No Texts Please, We’re Tweeting

Social Networking websites are ten a penny nowadays aren’t they? You can integrate your Instagram with your Facebook and upload a video to Youtube while you Tumblr about doing it, but by and large, one of the simplest social media platforms has in fact had one of the biggest impacts. The humble Twitter, just 140 characters to say something profound, or more often something that you think is profound but actually makes you sound like an idiot, to whoever chooses to ‘follow’ you and hope they find it interesting/helpful/informative/motivating etc. Aside from the Internet gangsters who make outlandish remarks hiding behind the safety of their keyboards, there aren’t many faults to be found with the worlds eleventh most popular site, here are four genuine ways that twitter has improved, aided or replaced the media stalwarts.

1. It is now unnecessary to watch the news or buy a newspaper.

In the dark ages, pre-2006 when Twitter was launched, you had to watch the  TV or buy a newspaper, or listen to the radio –  at the very least wait for one of your Facebook friends to misunderstand and post a status  – to find out what was happening in the world. Today, you don’t even need to waste energy typing into Google, your timeline will tell you when celebrities have died, what the weather is like and the football scores and all you have to do is read the information in helpful bite-size chunks. You will however, have to contend with people musing endlessly over a dead topic, because apparently there are a million and one opinions to be had on ‘there will be sun today’.

2. Twitter allows you to ‘watch’ TV without having to use your eyes.

We all know TV viewing figures are rapidly dwindling and its no surprise considering the schedules these days are mostly made up of reality shows and sitcom repeats, but when there is something particularly good on, and you fear you may miss it,  there’s no need to Sky Plus or iplayer it – twitter will literally be able to give you a frame-by-frame breakdown of what is happening on screen. The bad side of this is obviously spoilers, I’ve had many an Apprentice ‘I-wonder-who-SurAlan-will-fire?’ moment stolen away from me, but on the upside, I could probably write a dissertation on Eastenders episodes of the past month, despite not having watched the show since 2009.

3. It makes radio truly interactive

Talksport/Choice/1xtra, whatever your station of choice, twitter has enabled listeners to instantly be able to interact with radio presenters and get views across. BET and BBC News even use peoples tweets as starting points for discussions, but smaller platforms like Muzikradio really do owe all their popularity to twitter. On a Thursday night, timelines are flooded with the the Muzikradio hashtag, with everyone discussing the topics or the stupidity of the callers opinions and there’s always that one person still asking for a link to listen in.

4. A RT is more effective than an advert

Advertising can be a tricky game, especially when there are so many ways to avoid it, so twitter has become a promotions dream when its so easy to subtly tweet links to this and that to your followers, soliciting a support network that will re-tweet you and get your link multiplied all over twitterland. Every company and brand has a twitter presence and a person is more likely to click a link on a tweet out of sheer curiosity than to click on any flashing banner on any website, making it a far more effective way to advertise.

Twitter is basically social action theorist Max Weber’s wet dream – it has allowed the individual to impact the whole, twitter would be nothing if it weren’t for the celebrities – real and twittermade – and all the people who interact with them. I’m not going to lie, I was smiling for hours when Jonathon Ross replied to a tweet I sent him, and I think this is why Twitter is helping to evolve traditional media institutions – it breaks down the barriers between the audience and the creators, turning it all into one big, speculative sphere of interaction.

Do you think twitter is the epitome of new media? Do you get all your news and information using Ubertwitter or Echofon? Or do you think its just a bit of fun and not that deep? let us know in the comments!


Monica Rahman