It amazes me that Twitter is becoming so popular in our social lives. Millions of people coming together around some kind of function and putting forth ideas, beliefs, fact-checks, and insults is both exciting and fun. My first real experience with Twitter was during the 2012 presidential debates as I have mentioned in my “Digital Defiance” blog. Listening to the news anchors on television talk about the millions of live tweets, tweets that I had engaged in, made me feel connected to my fellow viewers. Before I was in my WRT232 class, I was, in a way, against Twitter and other forms of social media. Although I have been a very casual Facebook user for a number of years, I never really cared about it that much. Bottom line, before WRT232, I was just not into social media. Being calm, cautious, and low key is just what I am by nature, and there is really no place for that in the realm of new media. Even through the first couple weeks of class I remained skeptical of the whole thing. It was not until the first debate that I discovered what Twitter was really about. It was also then that I determined that Twitter was becoming a second platform for political and social discourse which has both negative and positive aspects.
Like I said in “Digital Defiance” and above, I was never into social media, but now I find myself looking at Twitter on a daily basis. There is something almost addicting to it. I know that it is ultimately pointless, and I often think about how none of my “real” friends are even on Twitter, but I still look anyway. For example during television programs I watch and things going on in the news are things that I frequently look for on Twitter.
I think a lot of it has to do with the feeling of participation, rather the illusion of participation. During the debates, it was really cool seeing what everyone had to say about certain things and what really peaked the interest of the users. On top of that it was really cool to feel connected with other viewers, and it’s really cool to “hear” everyone’s voice. It’s all very cool. But that’s it. It is just cool. Like a novelty item, it serves no function other than to amuse us. The news anchors say that there are millions and millions of tweets during the debates…And? So what? Are Romney and Obama going to change their plans because of it? are my own opinions really going to change because of Twitter trends? Not very likely, which is why I say it is just a novelty. Let me just be clear; I am not at all trashing Twitter, I have recently discovered how to enjoy it and the function it serves. All I am stating is that the function Twitter serves in regard to political discourse in all reality is pointless. For instance, my classmate Anthony (@RealTonyRone) and I could go back and forth on this issue all day (see fig 2), but when all is said and done nothing will have changed. We may agree to disagree, but that will still leave us with divided opinions, which is just a normal part of being human.
Regardless of what I have to say, there is no doubt that live tweeting the debates was a very popular thing for users to do. There was so many tweets that it was impossible to keep up with all of them. By the time I got through ten tweets, much less respond to anyone, there would be forty new ones. That was something I actually found a bit annoying. I cannot understand how anyone could read every single tweet. It is said that everyone’s voice can be heard on Twitter, but I do not think that is true. When I think about this I wonder if other users realize what I am talking about. It brings into question the Slate article I read in class which talks about how Twitter is going to start gauging itself toward offering a more passive experience for its users. For me, it already is a passive experience. Nothing about it really educated me in political matters, nor swayed my opinions on anything. It was just a fun and somewhat interesting thing to do with my hands while watching these debates. It is these reasons that I am skeptical about the role of social media like Twitter in regard to political discourse.