When I first heard about Twitter a few years ago, I dismissed it as just another fad that people would get tired of eventually. I did read a few people's Twitter pages, and they mostly Tweeted stuff like, "Going to work. Ugh," or "This is a yummy lunch," along with a picture of whatever they were eating, or a string of "@s" that just said stuff like "LOL!" It didn't really hold my interest, especially since I don't really care about what other people are eating, unless they're going to share their food with me (because, you know, free food!).
I also dismissed it because I suspected that several of my students, who were constantly tapping on their phones during class, were either on Twitter or Facebook. (Side note: I can't help wondering if the current generation was born with tiny cell phones clutched in their fists, because they never let go of their phones.) I disliked any kind of distraction that kept them from focusing on the lesson, and I didn't really see the point of being on Twitter OR Facebook.
My opinion of social networking sites slowly changed after I started blogging. Before I started this blog, I was too shy to show my work to anyone, unless I was in a creative writing class and I HAD to share it with other people. I kept my writing hidden in notebooks, and I kept my dream of becoming a writer hidden from almost everyone.
What I like about blogging is that it gave me the opportunity to "meet" other people, many of whom were writers, who I probably never would have met otherwise. I like reading everyone's blog posts, and I like the "dialogue" that we all get to have, not just in our blog posts but in the comments that we leave for each other.
I set up my own Twitter page a few months ago, partly because of two people who were on Twitter: Joyce Carol Oates and Pope Francis. As a Catholic, I admire Pope Francis, especially because he seems to be very open-minded and is working hard to make some much-needed changes in the Church.
As a writer, I admire Joyce Carol Oates; I always thought she would be one of those writers who shun social networking sites in order to focus exclusively on their novels or short stories. But she Tweets frequently, and even though I don't agree with everything that she writes, it's still fascinating to follow her train of thought.
I started following many other writers and agents on Twitter, as well as a couple literary magazines. It's a good way to find out about writing contests and agents and magazines that are accepting submissions. It's also a good way to find out about new books that other people have written.
I also follow a lot of "joke bloggers", people who write witty and funny one-liners. Some of them are celebrities, like Conan O'Brien, Steve Martin, and Ellen DeGeneres. Others are stand-up comedians or just regular people with a great sense of humor. Reading these people's jokes makes standing in line, my daily commute, and dealing with annoying people a lot easier, especially because doing those things gives me something to Tweet about (and it gives me something to do when I'm on my commute or standing in line).
When I'm having a stressful day, logging onto Twitter and reading about what's going through people's minds often makes me feel better, especially when they Tweet something that makes me think, Yes! I thought I was the only one who felt that way!
I also like that you can "star" or retweet people's Tweets; it always makes my day when someone does that to what I've written, because it makes me feel good that other people are reading and liking what I'm writing. I like being able to "talk" to other people on Twitter, especially because similar to online dating, it's much easier to start a conversation with someone online than to just go up and introduce yourself to an interesting person in real life.
I think that a lot of people join social networking sites like Twitter because they want to make connections with others. It's not the same as an offline connection, of course, but it's still something that makes people, including me, happy. And I think it makes everyone feel like they're not alone.
Twitter and this blog allow me to express myself, because so much of "real life" consists of me holding my tongue; I know that if I say what I'm really thinking in real life, I'd get in trouble. But I can say what I want to say online (though I do censor myself in many ways, just in case), without as much fear that people will attack/criticize/reject me as a result. A fellow Twitter user, who calls herself Sigourney Beaver, Tweeted this recently, and I think it's something that applies to a lot of people, including me: "I'm more myself here than I am in some real life situations because I've
just learnt to censor things. This place can be my escape sometimes."
What about you? What do you like about social networking sites, whether it's Twitter, blogging, Facebook, etc.?
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