffe, John Scalzi, Andy Weir). Those accounts are me getting to interact with the people who create for my benefit. They're me getting to appreciate them and knowing they hear it. Sometimes I can get this on Instagram too, but it's not always easy to come up with a picture for what I want to say, and I feel more self-conscious about pictures, so my Instagram is set to private. 

The other side of Twitter I like is the real conversations I have with total strangers about things. Usually, these things are TV related, since I like to participate in TV live tweet sessions. I've talked about the Oscars on Twitter two years in a row now. This year, I got into an interesting discussion about the representation of Asian Americans at the Oscars. When it was still on the air, I tried to participate in the Castle live tweet sessions every night. It was a good marketing technique to get me watching the show the night it aired, instead of two or three days after. And I loved it because most of the Castle cast tried to participate. Sometimes it was humorous (like Jon Huertas tweeting from traffic for why he wasn't at home watching the episode), sometimes it was behind the scenes knowledge (like Nathan Fillon tweeting when he had a cold, and that's why Castle's voice was so husky that day). But it was always fun and interactive in a way that Facebook posts aren't. The Twitter reply model is different than the Facebook comment model. Easier to read, in my opinion. And that allows me to converse with other people who love the show I love.

Sometimes, I'll get into conversations about Twitter itself (I know, super meta). For example, what inspired this post: I was scrolling through my feed and say Gordon Ramsey being Gordon Ramsey (by which I mean, criticizing food people submitted to him for opinions). In the middle of all those Gordon tweets was a single tweet from Michael Symon, responding to someone who had made one of his pasta recipes, full of encouragement. So I tweeted that observation, and noted that I preferred Symon. and I put my phone down, and walked away. The next day, I came back and I had 10 replies - some defending Chef Ramsey, some agreeing with me that they would prefer to hear from Chef Symon, and one from Chef Symon himself, stating that he just loved seeing people cooking on their own. And I really don't think that conversation would have happened anywhere else. 

While Twitter may be the dying social media, it's the only place I feel comfortable being totally public. Part of that is because of the character limit, I think. It's hard to get into long political arguments in 140 characters (something I detest most about Facebook). It's also easy to tap out a quick, 140 character reply to a fan (see above about increased accessibility). I'm going to keep thinking on the reasons Twitter appeals to me so much - so there may be more social media analysis here in the future.