February 5, 2012

Twitter: A Social Medium for the Anti-Social

by Pete Strella

I’m not the most avid user of social media. It’s not the media part that turns me away – I’ve spent more than a decade of my life writing for various print and online publications. I understand the value of sharing information.

It’s the social part that gets me – I’m kind of a loner. Social media is like an online conversation, and there are many times when I don’t feel like conversing.

But when you’re married to someone who owns a social media business, you tend learn through osmosis. How else would I know that I’m an “egg” on Twitter (no profile picture) and a “lurker” (someone who reads posts online but never engages or posts comments)?

If it weren’t for Rachel, I may have never created my own Twitter account. But I’m glad she influenced me enough to enter the virtual universe of tweets, followers, handles and hashtags.

Here are the top reasons I enjoy Twitter:

Instant Reaction –With Twitter, I don’t have to wait for reactions to breaking news or live events. Take this weekend’s Super Bowl, for example. I enjoy reading columns by ESPN’s Bill Simmons on Grantland.com. By following him on Twitter, I don’t have to wait for him to finish typing his next million-word masterpiece. I can enjoy his side-grabbing one-liners as the game is happening. Twitter takes the breaking-news and live-event experience to a new level.

Stronger Connection to Public Figures– Pretty much everyone has a celebrity or well-known figure they admire. If you’re lucky enough, that person is also active on his or her Twitter account. This situation gives you a whole new perspective of their lives. Seriously…I feel like I personally know Pittsburgh Steelers Safety Ryan Clark.

Entertainment Value – There are many entertaining tweeters out there. I’m a huge pro wrestling fan and I follow Dusty Rhodes. His nonsensical tweets are classic. Examples: “what up tweet people” and “In real earth time which most of us are not , terry funk has no equal in hard core.” OK, I guess you had to be there.

Following is less stressful than sending a friend request  – I’m not in high school anymore, so I don’t want to deal with rejection when Johnny B or Suzie Q denies my Facebook friend request because they don’t quite remember who the hell I am. I don’t enjoy rejecting or ignoring others’ friend requests either, even if they come from people I’m not too enthusiastic about. With Twitter, I can follow anyone I want without the stress. And if by reading that sentence you think I’m a stalker…I can see where you’re coming from.

Simply put, if you’re a “fan” of anything, Twitter gives you a unique opportunity to enjoy a contemporary fan experience like nothing you’ve ever experienced before. Twitter was difficult for me to grasp when I first heard about it. But now I get it and love it. And if Rachel has her way, I might even post a profile picture and unleash some tweets of my own some day.

Who is your favorite person to follow? What’s their handle?

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