You can even step back further into the time machine and return to a period when BBS (Bulleting Board Services) ruled every college campus. This allowed users to download software and exchange direct messages between each other. It may have had an archaic feeling to it, but during this period, it was fascinating to think your thoughts could go digital to someone else in a matter of seconds. These thoughts were then stored on a server for everyone to read.
Private instant messages soon turned into public forum postings. Twitter’s fame started with its co-founder, Jack Dorsey, sending a message on March 21, 2006, saying, “just setting up my twttr.” Nicknamed a “tweet”—like that of a little bird talking from a tree branch—this new way of communicating offered you 140 characters to post a message (equivalent to 3 sentences). People would read these messages, and either retweet or consider them favorites. Retweeting gave more popularity to the author and gave more credibility that thousands of people liked and supported it—almost similar to starting a revolutionary movement without stepping outside.
So the world began tweeting. And tweeting they did.
After 10 years of this service being available to the public, who could have predicted this kind of output: “every second, on average, around 6,000 tweets are tweeted on Twitter, which corresponds to over 350,000 tweets sent per minute, 500 million tweets per day and around 200 billion tweets per year.” With Twitter having 974 million active accounts in 2017, there’s plenty of voices out there that post breaking news stories, post opinions about controversial topics, post topics about freedom of speech rights, and post various liberal and conservative political views. Even government leaders, congressmen, statesmen, and other political elites love to use Twitter as a personal reservoir of their own slanted opinions and rhetoric. Because there’s an audience, they keep tweeting both day and night.
Twitter offers an intimate, unfiltered conversation with other people. Because of its limitless boundaries, various questions arise due to the impact of the service upon society’s core values and beliefs. Here’s a few:
- Can proper solutions be offered in 140 characters?
- Is it possible to influence all of society by merely sending out a simple tweet about your opinion, while offering no specific details on how to back it up?
- Is it ethical and proper to post your own philosophical ideas to the world as a government official?
- Why does the news media solemnly trust the messages being posted on Twitter? Why do they fall for the hook-and-bait message?
- Professionally speaking, does tweeting “off the record” really do any good? Or is it more harmful to everyone?
- If it weren’t for Twitter, would people really come forth and say these same thoughts in a “live” public forum?
- Overall, is Twitter discouraging society to hide behind mere tweets rather than stand tall for what they believe in?
As one can see, more questions continue to arise each day because of another tweet. Twitter is gaining more notoriety, more popularity because big-name people are using the service for personal gain, and they are gaining lifelong believers. These people include: celebrities, government officials, leaders, college professors, reporters, and intellectual scholars. It’s the progressive movement of people’s Internet usage that propels Twitter’s success. Since people don’t trust the news media as much, they search for a more common ground with others they can trust. Twitter’s sense of “true innocence” draws millions of people each day to read and believe in every posting.
Twitter’s immediate success could also be their quick exit from the Internet. The real question is: Is Twitter a fad? Maybe so. Email is still more popular in communicating with others than mere tweeting. In reality, all it will take is a misuse or abuse of the service to send followers into an upheaval of distrust. Then, and only then, will people stop reading the posts and stop hanging on every word someone more daring has to say.
Tweeting too much? Order this book: Ordinary Reflections