At 1:29 a.m. on Aug. 2, Lady Gaga said: “just woke up, headache and the stink of jameson. ahh but the lyrics on the bedside. it was all worth it.”On July 31 at 6:36 a.m.”coffee and a ciggy in Denmark, making hair sculptures, writing music….I could find truth in this red lipstick all day. the joys of a wench.”
On Sept. 21, Miley Cyrus told those interested that a “massive zit popped up before Staples which just CAN NOT be there! So I put Desitin (diaper rash ointment haha) on it and it is GONE!”
On Sept. 16 at 1:57 a.m. “Two bowls of ice cream later and I am still hungry. Room service here I come! I loveee late night snacks!
How and why were these, among millions of other seemingly random statements broadcasted to the public so extensively? Why did Miley Cyrus share the status of her zit with the world, and more importantly, how and why did so many people around the world respond with such eagerness? One simple word: Twitter.
Twitter, one of the newer social-networking sites, allows its users to post brief status updates, or “tweets,” consisting of 140 characters or less.
“I think Twitter combines a lot of …of what makes the Internet exciting into a very simple form and it’s about people connecting and it’s really about giving people a way of communicating that didn’t exist .it is a perfect complement to everything else,” said Evan Williams, co-founder of twitter.com in an interview on Charlie Rose on Feb. 27, 2009.
A person’s tweet can consist of a variety of material including basic emotions or actions, links and pictures as long as they stay in the 140 character range.
Once one becomes a member of Twitter, not only can you begin posting your own statuses, but you can follow others as well.
From April 2008 to April 2009, Twitter’s growth has experienced an expansion change of 1,298 percent, increasing its number of visitors from 1.22 million to 17.10 million.
Who are these millions of tweeters? Sure, we’ve all heard about those who the media talks about: those revolutionary people who tweeted their way through the Iranian election, the stars, and even the big news corporations themselves. Where, though, are the normal, run-of-the-mill people?
Not at Castleton State College that is for sure.
Out of a vast poll on campus, only three students and one professor were found to have a Twitter account; and only one of them had made any form of commitment to it since registering this past summer.
“Yeah, I have one. But I don’t use it,” said sophomore Tyler Mills. “I feel like it’s not really a social networking site. It’s just more for like, updates.”
After talking to about 50 people on campus, it appears that much of the population assumed that Twitter is used solely for status updates. It was a pretty generic response.
“Maybe it is because we are in Vermont,” said junior Andy Lacroix. “I mean, it’s pretty rural and there doesn’t seem like there is much to tweet about in Vermont.”
Still, there are millions of users who would disagree.
Castleton senior James Dahlgard, who had the unique opportunity to tour with pop singers Jordin Sparks and the Jonas Brothers this summer, worked a great deal with Twitter, experiencing first-hand how it is used outside of Vermont.
“It is really big in entertainment,” said Dahlgard. “Jordin Sparks would update her Twitter 10, 12 times a day.”
Dalhgard said that the site is simultaneously ideal for parents and children, as less information [than Facebook] is exposed on the web, and at the same time, kids can follow their favorite stars, as the site allows them to know what their idols are doing all day long.
“It’s just the way our society has changed; keeping up with what people are doing,” said Dalhgard.
Instead of getting excited about the features of Twitter, Castleton students always seemed to turn the discussion back to Facebook, and its popularity among their generation.
Even Dahlgard, who was immersed in pop culture and Twitter all summer, brought Twitter’s failure to attract college students back to Facebook and their preference of the site.
“Facebook is just so big, and you can’t get out as much out of Twitter as you can Facebook,” said Dahlgard.
Compared to Twitter, more than 250 million people, about one-fifth of all Internet users, have Facebook accounts. In addition, they spend an average of 20 minutes on the site every day.
Unlike Twitter, which only allows one photo or one link per tweet, Facebook has a limitless photo application and college students often have up to thousands of pictures of themselves.
Facebook also includes a tag feature that allows friends to located themselves and others in photographs.
“Facebook is more established and has applications and add-ons that make it more entertaining than Twitter, which just consists of status updates. Don’t completely take my word for it since I don’t know Twitter ’cause I don’t have one,” said senior Jake Mclaughlin.
“I’ve found more of my friends on Facebook and can keep in contact pretty well with just that. Twitter has not been presented to me in a way that really makes it seem like a really applicable Web site. Plus, I don’t feel I’d be interested in keeping up with it enough to update my status as compulsively as some users do,” said Mclaughlin
Facebook has also been deemed more intimate, as its users can leave personal messages to friends of their choice, instead of broadcasting it to the whole world. Although personal information tends to be loosely distributed Facebook as well, users tend to have more control over who views their profiles (accepting and rejecting friend requests), while on Twitter one can “follow” whomever they wish to follow.
“Facebook is more of a social thing. Twitter is just more like, a ‘what are you doing’ every second of the day type thing. Which I think it’s kind of creepy,” said junior Chris Mulholland
Communications department professor Robert Gershon, although with a hint of skepticism, agreed too that Facebook seems to be more useful.
Gershon said that it is often used for re-establishing connections and that even now older people are getting it because their nieces, nephews and other relatives and friends are on the site.
“I arranged an internship for an old student through Facebook, for example” said Gershon.
And the scary thing is that Facebook’s popularity does not appear to be diminishing.
On Sept. 16 Wired Magazine announced that Facebook has unveiled a revamped search engine in August, and is currently testing an online payment system. Facebook users have tripled from about 100 million a year ago, and those who are currently using the site have no thoughts of turning away.
“It’s tough to say, exactly, what things will look like in three to five years, but there’s a lot of work to do in just moving along the path that we’ve already set out. Right now we have 30 million active users on Facebook. There’s a lot more to go. And there a lot of different applications that are going to be developed to allow people to share information in different ways. I would expect the user base will grow [and there will be] more ways for advertisers to reach people and communicate in a very natural way, just like users communicate with each other. All these things will just get more and more evolve,” said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in an interview with Time magazine.
But in the meantime, we must be glad that we know that on Sept. 24 Lady Gaga was “In studio writing music, already used up a whole can of hairspray. Feels like home.