to tweet or not to tweet: that is the chorva

With all the buzz about social networking sites I’ve been reading left and right in all online media I am involved in (and even in tradmedia where they also include their online media stuff in their TV shows), I can’t help but wonder if I should jump in another “tech bandwagon” and start an account in one of the more popular social networking sites we have today. To tweet or not to tweet, that is.

Yes, I’m talking about Twitter, although I’m not so sure if it is actually considered a social networking site in the strict definition of the term like how Friendster was once called, and of course the almighty Facebook right now. But I guess yes, by definition, people subscribe to your account and follow your tweets or those micro-blogging thoughts and other things you want to publicize in this online tool so sure, it is a social networking site.

But this doesn’t mean that I don’t know the existence of such microblogging sites before. A couple of years or so after I began teaching (back in 2005), my students were already into this Twitter thing as well as a few of my colleagues who are heavily into traditional and online media work or study. But my ever-enterprising students were actually getting hooked on another kind of micro-blogging site other than Twitter called Plurk.Com.

A colleague from my previous office, Isis International Manila, was also dabbling into Plurk around that time (when she was still employed in Isis, that is) and I was thus encouraged to try this Plurk thing once and for all. At that time (maybe 2006-2008ish), Metro Manila friends and contacts were so into Multiply.Com at a time when Friendster.Com was losing its original social networking attraction since in Multiply–which is similar to Myspace where so many North American people were subscribed–you can post more (especially photos and you can actually download music uploaded by your contacts) and do more than what you could do in Friendster before.  Plus it was during my stint at Isis — which is an international (Asia-Pacific focused) feminist media NGO whose advocacy work centered on using (alternative) media and ICTs/new media to help enhance/publicize women’s work — where I got to encounter the super-rapid changes being made in the online media environment since I started freelancing for them in the early 2000s (freelancer from 2002-03 then worked there as fulltime staff from 2004-05 before I went to teaching).

My super-ancient Friendster account before I gutted it to remove info which was stolen by someone else and reposted as their own profile info. The internet is weird like that, yes.

 

And it was also during this time in Isis where my fellow young twentysomething/thirtysomething feminists and I discovered these new online tools such as blogging (which I heavily took into–up to now–since I am a writer) and social networking, particularly Friendster (I think we all opened an account back in 2003). And then, since there were quite a few queer women in that office at that time — myself included —  one of us also stumbled upon another social networking site for LGBTQ people called Downelink.com which we joked as “the Friendster for LGBTQ people.” I think I opened an account there in 2003-2004 without really keeping it (I kinda forgot about it actually), and when I resigned from Isis in 2005, I opened another account there and discovered the existence of my old account, and thus merged the two. So yes, I still have an account there right now. Also in Friendster, since I am interested to know how these social networking sites evolve over the years.

So when my students encouraged me to create an account in Plurk, they sold it to me as “something more fun than Twitter and something better than blogging and Multiply and Friendster networking combined.” And this is why I love teaching, too — I learn back from my students. So I opened an account in Plurk and it was so colorful and so vertically designed (imagine Twitter’s horizontal feeds and such — Plurk’s was vertical, or maybe those were just my settings?) and a bit confusing as well, but once publicized, my students immediately “followed” my account and that space just took on a life of its own.

Seeing Twitter’s simpler design, I couldn’t help but compare the two, but I haven’t looked at Plurk for years now so maybe they also reformatted already. But with Twitter, especially with the advent of Zuckerberg’s invention FB, it has become an important tool for information dissemination, especially if you need to inform your followers — or people who don’t follow you but who could see your account —  of blow-by-blow events as they happen. And this is why journalists on my media networks have been using Twitter more. And this is also why I am contemplating why I want to open an account here — mainly for information dissemination. And this one I could perhaps open to a wider network since I have been limiting my Facebook access to certain types of people (I’m not one to add you just because you want to add me as a contact — I have to know you in real life, dude! Or at least we share quite a few real life people out there as friends, colleagues or contacts).

