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Until very recently I didn't really get Twitter. It always seemed to me to be Facebook's inferior cousin. You know like when you watch the remake of The Karate Kid and just think, "There isn't anything wrong with it but what does it actually add to the franchise?" There are a few reasons however why Twitter is taking more chunks out of my time by the day whereas my interest in facebook is on the wane.
For the people who don't know, Twitter is a social networking site that allows you to share your thoughts with other people online. Where it differs from the likes of myspace, Bebo and facebook is that it doesn't offer anywhere near the amount of bells and whistles that these and many other sites do. If you want games and applications Twitter is not the place to be. If you want to listen to music by new bands or watch videos Twitter will offer you nothing but links to other sites. Stripped down to the bare bones Twitter offers you just one thing, the ability to express yourself to the twittering community in no more 140 characters or less.
Yep, that is not a typo. Just 140 characters which includes spaces and punctuation. Of course if you want to ramble more you can link to offsite blogs etc but fundamentally Twitter is about being short and sweet and this is one of the things I have come to love about it. No rambling melancholic posts about 97% of people not posting this status on their walls, no endless links to crappy music videos, just people sharing their short opinions on their World.
As you have so little space to say what you think you find yourself getting creative with your text to squeeze out those characters. Refreshingly despite the overwhelming temptation, a lot of people don't resort to text/online speak so U do not get 2 much of this kind of stuff to read! Joining is very easy requiring only one page of name, username and password stuff to get going initially. This is much more pleasant than wading through the now multiple pages you get when you join the majority of sites although you have to be creative with your username as some outlandish ones are taken. Of course once joined up you can add the usual personalisation to your viewing profile including avatars, backgrounds and a short bio. However, this is a stripped down service so you won't need to be constantly titivating as it is more about what you say rather than how pretty things are. The whole site is very streamlined in predominantly white and black and this makes it very easy to navigate and a joy to the eyes. Indeed, it is so streamlined that you can quite happily use it on your mobile and post a new tweet via text. It is all about the speed and ease of use.
What marks out Twitter from other sites is the anonymity it can give you if you so wish. There is a certain freedom of speech on here that you simply do not get on facebook. Whereas everyone from your work colleagues and your nan will probably see what you have written in your latest facebook status. If you choose an anonymous username you can be free to say whatever you please with the repercussions of a telling off from your mum! Unlike facebook, Twitter isn't about friends but rather about following and being followed (which isn't as stalky as it sounds and isn't competitive). You can "follow" the updates or tweets of people you know, groups that interest you and even celebrities and if you write interesting things people may in turn "follow" you with things appearing in a timeline. Of course to follow people you know you need to know their username to find them hence the joy of anonymity. However, the real fun is to be had in following the people that interest you outside of your social circle. Random strangers often have some fascinating and funny things to say. The ability to follow your favourite celebrities gives a certain humanity to them as they are more often than not refreshingly more candid online than they would be off. Seeing into the mind of some of my favourite people like Stephen Fry and up and coming comedian Chris Ramsey is great stuff and with the ability to comment on their tweets you often get a reply.
Of course Twitter isn't all a bed of virtual roses. These celebrities ramblings are all well and good but the amount of obviously fake accounts out there are astounding. Only a few of the celebrity profiles are "verified" by the celebs themselves so you have to be wise to the ones that probably aren't. How was Dom Joly tweeting regularly from the jungle on "I'm a celebrity get me out of here" are some of the questions you need to ask yourself. Also prefer yourself to be disappointed by some of your heroes with comedian Jason Manford being a perfect example:
There is also the bizarre thing of "trending" in which the most popular things talked about in your area or around the world are listed in a top ten. Some of these things start some interesting debates whereas some are just bizarre including Everton's Phil Neville becoming a worldwide phenomenon and at time of writing thousands of people including the word "bumhole" in film titles! There is also the problem of self promotion with people posting links to countless weird and wonderful things from there blogs to cashback sites. My general rule of thumb is don't click on any link unless you are sure it is taking you somewhere you want to be. That rule certainly applies here.
However, with the ability to view, update or tweet very quickly on either a mobile or on the internet I find myself using Twitter more and more. In general, people on this site are far more interesting than elsewhere and there is less of the, "I just went the toilet" types of posts here than on any other social networking site. The anonymity I have gives me a freedom to express myself or vent on current events and as a genuine alternative to facebook, it is worth a gander.