A simple question, “What are you doing?” has enchanted over 50 million people around the world as they in no more than 140 characters communicate with each other.
Amazing isn’t it? Well, that is the crux of the resounding success of Twitter and its growing power to change the way we discourse with one another and how we view each other.
Both imposing and begging for an answer, Twitter’s question bellows across all religious, cultural and political divides. It doesn’t matter what time of the day it is, where you are and who you are with, the question seemingly looms overhead as a guardian angel. Ever present and going nowhere slowly.
Overshadowing the traditional practice of blogs and text messages (SMS), Twitter has become the medium of choice for the ordinary man on the street set on communicating with the rest of the world.
I, for one, have also joined the Twitter network since I fancy myself to be tech-savvy. I ‘tweet’ (the action of posting messages on the site). My first post ran out as, “Feel like a baby-taking my first steps in Twitter”.
Of course, I now have the hang of things and have familiarised with navigating my way around the website.
So what kind of things exactly do people ‘tweet’ about?
Well, just about everything under the sun. From books, cars, famous people and the hot political issues of the day.
I particularly found one discussion calling tweeters (the people signed up for Twitter) to make comments on great books and one Financial Times columnist, Gideon Rachman, talking of the Bible said, “God made the world in six days. Respect”.
Short and straight, to the point. I could never have said it better myself.
Far more important than everything else that has been raised by various schools of thought as attributing to Twitter’s niche is its ability to challenge people to express themselves clearly and straight to the point. Surely, if one can’t say what is on their mind in 140 characters, chances are high they would never be able to, even after being given all the words in the world.
As people are increasingly becoming time-conscious these days, many increasingly want to know with precision what is happening in the world without going through the pain of having to unravel everything through long winding texts.
This need seemingly casts a gloomy picture on the future of blogs and newspapers, presenting on the other hand a wealth of opportunity for Twitter to have the whole world on its knees ‘tweeting’ away for information and news.
Twitter’s role as a source of disseminating news concisely was seen during the controversial Iran elections in June this year. Protesters in Iran used Twitter to send ‘tweets’ to the rest of world telling of the ruthlessness they were suffering at the hands of the Iranian army personnel. ‘Tweets’ such as, “The regime shows its face-it is not a pretty one” served to express the frustration of Iranian people at the rejection of calls for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to step down.
Also following the death of the Gloved One in late June, Twitter was again the medium used by fans as they mourned the King of Pop’s death. ‘Tweets’ such as “This is it-no MJ, no comeback, no concerts-R.I.P”, featured prominently as shell-shocked fans anticipating mega size performances by Michael Jackson at London’s O2 spread the word of his sudden death.
After all is said and done, one thing is for certain, Twitter is here to stay and for a long time while at that. I guess as long as people are up to something in their lives, it gives Twitter all the more a strong reason for being around and continue to ask, “What are you doing?”
A case of being Big Brother perhaps?