No social media service is more falsely maligned and misused than Twitter.
Those who do not use it complain that the 140 character limit is degrading the English language and that most tweets are pointless updates on what someone is eating for breakfast. Both of these statements couldn't be further from the truth.
Many more who do use Twitter, use it as an extension of Facebook, creating a private account from which they only follow and are followed by friends. This too, is incorrect.
What makes Twitter so great is the public aspect - the interactions between people who share a common sentiment, who you never would have met otherwise.
I started tweeting in April 2011 when I created a Twitter account to promote a D.C.-based sports blog I had started with a friend. The blog inevitably died, but the Twitter account lived on and became itself a larger platform than the blog ever was.
When people think of Twitter, what they should think of is what is colloquially referred to as "sports Twitter." Sports Twitter has breaking news, analysis and opinion served 24 hours a day with a healthy dose of comedy on a variety of topics, not just limited to sports.
Nowhere else can I interact with the best nine-year old baseball writer in the world (@MattsBats), the beard of a professional baseball player (@jwerthsbeard) and professional writers all at the same time. This is what gives Twitter the human element.
It is people from all walks of life jumbled together and sharing their common love of sports or other interests. I would guess that about 99 percent of the people I interact with daily on Twitter I would never have met in real life, but I still consider them good friends.
When I was lucky enough to receive a full-time job offer after my internship this summer, I tweeted the good news after remembering to call my mom, of course.
The reaction was instantaneous with 40 to 50 people, a number of whom I had never even met in person before, congratulating me and genuinely sharing the joy I had felt that day. You cannot find that anywhere else.
So disparage Twitter all you want, but just know that you're the one who is missing out.
Let me give you a few of this week’s greatest hits from my personal Twitter.
“That tiny little piece of passive voice in ‘American Pie’ always gets me. Flawless song otherwise.”
“Thank you Netflix, for getting me. ‘Displaying Emotional 20th Century Period Pieces Based on Books’.”
And let’s not forget the all important, “Bud Foster: a Kangaroo,” because that makes sense.
See, there’s a reason why I have a private Twitter.
I liken my Twitter experience to a less annoying, more rapid-fire Facebook-status-posting spree. Whenever I have a novel idea, I smack it up on Twitter to inform my friends of my genius, in 140 characters or less, of course.
Now, there are plenty of good reasons to have a professional Twitter, but just not for me. My friends hardly want to look at seven back-to-back tweets of pictures of my dogs, let alone future employers or random she-said column stalkers.
For me, Twitter is an outlet to let my quirky, perceptive juices flow. It’s also a place I can shamelessly retweet things about Hokie football, a Chaucer parody account and someone who calls himself Pimp Bill Clinton (I also frequently retweet the real Bill Clinton, but for different reasons).
This is going to sound like an incredible tweeting faux pas, but sometimes I even deny followers. It’s not that I don’t think people would benefit from hearing my opinions on various subjects at all hours of the day, but more that my followers list is a highly-exclusive, cultivated group of people I wouldn’t mind hearing intricate details of my life. Or what song’s currently stuck in my head.
There are even a precious few people I follow, but deny requests to follow me in return. If you find yourself on this particular list, be flattered. These are people I care about, but respect too much to let them think less of me for tweeting things like “Male Siri has a hot voice.” Not that I tweeted that or anything.
So here’s a challenge for you, three people who are reading this column. Try to find me on Twitter — I dare you. Try to follow me. You’ll most likely be denied, and consequently Twitter-stalked in return. Don’t take offense though; really I’m just sparing you from tasteless midnight Flannery O’Connor jokes.