Sunday, November 25, 2012

Novice vs Twitter—Round 1: Understanding paradoxes in SM

I was never into Social Media (SM), nor have I ever been well-versed with its latest tools and trends. But roughly since the time I’d graduated from college, it seemed to infiltrate every aspect of my online experience, and seemingly increasing in its offline presence as well—popping up ever so often in my conversations with friends and business associates alike. Although I was never motivated enough to actually set up a Twitter account and “engage”, increasingly I realized it was not something to be ignored.

That’s why it is probably more apt to describe my “journey with Twitter” as a wrestling match between the Novice (yours truly) and Twitter, roughly occurring in three phases or rounds where each face-off builds on the other, yet there’s no real saying who would ultimately “prevail”. The question was, would I master the use of Twitter, or would it overcome me altogether?
Thus, I attempt to account for my experience in three installments, the first of which I’ve undergone some introspection to identify some paradoxes in Twitter use, which probably shed light on the reasons for my mixed feelings towards Twitter.

1.       Creating my profile: public or private?
When creating my Twitter profile, the preeminent question arises: to make information public or private? Am I interested in exploiting the chance of having a public audience in Twitterverse, or are there real security concerns about privacy and the likes to be wary of? Choosing the former seems wise if not to defeat the purpose of using Twitter in the first place, but having public settings inevitably garners unintended scrutiny, spam or unauthorized use of personal information.

2.       Inertia versus Information
Even after getting past the first task of creating my profile, I face the tumultuous task of actual activity—(a) searching for/following various interest groups, personalities and/or organizations, and (b) tweeting. For someone like myself, who does not have ideas and off-the-cuff statements occurring spontaneously, it takes significant effort to accomplish tasks for efficient use of Twitter. It doesn’t really help that I do not have much faith in the efficacy of Twitter as a networking tool to begin with.
3.       For real or for show?
Many people are of the view that activity on Twitter is really a performance more than anything else. It’s all too obnoxious in believing that the rest of the world would be interested to know that I’ve just had breakfast at the neighborhood diner or have just been relieved of my last assignment for the semester. Yet, for very legitimate and/or professional reasons, it pays to invest effort in ensuring a presentable, comprehensive description of self is provided in the Twitter profile, because you never know how and when, the HR department of a potential employer would be scrutinizing every word and activity on Twitter. We’re treading a fine line between opportunity and risk, propriety and freedom of speech.

From the above, I would consider Round 1 a draw—neither the Novice nor Twitter has gained sufficient leverage to sway influence in either direction. It would probably take more interaction before significant outcomes (if any) are observed.

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