Opinion: Confessions of a Twitter resister



Brian Reimer

Brian Reimer

Brian Reimer is a senior anthropology major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].

I’ve got a Facebook and a Tumblr, and I frequently browse Reddit. Hell, I even have a Google+ account that I haven’t checked since 2011. Maybe I even still have a Myspace — who knows? I feel like I’ve always been an early adopter and active user of social networks, but despite this, I have a confession: I don’t use Twitter, and I could care less to ever tweet.

Surprising, right? Many of my peers know me as an avid proselytizer of technology, social media and the Internet. There are over 500 million active users on Twitter that generate around 340 million tweets every single day. Although there is some discrepancy as to what Twitter considers an “active user,” these numbers represent the massive online phenomenon Twitter has become. It’s hard to watch TV without seeing a Twitter hashtag on the screen or a news anchor raving about his or her Twitter feed.

So why haven’t I joined the Twitter craze?

Its character limit and primary function deter me from hopping on the bandwagon. Unlike Facebook, where users primarily share and receive information from their friends, it seems like Twitter is more of a platform to hear about Justin Bieber’s new album or a Black Friday sale at Target. Twitter’s rapid adoption by the entertainment and retail industry has made the platform relevant, to be sure, but it subsequently feels cheap and lacking in authenticity.

Will I ever start using Twitter? Maybe, but Twitter’s default image as a “direct-to-consumer” marketing scheme will have to change. No doubt, Twitter can be used as a platform for social organization, as witnessed during Occupy Wall Street and the Arab Spring; however, events like this are anomalous, and the other social networks I use have the same capabilities.

In fact, a 2009 Pear Analytics study of a sample of tweets found that 40 percent are “pointless babble” and 38 percent are “conversational.” If a lively street corner in New York and a mobile phone can satisfy 80 percent of a platform, I think I’ll pass on it.

Ultimately, Twitter may be the social network for the ADD generation. My generation has grown up online and takes in more information than any other in human history. Information delivery needs to be fast in order to garner any sort of traction online. For a generation whose collective brain is a constantly moving target, the 140-character limit is about as much as we can pay attention to. Twitter is simply the fastest way to consume data online, for now.

When Twitter was in its infancy, I had a lot of reservations to joining Twitter.

“It’s just another passing trend,” I told myself.

Years later, it seems that this assumption was wrong. Twitter has really caught on and shows no signs of waning. Perhaps my early prejudices are holding me back, but I don’t see myself using a personal Twitter account anytime soon.