There For Thousands of Eyes to See

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In Margaret Atwood’s article, “Atwood in the Twittersphere,” she reflects upon her beginning experiences using Twitter, which at first she thought “was for kiddies”. Twitter is a social network with which you can follow your friends, family, and even people you don’t know and be updated with whatever they post, or “tweet”. In the words of Atwood, “Let’s just say it’s communication, and communication is something human beings like to do.” Whether you’re engaging in conversations by commenting on others’ tweets or just throwing out your own lines of random thoughts, your every word is monitored by your followers. Atwood says comments about her own followers, “They’re sharp: make a typo and they’re on it like a shot, and they tease without mercy.”

A major difference between everyday verbal communication and written communication online is that what you submit through the Web remains there. Sure, Atwood’s spelling errors that are caught by her followers are not that great of a concern; but when it comes to saying things that you could regret later on, you’re out of luck. Atwood even reacts to her words published in her online article,

“Oops! I shouldn’t have said that. Which is typical of “social media”: you’re always saying things you shouldn’t have said…come to think of it: once decrees and blessings have made it out of the mouth—or now, in the 21st century, out of the ends of the fingers and past the Send button—you can’t take them back.”

This brings me back to Twitter and having followers. I followed Margaret Atwood today, and guess how many people are following her…392,290! That means that there are 784,580 eyeballs (thank you, phone calculator) that can be reading about anything from what she had for dinner to her thoughts on works that her fans send her to read. No matter what you decide to post online—whether it is something silly with little significance, something inspirational/informative or something you wish you hadn’t said—it will reside in cyberspace and may potentially be remembered by those who are connected to you. Even pictures are krazy-glued to the Web with the click of a mouse (what’s left of them) or a tap of a finger. My intention of this response is not to go all “Big Brother” on the idea of publishing things online. We all have posted something; it has become a part of life…and for some people, it is their life. I feel that we sometimes forget who our audience is; not only that, we don’t think before we type. We can believe that our actions online will disappear by logging out and shutting down our laptops…if only it was that simple! #besmart #thinkahead

Twitterverse

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

I was sitting in my Piano class as a sophomore in high school when I made my first Twitter account. I’m not sure exactly how I heard about this new social media phenomenon, but the idea of sending short little updates to the entire world was appealing. I tweeted my classmates as I was sitting across from them, and laughed at the senselessness of it all, but it kept me amused.

In her article, Atwood in the Twittersphere, Margaret Atwood poses an interesting question, asking “So what’s it all about, this Twitter? Is it signaling, like telegraphs? Is it Zen poetry?” (Atwood). I don’t even think that’s the beginning of explaining what this new craze is. From what I’ve seen over the past 4 years, Twitter provides an outlet to those who wish to speak their mind. I’ve come across tons of different kinds of accounts. Some actually use it professionally, like musicians, athletes, and professors. Others use it just to express their thoughts and to communicate with their friends. My personal favorite kind of accounts are ones that parody other things, such as TV characters.

As I continued to read Margaret Atwood’s article, she stated that someone sent her a tweet saying that “I love it when old ladies blog” (Atwood). I sat here and tried to picture this little old woman behind a laptop, skimming through the thoughts in her head to create a tweet. It just goes to show you how many different kinds of people are able to interact and participate in the Twittersphere or Twitterverse. No matter what coined term you use, this is a different kind of social media outlet that anyone can use. I’ve noticed that Twitter is mostly used by teenagers, celebrities, and super-fans of celebrities, but it’s nice to see the occasional outsider.

Now that I’ve sat here and rambled on about the use of Twitter who uses it, I’m finally going to get the point that I’ve been trying to make about permanence. Earlier I said that most Twitter users speak their mind and use this website to get all of their thoughts out. This is readable to anyone with an Internet connection. Tweets are basically open letters to the world. Once somebody reads your tweet, that’s it. It’s out there. Anyone can retweet it, quote you, save it on their phone or computers, take a picture of it, or send it along to someone else through different social media. Even if you decide to erase your tweet, it’s still there. Everything on the Internet has some kind of permanence.

So how does this affect an individual? You can’t take back what you say. With a website like this, which is accessible to anyone, everyone must be careful with what they say. We have the right to speak freely, but at the same time, this can be a dangerous tool. Those little thoughts that you Tweet might seem harmless, but they will always be there and may come back to haunt you one day. In short, watch what you say.

Love, Hope

PS- Happy tweeting.

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Free twitter badge (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 
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