Should I get a Twitter?

For years, people asked me if I have a Twitter. I always answered “no”. It took me until recently to realize that this seems to be one of these new fancy technological gadgets. But even after I realized that, the answer remained “no”.

Here are the reasons why I don’t have a Twitter:

  • I am generally apprehensive towards new technology. I’ll give it 10 or 15 years to see how it works. I feel no urge to be among the brain-cancer attracting pioneers.
  • I watch the news, I listen to radio, I read blogs, newspapers and books. I really don’t need, nor do I have time for another source of information.
  • Apparently, one is limited to 140 characters per message on Twitter. That’s not much, especially not for people in love with convoluted sentences, lawyers and German speakers (we have words that are longer than 140 characters). I fall in all three of these groups.
  • Also, I don’t like the idea of somebody limiting the flow of my ideas, my mind, my speech and my writing. This is a deeply illiberal approach and I don’t see how it could advance the future of mankind. Maybe they will limit it to 120 characters next year until one day we’ll be limited to sending smiley faces. Is this Twitter company run by Chinese and Japanese who can express much more with fewer character?
  • I don’t like to own too many gadgets. A computer, a phone and a camera are already enough for me. I really don’t need something else to carry around with me all the time.
  • I don’t even answer my phone most of the time, so I doubt if I would use this Twitter much.
  • If I wait, it will probably become cheaper, like anything else that has to do with technology.
  • I don’t like to engage in activities for which the verb is derived from a company name. I don’t “google”, I “search online”. There is a perfectly useful English word for it, so I don’t need to take part in a marketing campaign for a company of which I don’t own any shares. As long as there is no English word to describe the activity now called “twittering”, it seems that there hasn’t been any need for this activity in real life.
  • As always, there are opportunity costs. If I spend time twittering, I will have less time to enjoy nature or read a book or watch James Bond movies. Proponents of Twitter should consider that I would have to give up something else for it.
  • Twitter seems to be for short, snappy pieces of “information”. Twitter prioritizes speed over content. That’s not my approach. I can read the newspaper the next day, or The Economist or Die Zeit after a week or a book after a year and I will get much better analysis.
  • I see that some Twitter messages look like this: “OMG! #SXSW 2012 Music Gr8!” This is ugly. It destroys language. I refuse to write like this.

But then a friend pointed out that I am actually using my Facebook page just like other people use Twitter. I began to think: If I can somehow hook up my Twitter with my Facebook page and maybe even with my LinkedIn profile, my Skype and all these other fancy things, then I don’t need to write more, but it will potentially reach more people. But will it? 

So I am asking you now: Would you follow my musings if they were henceforth disseminated by Twitter, while you wouldn’t do so otherwise? In other words, should I finally get a Twitter or not? Will it really lead to more readers and especially readers’ participation?

About Andreas Moser

Travelling the world and writing about it. I have degrees in law and philosophy, but I'd much rather be a writer, a spy or a hobo.
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23 Responses to Should I get a Twitter?

  1. Mel Hart says:

    Yes you should. The character count might be limiting but that’s the challenge. It puts your language skills to the test. Writing your thoughts in a clear and concise manner is no easy feat and that is probably why Twitter gets better content than Facebook. Twitter is also the go to place for breaking news, news which is not just about the latest Lady Gaga video but also about political, economic and current affairs subjects. With Twitter you are in control of who to follow so your feed’s content is completely in your hands. It’s also a great conversation tool, not to mention a great space to share ideas, blogs and other thoughts.

    …and just in case you do, don’t forget to follow me @melahart

    • But I don’t want to follow anybody. As I said, I am already getting enough information and I don’t have time to read more. I would only be a sender, not a receiver.

    • Mel Hart says:

      1) Twitter is two way communication, only famous people use Twitter as a one way channel, and not even that as they do engage. If you just want to be a sender then forget it.
      2) I was not talking about language skills in the sense of great readings but in the ABILITY to communicate your message in a concise way, and yes that takes SKILL, a skill not a lot of people have.
      3) The radio and the newspaper will never give you the same reach as Twitter. Twitter is not just about reporting the news, it’s also about all the behind the scenes, opinions and much much more.

