“It’s just Twitter, right?”

Twitter turned 7 years old just a short while ago.

I myself have only been an avid user of it for just under a year, and have grown to love and cherish it. This may sound far-fetched, but my Twitter account is of huge importance to me. In my eyes, I have healthily integrated it into my own life. By healthily, I mean I tweet a considerable amount, but an amount that isn’t too much and isn’t too little. Healthily might mean different things to different people, but this is healthy for me.

Occasionally, there is the odd time when I let my hair down and think “what the hell?!”. Thus, I convert a thought – or more often than not – a complaint, into three or four consecutive tweets, sharing them with my 80 or so followers. With regards to my followers, they may be reading this and probably beg to differ about the kind of tweeter I am – and if I’m on the annoying side of it, they are fully-functioning human beings who can hit the “unfollow” button and remove me from their timeline and mind – because it’s only Twitter, right?

That isn’t really the case anymore. It’s not just Twitter. It’s something more. This is a vital platform to express a fleeting thought, opinion, complaint, picture, observation and… well, the list is endless. It’s a platform that in some ways, inspires creativity, as people learn to become more wittier, humorous and a tad bit more straightforward by reducing their thought processes into a mere 140 characters. Personally, that’s creativity right there. Twitter makes people think. Unlike Facebook, it doesn’t ask you “what’s on your mind, Martha?” and make you churn out a whole paragraph about your life, which is what some people tend to do.

It’s also a platform that raises much public debate, as those with public accounts make their tweets accessible to all when a hash-tag or certain word is used. Certain tweets can prove a massive hit, making an account gain a surge in followers, gain vast amount of retweets for tweeting a lot of sense and provide a general ego boost that you’ve done a good job for the day. Good. Other tweets can spark a mass debate, perhaps provoking the wrong kind of reaction and eventually resulting in something resembling a downward spiral – not so good, but it’s a reaction nonetheless. The world is full of them.

Such quick searches on Twitter can lead to oodles of tweets about a hot topic or two, or three. The sheer amount of facts and opinions within the Twittersphere is limitless, and this is what makes it so special. It isn’t media-controlled or government controlled (at least, I don’t think it is) – it’s people controlled. For the general British public, and even globally, this is a no holds barred arena. Say what you want, when you want, and how you want. It’s a place that even provides many companies the essential feedback they need on whatever they sell to consumers – because we are the people that matter, and Twitter is the place we can go.

The downside to Twitter however, can also be ugly. As I said before, Twitter isn’t just Twitter anymore. Like any social networking site, it has the potential to bring out the worst in people, affecting romantic relationships, friendships and generally, someone’s life too. Although it’s a great medium to express one’s thoughts on something, such a medium isn’t so great when you are at the receiving end of unexplainable hatred or exposure. Freedom of speech is necessary, but the lack of regulation means things could happen here which remain unseen by the people who should be seeing them.

On a more personal note, I believe that Twitter is also responsible for creating those who harbour a “false personality” or have become “Twitter famous”. Now, we never really know anyone properly, but you can usually detect when someone you know isn’t being…well…themselves. I’m 18 years old, and have been brought up in a world full of advancing technology. Seeing people around me change because of Twitter and even Facebook hasn’t exactly been the highlight of my life. I am indeed slightly different on social networking sites, something I think everyone is, but not much different from what I present myself to be in reality. What’s slightly bizarre, however, is when people use social networking sites to create a personality for themselves and become someone they are not. Twitter has the potential to change people, and that is extremely scary. In a world where people are creating false accounts, duping people and generally being a nusicance, it is daunting to think that you may be a victim, and even more daunting to think that you could also entertain yourself by doing this – because the opportunities are out there. Do watch the American TV programme “Catfish”, and you’ll understand my fears. I’m not just going insane here.

In some ways, Twitter is great, and I’m definitely more for it rather than against. I personally think it’s almost becoming the new Google, a personal outlet for stories to emerge – the all-important hub. I’m confident that before people search something in Google, they end up on Twitter, browse the recent trends and find out that so and so has tragically passed away, or that a catastrophic event has occurred somewhere in the world, or that somewhere, someplace, something important is happening. Or, alternatively, that Kim Kardashian is indeed pregnant with Kanye West’s baby. Big cheer for that trend.

This is all simply because real people reported it. Who needs the media or journalists when we have this? A community of reporters on Twitter. I think that’s pretty awesome.

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