I never understood Twitter, but now I finally get it. #egypt #eqnz #qldfloods
Twitter has never really been my thing, I mean, I’ve never really seen the benefit of it – why would anyone want to follow me? I’m sure no-one will ‘Retweet’ what I had for lunch and I’ve never fully understood how hash tags work. With Facebook, I can keep in touch with family and friends and set my privacy options on lockdown; Twitter on the other hand doesn’t discriminate and relays your thoughts to everyone.
While I’m not comfortable with strangers knowing what’s going on inside my head, people who are unable to speak freely in their own countries are using social media to share their thoughts for social change – it was a YouTube video that helped spark the people’s revolution in Egypt, supported by a worldwide Twitter conversation using the hash tags #egypt and #jan25.
The recent natural disasters in Queensland and Christchurch has seen a rush of people take to Twitter and Facebook providing live updates direct from people on the ground, including photos/video and tweets from people abroad offering their condolences and messages of support.
Over the past few weeks I’ve had late nights glued to the computer screen tabbing between Al-Jazeera’s live stream, Facebook, YouTube and warming up to Twitter as a keen observer and occasional contributor, fascinated by the real-time worldwide conversation from people in Christchurch, North Queensland and The Middle East.
Countries with repressive regimes control traditional mass media sources: television, radio and newspaper. Anyone who speaks out against the government may disappear without a trace and it’s often difficult for the population to get their opinion across en masse…that was before Facebook and Twitter hit the scene.
Citizen journalism through social media can be seen as a threat. Egypt and Libya have controlled the flow of information in and out of the country by shutting down the internet, restricting people from using social media sites which many believe has played a major role in the demonstrations. A new Egyptian father even named his daughter ‘Facebook’ in honor of the role the website had played in the recent revolution.
Events in last few weeks have changed my Twitter perceptions and even though I’m still not a huge ‘tweeter’ – as an observer and re-tweeter, I finally get it.
How long did it take you to “get” a social networking channel and what changed your mind?