A Twitter takeover may be imminent in today’s culture

Claire O'Halloran

“Soon enough you’ll just be talking to each other through computer chips in your brains!” said almost every elderly person, ever.  But after politely chuckling at the all too frequently used technology joke, I realize the somewhat daunting truth that they are calling attention to.  There have been countless discussions over the influence of technology on our generation, and clear positives and negatives have been distinguished.  Of these technologies, different types of social media outlets have swept the globe and made it possible for people to connect with hardly any face-to-face interactions. Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat,  LinkedIn,Twitter. Twitter, specifically, may have started off as appearing seemingly pointless, but is now an application that is used by an unbelievable amount of people internationally.  Here users share a particular daily occurrence with the public in 140 characters or less. Personally, I didn’t see the point. But that was before I started using it.  Now, I admit with a slight sense of embarrassment, but mostly a feeling of pride, that I am one of the users who publicly announces clichés about the Titter world being “where I come alive.” There is a certain thrill to checking your Twitter and seeing that faint blue line under the notifications icon.      That tiny line holds so much promise. Is it a favorite? A retweet? A mention? A new follower? The possibilities are endless. But I’m not the only one that feels this way, because there are about 200 million other users by my side, many of whom aren’t college freshman girls spending most of their 140 characters on complaints about a lack of motivation, or their dogs. The Twitter scene has expanded and is no longer just a social outlet, but in many ways it is a professional one too.  Professional Development classes, such as ASPD 2 for the Arts and Sciences College, are stressing the importance of networking and keeping up with companies of interest in order to gain information about possible jobs and internships. For example, ‘Tweet Chats’ allow users to follow certain hashtags in order to stay up to date on information about a topic or group.  This expands the use of Twitter from a solely social app to a possible networking device.  This movement towards a more professional manner of social media gives our tech-savvy generation a head start in the increasingly media dependent world. It was about a month ago that my mom emailed me asking if I could please explain to her what her company’s director meant when he said to start tweeting and “to” include a “hashtag.”  The concept of retweeting someone was confusing, and don’t even get her started on the difficulty of trying to search for someone else’s account in the search bar. After emailing her back with what was essentially my own version of “Twitter for Dummies,” she was finally able to get a general idea of how to utilize tweets to spread knowledge about her work. Our generations leg up on understanding the in’s and out’s of social media networking may be beneficial, yet there is a dependence on it that is somewhat concerning.  If a site like Twitter provides the capability of connecting with a business professional, how long will it take until 140 characters is the more efficient way of contacting a company, or a friend or a family member than a phone call is? The impersonality of new age technology was recently demonstrated by Malaysia airlines notifying grieving families’ of the discovery that no passengers were left alive on flight 370 through a text.  A text message, perhaps the least personal of all communication channels, was used to tell families that there was no more hope of finding their loved ones.  This text stirred a huge public controversy and many people believe that the airline company mishandled the situation.  The wave of technology and social media normalcy is one with its ups and downs, and personally, I see the benefits more often than not.  We are able to connect in thousands of different ways, and can use sites like Twitter for self-expression and for informational or professional purposes. As for the continuing dependency on it though, it is important that the commonality of sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, do not become substitutes for real life interactions.  This seems obvious, but when tweeting and texting become the easier way of reuniting with a friend, it may become more time efficient than making the trip for a face-to-face visit.  Although the joking threats that technology will soon take over may hold some validity, for now we shouldn’t be too worried.  Twitter may provide us with more possibilities to reach out to others, but whether it be friends, businesses or the Food Porn Daily account, I’m skeptical that 140 characters could take the place of a discussion or meeting.  We should all reexamine our dependence on these social media forums. So with the worry of a Twitter takeover aside, I’ll let my tweets about a lack of motivation and pictures of my dog continue without the slightest trace of doubt, and I will continue to throw my fist into the air Breakfast Club style when I receive a favorite, retweet or any kind of mention in my mentions tab. Hopefully everyone else does too, because life would not be the same without accounts like @CuteEmergency and @Foodporndaily.