I thought before that microblogging ain’t for me since I tend to write longish blog posts in my existing blogs (Hello! Case in point, you’re still reading this far? Hehe joke lang.). If people want to see my longer thoughts, then my blogs will be there. But reposting their links to a wider audience could also be beneficial later on, especially if people are really interested in reading what I wrote. Or another thing that makes me contemplate Twitter is the fact that I can retweet to publicize online written stuff I am involved in, more of a shameless plug yes but also shameless plugs of my fellow writer colleagues. So yes, again, information dissemination.

This is also why the presence of Twitters (Twitterers? What do you call Twitter users ba? I hesitate to call them “twits” hehe although some of them are…) in several international and local events are quite important for those who cannot be physically present at such events. Sometimes, it’s hard to follow blow-by-blow updates like that in people’s FB feeds so Twitter serves a better purpose for that activity. Such was the case in recent international women’s gatherings like the annual CSW in the UN in New York where some participants there tweeted events as they happened. For the women’s networks, that was quite important and I’m glad some women who attended used Twitter for this information dissemination purpose.

So yeah, while I am writing this, I guess I am getting convinced that I should start a Twitter account. But I am just not sure of its down sides. Anyone have any experiences? Aside from the fact that it will eat up more of my time being online, I don’t think there’s a bigger deterrent unless you guys know of some. And unless you work for the government and during a state visit of our president to Vietnam, you tweet that your host country’s wine sucks and that there is no handsome men in Hanoi or something tactless like that, then you won’t get into trouble, maybe. Hm, but I digress.

I was just talking to a friend of mine yesterday over lunch about this, about how we could “own” technology without it owning us in a way. But sometimes, we also want to just take it easy, unplug for a while, exist offline and just be. Lately, I’ve been feeling that way since being in front of the computer most of the time, it tends to give me some sort of fatigue lately. Sometimes I just want to run to the nearest theater and watch a film on the big screen while eating popcorn or maybe do a movie marathon at home and watch DVDs of films with friends, or maybe just curl up in bed or in my couch and read a book with actual paper pages (maybe ebooks sometimes in between commutes) or even better, do social networking offline, face to face, with people I care to hang out with and chat over coffee, meals or beer. Call me old-fashioned but I still value immediate feedback that way.

Can we, really?

Another friend was ranting about these things before, as he asked why we have to subscribe to Facebook  in order to see what others are doing in their lives. In a country of chismosos? Hmm, bakit nga ba? In a way, I agree because sometimes, I just don’t really care what people are thinking or are doing with their lives every hour or every day or worse, every five minutes. But there are also quite a few friends whom I am interested to see what they are up to. Thank Zuckerberg for the “hide button” in this department. As for people seeing what I do and post, thank Zuckerberg, too, for the specific privacy settings where I created lists and put my contacts in specific ones and tinkered with its individual settings (e.g. my family could see all things, trusted friends could also see all things, certain colleagues are blocked from seeing certain photo albums, anyone below 18 are blocked from seeing kinda adult content, those whom I keep as friends/contacts but are not that open-minded are blocked from seeing my LGBTQ-related posts, etc. — oo, kinarir ko ito teh!). And to make life simpler, those whose politics or behavior I ultimately discover are against mine or are just simply detestable (or maybe they’re just downright evil and it didn’t manifest until later in our “friendship”), I delete as contacts or as FB has reinvented the concept “unfriend-ed” them.

As someone who also travels sometimes and have family and friends scattered all over the globe, these social networking sites are very useful in somehow keeping in touch with people you care for — a reason why I think I will not totally junk their use, so yes, my accounts will remain online. But of course, life is meant to be lived and by living, I also mean making more memories with people you care for in offline settings. So let’s see.

Feel free to throw in your two cents/centavos in this discussion. As for now, we log off.

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~ by leaflens on March 12, 2011.

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