Ian Phillips ’10
Created in 2006 by Jack Dorsey, the social networking site Twitter suddenly became a worldwide phenomenon this year.
What separates Twitter from most social networking sites is that it functions simply as a status updater. Mini-statuses, called “tweets,” allow the user to express themselves in 140 characters or less.
It started off as a simple communication tool, yet suddenly gained major social relevance earlier this year. It’s actively used by numerous US politicians to inform followers on various governmental decisions. Twitter was also used during the Iranian presidential election protests in June as a way of communicating with the outside world after the government shut down various other communication sources.
Twitter has caught on in the Staples community as well. While Facebook remains a major tool for students to connect with friends and peers, some enjoy the simplicity that Twitter provides.
“The simplistic setting of it all was appealing…it was like updating your Facebook status twice, three times in one day without the guilt,” Robert Mathis ’10 said.
Other students agree that social networking sites such as Myspace and Facebook provide too much, and that 140-character limit is just right.
“[Facebook and MySpace] just seem too cluttered to me…Twitter gives me access to just the right amount of social networking, without any of the extra stuff that you get elsewhere,” Matthew Colodny ’10 said.
“There is no profile to look through or any of those bells and whistles that come with Facebook or MySpace,” Molly Bea Shulman ’10 said.
Twitter can be used as a way to connect with friends, and even celebrities. Some people use it to promote their products, while others use it just to talk about their regular lives and maybe tell a few jokes. Many Staples Twitter users take full advantage of this. Shulman decided to send actor Kevin Nealon a compliment about his show “Weeds” via Twitter, and to her surprise, he responded.
“It’s not that big of a deal, but the fact that you are able to communicate with celebrities is fun, and it brings everyone a little closer. It just shows they are regular people just like us,” Shulman said.
Twitter has also become a tool for companies to promote their products. For example, the New York Times tweets every time a new article comes out, and the comedy website FunnyorDie.com updates its followers whenever it releases a new video.
Max Stampa–Brown ’10 uses Twitter to promote his music and his blog. Since joining Twitter, Stampa–Brown has seen a huge surge in followers.
However, even to people like him, those updates aren’t meant for marketing, but purely as updates.
“[I joined] to keep my extended family updated with my life,” Stampa–Brown said.
Despite huge popularity, Twitter is still only used amongst a small group of people at Staples. Its impact in the future is still debatable, even amongst those who use it.
“In general, history has presented us with the fact that 140 characters or less can’t change the world, let alone the community,” Mathis said.
Some don’t view the niche-like following at Staples as such a negative thing, though.
“It’s a little bit of a subculture right now…if you and someone else have a Twitter, that’s automatically a rare thing you have in common with them,” Adam Bangser ’10 said.
Social networking is all about creating community, and at Staples, Twitter is growing into a world of its own.
Correction: The article should say “140 characters,” not “140 words.”