Sunday, March 07, 2010

The Cult of Twitter

TWITTER IS A CULT, which I am ashamedly a member of. Why is Twitter a cult? Only certain people use it--my older sister, and, it seems, the rest of the American teenage population, shies away from it in favor of social networking sites. We Twitter users, cult followers, even have our own secret words--"direct message" and "retweet" and "hashtag." Are these words which any normal person would keep in their everyday vocabulary? And really professional Twitter users don't even update from Twitter online; they use their phones and remote updating tools like TweetDeck or TweetCaster or Twitterific. I say "remote updating tool"--clunky word!--because I can't think of the official term. I'm sure there is one.

For reasons which are beyond me, it doesn't seem as though Twitter is very popular among the thirteen to eighteen crowd. Sure, Twitter is home to such celebrities as Ashton Kutcher and Taylor Swift, but that's not a powerful enough draw--after all, they're on Facebook, too. Why would any sane, multi-tasking teenager go for such a seemingly single-function site like Twitter when they can update status, play games, take quizzes, chat, and make friends on Facebook? On the other hand (and this is just conjecture), professionals might not feel any great need for chat, games, and quizzes, so Twitter works just fine for them. It still doesn't answer the question, though, because so many "professional" adults post so much worthless stuff on Twitter. I mean (and I paraphrase), "I ate a cheeseburger today with my son." Do we need to know this? It's posts like that that earn Twitter a bad name, mister! Think about that!

Ultimately, it's Twitter's random exclusivity--its "cult-ness"--that makes it exciting and interesting for some, and irritatingly senseless to others. So next time you scratch your head trying to understand Twitter, remember: you're trying to look into a club whose windows can be pretty opaque. Twitter is hard to understand from the outside (and sometimes, even harder from the inside). Nevertheless, it's home to an interesting and diverse group of people, and it's fun to act anthropologist and investigate why people join Twitter. If you want to learn about generous people, bored people, silly people, happy people, smart people, people who can cramp tons of content into 140 letters--it's  on Twitter. And unlike most cults or clubs, Twitter doesn't discriminate about its members. Then again, you might heed Groucho Marx's words: "I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member." The people on Twitter, apparently, don't have any such concerns.

March 7th, 2010


  1. And now I'll Tweet and Plurk this to my friends. :-)

  2. Anonymous11:07 AM

    you're probably right about twitter, but i believe most people would assume that your assumption is incorrect. i, however, am not one of those people and agree with you completely.

  3. Anonymous12:54 PM

    Well said, not to mention you are a better writer than most people that I know in college.

  4. Surely a cult and I've seen - also means for advertisements, for example product launches. It can get very spamy - depends whom you are following.
    I try to only follow those who give value and are inspirational.

  5. i agree witya, shold stay aloof n approach it rationaly.

  6. Anonymous10:14 AM

    I agree with you completely, most people have turned something that started out as a way to communicate with other people into a stalker-like cult. More people follow celebrities, just to here the useless "tweets" they give.

  7. Interesting point of view you have. I would argue that twitter is less of a cult and more of a fad. Like you stated, there is nothing that twitter can do that at least a handful of other tools can do too.