While I was watching election night results, it was reported that at 11:19 PM (EST) 327,000 tweets per minute–including one from the President–were sent. Twitter has been around since 2006, allowing the user to send and receive text-based messages of up to 140 characters, known as “tweets.” And, I thought blogs were short! So, why is tweeting making such an impact? And, what is it exactly?
Twitter’s founder, Jack Dorsey, said: “…we came across the word ‘twitter’ and it was just perfect. The definition was ‘a short burst of inconsequential information,’ and ‘chirps from birds’. And that’s exactly what the product was.” (David Sano, “Twitter Creator Jack Dorsey Illuminates the Site’s Founding Document” in The Los Angeles Times, February 18, 2009)
Twitter has even had a global impact when in 2011 the Egypt’s revolution was organized through social media and dubbed the “Twitter Revolution.”
But, how has all this inconsequential information sharing and chirping affected the way we nurture relationship and community? I know many grandparents of college-age young people who have succumbed and set up accounts because this is the way their cherubs prefer to communicate. I used to write letters–the way they preferred to hear from me.
Many people take this real-time information to be the truth in real time. At the height of Hurricane Sandy, FEMA felt the repercussions of folks sitting in sunny weather with good intentions serving as go-betweens and putting out “up-to-the-minute information” between Sandy, its victims, and FEMA–some of which might not have been accurate. Not a good thing.
It’s only been nine days since Sandy barreled up the East Coast, destroying lives and property. Living life in Twitter time doesn’t allow us to walk with our neighbor for as long as they need us. While folks in New York and New Jersey, Haiti and parts of the Caribbean are still without power, the world is just waiting for the next short burst to go viral.
What do you think about Twitter? Do you use it? Do you follow it? Do you follow @WomenoftheELCA?
Tweet: What does it look like when thousands give to ELCA Disaster Relief fund? Do it!