This past summer I did something I thought I’d never do. I totally sold out my ideals and gave in to a popular trend. I turned to something that I was convinced would destroy us as a society. This past summer…I joined Twitter.
Trust me, there was no one more anti-Twitter than me. I thought it was just Facebook stripped of everything except status changes. I thought it was filled with people who had way too much time on their hands and just had to tell the world exactly what they were doing, no matter how inane or trivial it was. It was when Bill Simmons, a sportswriter for ESPN whom I idolize, joined Twitter that I decided to get in on the madness.
What Simmons did that swayed me was to use Twitter as a forum for observations about things he noticed in the world around him, and to post links to news stories and videos. He didn’t spend all of his time telling us how long the line at Starbucks was. After that, I decided to join in too. Now I don’t Tweet (we really need a new name for this thing) that much, but there are a couple things I’ve noticed about it. Is it somewhat idiotic? Yes. Are a lot of Tweets completely pointless? Yes. But is Twitter the next logical step in the communications revolution? The answer, at least in my mind, is yes.
Think about it. Twitter is becoming the fastest and most immediate way for information to spread. People with Twitter accounts don’t need to go to reporters anymore, with Twitter they can cut out the middleman and post news immediately for mass consumption. For example, when Paula Abdul left "American Idol," how did we find out? She posted the news to Twitter. In the NBA, when the Minnesota Timberwolves fired their coach, Kevin Love one of their players, posted the news on Twitter before the team made an official announcement.
Also, a few weeks ago on Entertainment Weekly’s Web site, there was an interesting article about how Twitter could dictate the box office success of movies. They said that when people go see movies, they go on Twitter to express their opinion about it, and if a lot of people hear a concurring opinion of a film from their peers, it will affect how many people go to see said movie. That’s why "G.I. Joe" was underwhelming at the box office, because everyone who saw it went on Twitter and said it sucked. I agree with this theory. For further evidence, look at Quentin Tarantino’s "Inglourious Basterds." That’s not exactly the most mainstream movie, but it’s become a huge hit, and the positive word of mouth on Twitter may have played a part in that.
You know, what? Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe in the next few years Twitter will completely fade away and things will stay the way they are. If that happens, feel free to call me an idiot (God knows I will). But you can’t deny that Twitter has made, and will continue to make, an impact on our culture, 140 characters at a time.