Don’t get Twitter? Try #flyingants

Posted on: June 27, 2011

I sometimes speak to people who bravely look me in the eye and say ‘I don’t get Twitter. I just don’t get it.’ I say brave, because they think they are being so –  because I can tell from their tone that they believe I am somehow responsible for the entire platform and will take it incredibly personally that they can’t understand what the eff it’s all about.

There are many reasons I love Twitter, but for this post I’d like to highlight just one – a simple reason – for those who don’t currently get it.

It is that you can click on a hashtag, and get an up-to-the minute run-down of thoughts about that subject from people everywhere.

No hierarchy, no order except that of time. I don’t know why – but it’s as interesting, if not more so to me, to see how assorted strangers are reacting to flying ants, as the outbreak is happening, as it would be to hear from close friends on this subject.

In fact, it is the very diversity of the responses – taking me beyond the social circle I’m used to – which makes it all the more interesting. Although I really rather wish I hadn’t clicked on the twitpic from the guy who had gone to the trouble of poisoning his flying ants 😦

We are often told at the moment about the trend toward a web organised according to our social circles – in addition to our own previous behaviour. But gathering around a hashtag depends on neither of these things. It is an egalitarian look across the real-time web – which can be driven as easily by a user’s one-off mood or whim as a long-term interest in a subject.

So try it, doubters… next time you are experiencing something, or watching something – search on the Twitter hashtag for it – and experience the magic of watching streams and streams of relevant thoughts on it, roll in before your very eyes.


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