Twitter: A Network of Identity
September 21, 2010
Though I’m not a new user to Twitter, some experimentation this past week made me delve a little deeper into why I have become so eager to support this platform as both a personal and business tool. I came late to the Twitter-sphere, originally only making my account to follow contacts in the professional world I admired, to keep up with their careers and lives.
Twitter was a list of conversation-starters for many months, little bits of information I could bring up in conversation about the happenings of important people (and by important, I’m talking about business executives and movie producers, not say, Kim Kardashian or Ashton Kutcher, the first to hit 1 million followers). It wasn’t until much later that I started adding friends on the bandwagon, as well as feeds from some of my favorite blogs and websites. In the last few months, I’ve made a big push to cull many of my friends and personal acquaintances from my Twitter feed to create a more business-like profile but much more intellectually stimulating than the bare-bones I had at the beginning.
Steven Johnson makes a poignant note in his article for the Time Magazine,
“…the most fascinating thing about Twitter is not what it’s doing to us. It’s what we’re doing to it.”
One of the most striking things I’ve found about Twitter as a social media tool is the accessibility and adaptability. I have chosen my route for Twitter, and it has obviously changed several times since I joined. I don’t claim anything wrong with those who use Twitter to record what they ate for breakfast that morning, and what party they’re going to that night, creating what technology write Clive Thompson deems “ambient awareness”. I get all the ambient awareness I can handle on Facebook, which allows Twitter to fall into a perfect niche. Peggy Orenstein in “I Tweet Therefore I Am” says:
The fun of Twitter and, I suspect, its draw for millions of people, is its infinite potential for connection, as well as its opportunity for self-expression.
Regardless of whether you use Twitter as a personal tool or for business, Twitter has redefined what we classify as identity. How you choose to use Twitter, to make it work for you defines a portion of who you are. It’s not just the Facebook debate over you are what you post, but you are now also who you follow, what discussions you choose to be a part of, what 3rd party programs you use with it. whether to upload photos, manage lists, or make posts from your smart phone. Twitter has become another digital facet of our continually expanding notion of identity.