How I Use Twitter (but this is just me)

Not sure if it was @Oprah joining, #amazonfail, #pman (Moldova), or the tipping point on a meme, but the world is atwitter about Twitter.

I thought I’d share a few thoughts about how I use and perceive the service, which I joined about a year ago.

I’m not a Twitter evangelist; I don’t think it’s for everyone. If you’re using it and you don’t know why, maybe you shouldn’t be using it?

Twitter is not a platform, it’s an application that allows you to construct and dip in and out of conversations. You should @ often.

Anyone analyzing tweets only as stand alone statements will see self-absorption and “innate incoherence.” They miss the point.

Yet it’s easy to be misled by how Twitter works, because most answers to the question “What are you doing?” aren’t interesting.

But that’s not how the people I follow or I use it. Most of the people I follow instead answer the question “what are you thinking?”

If you follow interesting people who think interesting things, then it follows to think that their tweets might be interesting.

Over time your mind’s eye will learn to identify tweeters who have something relevant to say and to find yet others. Read critically.

The people I follow on Twitter aren’t necessarily my “friends.” Some people are comfortable with 100% virtual friendships. I’m not.

(I’m not raining on online friendships, I’m just saying they’re not for me).

The people who aren’t my friends whom I follow on Twitter I consider “acquaintances.” I think that’s a fairer name for what we share.

I’m willing to bore friends, but I try not to bore acquaintances, because some day, I might want them to be my friends.

I don’t — or try not to — complain about traffic or the academic #jobmarket, because, really, who’s interested in my bitching?

I bitch about traffic and the #jobmarket to my friends, and rarely think twice about confronting them when we’re hanging out.

I always think twice about confronting someone on Twitter. It’s not polite to disagree with acquaintances, though sometimes it must be done.

Mostly, though, I avoid confronting others because arguments in Twitter are unsatisfying. Neither party gets sufficiently into it.

So when I disagree with a tweet, I resolve the disagreement by reading and thinking more, writing a blog post, or talking with friends.

As a result, my tweetline offers a path into my life, reading, and thinking that’s perhaps a tad more upbeat than the real thing.

Ultimately, Twitter works for me because through it I am exposed to people that push and prod me to think and read more deeply and broadly.

I follow links from educators & historians & journalists & technologists whose judgments I respect. I learn. Hopefully, I also contribute.

“Blog to reflect, tweet to connect.” @bgblogging Claim anything more for Twitter, you’re either selling something or setting up a straw man.

As such, Twitter is not for people who have uttered the following statements:

“Twitter won’t work because it’s not profitable.” “Twitter can’t save journalism.” “Twitter encourages our worst impulses.”

Those statements are usually uttered by people with closed worldviews, with minds already made up.

Twitter, like everything else, is purposeful only if you use it with a purpose.