Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Social Network

Social media has been on the rise since the '90s. Starting with MySpace, progressing through Facebook, and  continuing with Twitter and Instagram. I, for one, never participated in MySpace; Facebook was my first venture into social networking when it was still restricted to college students. Since then I've joined LinkedIn, the professional network, and I dabbled in Pinterest for about a week before calling it quits (I didn't really understand it and didn't want to deal with it after my interest fizzled).

Three days ago, however, I joined a new "club:" Twitter. At first, I didn't understand it. I wasn't interested in joining these millions of networks not knowing who was going to bump into my account. However, my interest grew insidiously from recommendations from friends and siblings, so eventually I caved. And, to my own surprise, I am hooked. Within 24 hours I found myself incessantly checking statuses and searching for new people to follow. So far my collection includes various sports analysts, Chelsea soccer, Barcelona Soccer, Giants Football, Paula Deen, Snooki, some of the Kardashians, Brit Brit, Ricky Gervais, Aziz Ansari, E! News, a bunch of friends, and more. Needless to say, I rarely find myself bored these days since there are always new tweets and instagrams to check up on. No wonder this has caught like wildfire and sucked me in with it!

While I'm completely in love with twitter, it has caused me to once again reflect on American culture. Aside from the friend who urged me to join, most others have had that "why would you do that?" response when I've shared with them my new obsession. But is it really that shocking? Just as facebook was (and arguably still is) a means of instant procrastination with a sense of social belonging, twitter offers that same gratification. Even Pinterest, which I still don't buy into, is loved by many, many of my friends... social belonging is fulfilled by pinning to your friends boards, its a wonderful means of procrastination, and it triggers pleasure centers in your brain looking at pictures of delicious goodies, beautiful places to visit, or creative projects you're dying to try... albeit this is more of a network geared towards girls since you can post an unimaginable amount of the above mentioned goodies, travel sites, or DIY (do-it-yourself) projects.

Twitter offers all those same feelings of social ties, but adds the sense of actual interaction with your favorite celebrities, politicians, sports announcers, sports teams, athletes, organizations, etc. What could be better than watching the X-Factor and feeling like your hanging with Brit Brit as she tweets through the entire show about her feelings regarding the contestants? Or how about getting a play-by-play of your favorite soccer match while at the laundromat? Or getting to hear the sass of your favorite comedian throughout the day? It's instant entertainment at any given moment. Plus you get to add in your own 2 cents whenever you feel like it.

Now, I'm not a spokesperson, but I imagine this is what any advocate of twitter would argue and then some. However, I will admit I waste an incessant amount of time these days waiting for my job to start so I had to entertain myself with something and twitter happened to find me at the right time. And because of that, I felt the need to share with you what I've learned about this bit of American culture gone wild: it can be quite addictive.

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