My most favorite use of Twitter this past year

Jay Rosen, professor of journalism at NYU and avid Twitterer (btw, must-follow for anyone interested in the future of media and journalism), was preparing an essay recently on “why I use Twitter”: Help Me Explain Twitter to Eggheads

He asked his readers for contributions on one particular item:

9. And then, the thing I need your help with: what do I actually use Twitter for?.

I have a number of answers to that, which I will lay out in the piece, but I would like to feature some others. The intent of my question is to put the accent on “useful.” What do you use Twitter for? I’m especially interested if you’re an academic—student, teacher, PhD—but my interest is not limited to those groups.

Here’s my answer (sent via Twitter, natch):

@jayrosen_nyu To follow people outside my liberal, Bay Area echo chamber. Hard to bear at times, but can be great sanity check. ;-)

Following last year’s trip to DC (Politics Online conference, eDemocracyCamp) and Austin (SXSW), I made a deliberate attempt to follow more people who are not like me (in terms of where we fall on the political spectrum — we all have in common that we are hooked on Twitter, apparently): Republicans, conservatives, evangelicals etc.

This has proven to be my most valuable use of Twitter by far. It has provided me with a glimpse into the other half of this nation’s soul, which has been so deeply divided over the last eight years (and still is, though I’m hopeful that now is a good time for new beginnings, and maybe we will see some of this division disappear).

It’s been fascinating to read up on some of the articles, stories and other resources that are being passed on by conservatives, to listen to their instant feedback to news of the day, and to follow the discussions around the need for change in their own party.

It is easier today than ever to blend out any news source we don’t agree with and only engage with people who will confirm our views. It is important, in my view, that we resist this temptation, and Twitter seems to be a good antenna into anywhere outside the bubbles of our own limited world views.

2 Responses to “My most favorite use of Twitter this past year”

  1. Malte Goesche Says:

    Very interesting, because I get the feeling that many (most?) people don’t want that from Twitter usually. They use it in order to get recognition and be validated. And anything but being questioned. Far from that “sanity [reality] check,” but more like escapism (get away from reality to their happy place aka the echo chamber).

    At least that is how it seems to me…

  2. Tim Says:

    Well, as I said. It sometimes requires a certain “tolerance for pain” as some of the content goes completely against what you think is good and right. There were plenty of moments when I just wanted to hit the unsubscribe button. But usually, what I’ve found is that if you can resist the initial urge to “retaliate” there comes a time when the very same people will share stuff that’s quite interesting or even insightful at times.

    Bottom line, I keep adding diversity to my Twitter following portfolio. ;-)

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