One great part about summer is the spike in non-work related conversations. Weekends at the shore, dinner with friends, tennis with university and graduate students from near and far. I can’t leave well enough alone, though, and usually start asking questions about how others use technology, and specifically their use of mobile devices and the internet in general. The shocker was when the majority of people in my small, unscientific sample, said that (with a few qualifications) Twitter is for losers.
They also said that if I made that the headliine of a blog, the majority of Tweets that would mention what I am writing now would be from people who did not take the time to read the blog, but instead would just tear apart the 24 letters, period, and four spaces. Because they are losers. After the shock on my part, and the looks of ‘get real’ from the others, I asked more questions and got some better answers. They were of completly different minds when it came to using Twitter during the elections in Iran. They saw this ability to rapidly disseminate the reality of a situation as amazing. But then one of those asked came back with, “I didn’t see any surge in Tweets from Darfur.” And another said, “Yeah, but in Iran some of the Tweets were faked.” They thought it skewed attention away from other, equally compelling stories, such as China and Africa where the population may not have access to expensive internet services.
In one group of 12 people that I spoke with in Stony Creek, Connecticut, they saw the positive side of Twitter for breaking news and for closer contact with associates, but also saw it as distracting, unsecure, and subject to manipulation because of its uneven spread. These 12 were mostly business owners (3) and professors (6).
So who said it was for losers? University students and recent college Grads. They said there was something very ‘post 9/11′ about needing to hunker down and vicariously feel a part of the glitter of the stars, even if from your coccoon you would never be in their constellation.
Finally, I was surprised that of about 36 people I talked to, not one of them was actively on Twitter. The education levels were university students, to BA, MA, PhD, DDS, MD – and almost all called the East Coast of the US their home, though many were born elsewhere in the world. Maybe I need to vacation further afield, and soon.
So, it is eye opening, and I would love more insight on the statistics of who is on Twitter – the psychographic and demographic models of the most active participants, and the breakdown between business users versus open ended social interaction / discourse. If anyone knows credible sources of data, let me know, please.
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