    • For language skills, I don’t look at Twitter messages, but at “Der Zauberberg” by Thomas Mann, hardly something that could be squeezed into 140 characters.

      Also, with that logic, a limit of 50 or 20 characters would lead to even greater language skills. Why don’t we stop writing at all in the end?

    • For “breaking news”, I find the radio quite reliable. Also, the newspaper will have it the next day. I am not the President, so I don’t really need to know all of this stuff immediately.

  2. CLKeyes says:

    Are you feeling isolated with the forms you use now? Did you miss the election results? Was you life altered significantly by finding out that Ohio went to Obama 30 minutes after the event? Can you honestly say that your reading, writing and participation in the many blogs and articles that you currently use is keeping you isolated and uninformed? I find that there are enough voices and ideas in my head now, significantly more than I can process without adding the mental jabbering of the rest of the world. I have a twitter account but haven’t seen the benefit of listening in to the jabbering of hundreds of people I don’t know, never heard of and probably wouldn’t listen to if they were standing in the room next to me. Forgive me for being crude but it has always appeared to me to be a place for the regurgitation of words not assimilation of ideas or discussion of ideas.

  3. I do have a Twitter account, but only use it to get notifications. I’m sorry, this may sound Luddite, but I feel I have enough drain on my time with my blogging circles. I would follow you, simply because I thoroughly enjoy your writings, but if I were you, I’d take a pass.
    Then again, if I were you, I’d be decades younger, infinitely richer, and quite a bit more dashing, and single, therefore I’d be a prime candidate for Twitter. ;) :D

  4. Morrighan says:

    i have one but i pay more attention to the blogs i follow here at wordpress,to me twitter is boring and it’s very easy to miss messages/tweets by those you follow…unless you think to click on their profile to see what they tweeted.

  5. I found your blog through a comment you made on “2012 Was the Moneyball Election” that I clicked to from a twitter retweet via Nate Silver @fivethirtyeight of that I came to by an even more convoluted way.

  6. Toby says:

    I hope you don’t Andreas. For a man of words like you – i say stick to your gift. Writers write, Twits tweet(sic). Just don’t.

  7. Michael says:

    Hi Andreas, I agree 120% with your opinion. Its a pitty I read your post only today, otherwise would have liked to join the debate earlier.
    If you see Blogs as something that can have a real literally value and in some instances developed further into real novels (like the STROBO Blog by Airen that was illegally turned into the award winning novel “Axolotl Roadkill” by Helene Hegemann,, than Twitter Tweets are not more than these yellow POST-ITs everybody uses at work: They are the modern, unpolite, sober way of leaving somebody a message. After this, they are doomed for the wastebin. They have no space for any deeper thought, and, yes, this is why they are so popular, because they are an easy excuse for everyone to limit its communication to superficial, basic statements. Tweets are the adequat way for gossip, for shit-storms an any other form of premature thoughts.

  8. Sahra Ghafari says:

    There is no need, leave it up to unemployed minions like myself to tweet your notions for you!

  9. Sarah says:

    Twitter is my favorite social media tool. I dislike facebook and seem to have wasted way too much time on cute kitty photos, inspirational quotes, invites to farmville and reading everyone’s political views. Twitter is great for current events- everything from local traffic conditions to revolutions, conversations can be initiated which can be expanded by email. I’ve also used it for help on various topics, asking people specializing in various fields. 140 characters is not much, but sometimes that’s all you need.

    • “140 characters is not much, but sometimes that’s all you need” is of course easy to say for someone who can write in a language that doesn’t use vowels. :P

  10. Based on your overwhelming recommendations, I have bought this Twitter machine now and will try to use it. If it helps to get more readers or a more lively discussion, then I shall succumb to modernity. My Twitter number or address or whatever it is called seems to be @AndreasMoser007. Let’s see how this works. I may need somebody to come on over and explain it to me.

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