Exactly one month ago, I started my experiment with twitter. Although I had done about five tweets or so (between November 2009 and March 2010) before I restarted my twitter account, I had not fully understood how things worked. A friend helped me out.
So, with a goal in mind, I have set about slowly trying to work towards that end using twitter.
I then quickly decided to try out blogging five days later, especially because the 140 character limit made it more difficult for me to respond in (some) depth to events and issues as I was reading tweets and following the news.
So, I have been blundering through, on my own, figuring out how to post to my blog (although I had done some blogging for my department several months earlier).
It’s quite exciting (and scary) to follow some events as they unfold. For example, I have been following @RevolutionSyria – Syrian Revolution – and sometimes when I have followed the link from the tweet, I have found myself as the second or third viewer (according to the YouTube views counter) and watched the brutality of some of the regime’s thugs or unarmed protestors subjected to off-screen shooting.
Voices shouting in Arabic adds to the confusion (if you don’t know what it is that people are saying or you don’t have journalists providing voice-overs).
Yet RevolutionSyria also makes some tweets in English which have helped me to understand what is happening and where the events are taking place. So, its tweets were providing information and links well ahead of what I was hearing, reading or watching via (English-language) radio, newspapers and television, and it made me realise at the same time how widespread (and courageous) is the opposition to the Syrian regime.
Unlike films and tv shows, however, there is no certainty about what will happen as you are watching these videos. One video that I watched on YouTube a couple of weeks ago, really made me apprehensive and I feared for the life of a young man that some soldiers had dragged over and forced to lie on the ground: I thought they would shoot him (the video ended and I was relieved that I didn’t see such a horrible action unfold but at the same time I wondered what happened to the young man).
It’s these kinds of actions, though, that should also make people realise that ‘twitter’ and ‘facebook’ and ‘blogging’ may enable protestors everywhere to express their anger and frustration against corrupt and immoral regimes, as has been happening with the ‘Arab Spring’, but we also have to realise that these are not substitutes for the organising of demonstrations, rallies and groups to oppose and promote democracy.
They don’t begin to recognise the years of protests, beatings, imprisonment and murders undergone by Arab organisers and activists. The courage of these civilians in Syria (and elsewhere) is not something produced by social media!
Another (more mundane) aspect of twitter that I find interesting is the different types of people who start following you. Sometimes, you have to wonder why they are doing so, at least after reading their (brief) profiles.
Martin calls some types of these followers ‘twitterspam’. They follow you until you start following them but there is frequently no apparent overlap of interests.
I have found that as my number of followers increases, others ‘unfollow’.
Also, I sometimes wonder if the people I am re-tweeting are already being followed by those who are following me – and whether they get annoyed with that. I suppose that is another definition of ‘twitterspam’!
More interesting – and flattering – is when you have a tweet or blog post (re)tweeted as it indicates that someone has found something that you have said or a link that you’ve found to be of interest.
I also find it addictive when I am feeling a wee bit bored of working (I suppose if you do this sort of thing at work, you might easily get distracted from the job at hand!).
I know it has only been one month and I am enjoying it – at times immensely – and at other times I feel frustrated because it feels so limited – always reading other people’s material. As I asked a few posts ago, are we all just talking to ourselves? People who would have been out trying to organise demonstrations and groups and campaigns?
I am still figuring out what I think of it, but I do find it has some advantages and I have been finding it, as I said earlier, fairly addictive!