Posted by Mitch Quesada
Last week, Generation Update discussed the generation gap in Facebook and found that one was not as apparent as was previously thought.
This week, the focus is Twitter. How can information be spread all over the world in 140 characters or less? Twitter has the answer. Since its birth in 2006, Twitter has amassed 500 million users, making it the second-most populated social network, according to Digital Marketing Ramblings.
The Pew Research Center did a survey recently and found that 30 percent of those aged 18-29 have a Twitter account and 17 percent of those aged 30-49 had one as well.
“From what I’ve been able to understand, Twitter is a message processing application…that caters to the short attention span and poor spelling and grammar skills of the modern citizen of the world,” said Jeff Mays, a 45-year-old from Redlands, Calif. “The purpose of Twitter seems to be to nurture mankind’s need to be social.”
Mays does not have a Twitter account, nor does he plan on getting one.
“I don’t have a Twitter…because I already get all of the entertainment that I have time for,” Mays said. “Also, I don’t have anything that interesting to say to the world, nor do I have an audience that would be interested if I did.”
Samantha Russell, a 19-year-old from Riverside, Calif., believes that Twitter is just a small part of a larger picture.
“People are obsessed with the idea of social media these days,” said Russell. “They have a desire to let everyone know what is going on in their lives and Twitter is another outlet for them to do that.”
Russell does not have a Twitter account either and has mixed feelings regarding if she will ever make one.
“I might, but right now, I’m fine without one,” she said.
While Twitter is popular for allowing its users to connect to each other, it has also gained popularity for allowing users to easily connect to the news.
Mark Johnson, in an article for Socialnomics.com, expressed this:
Twitter is much more than just your friends telling you about their day. It has changed the media, politics and business. Many will report they hear their news first on Twitter- stories of natural disasters, sports scores, the death of a celebrity and more are shared first on Twitter.
Both Mays and Russell have found other ways to learn about the latest news in the world. Russell gets her daily news “mostly [from] CNN’s website.”
Mays, on the other hand, relies more on his spouse.
“I get updates on the news from my wife,” Mays said. “Otherwise, I don’t pay attention to the news anymore.”
A study from the Pew Research Center in 2012 suggested that only 9 percent of Americans got their news from Facebook or Twitter last year. The same study showed that of those individuals, 36 percent saw news posts from other family members while 27 percent saw the news tweets from actual news organizations or journalists.
Is fast news the only positive thing to come out of Twitter?
Just last week, a business executive posted a tweet that wound up getting him fired. The tweet can be seen here, but be warned — some of the language in the tweet is extremely explicit. That executive was far from the first and certainly won’t be the last individual who has lost a job in under 140 characters.
A November 2012 study from the Family Online Safety Institute suggested that 43 percent of teenagers have posted something online they later regretted, though 95 percent of teens feel safe online.
“[Twitter] has its perks, like allowing people to stay connected with each other,” said Russell. “But, it also has its negative aspects, like the fact that it can decrease the quality of our face-to-face relationships.”
Mays believes that Twitter “helps in some way to satisfy the tier of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs that states humans have a need for a sense of belonging.”
In many senses, Russell and Mays are in agreement as to their overall opinion of the website. Statistically, a generation gap is not evident. Many people are in agreement that they have Twitter accounts for the same reasons: to follow celebrities or follow the news.
Statistic Brain found that 40 percent of people with a Twitter account don’t use the account for anything more than to watch other people tweet.
Next week, Generation Update will go behind the lens and visit Instagram, a social media site that focuses solely on pictures. Perhaps here, in the age of the iPhone where taking pictures is as easy as sliding to the next screen, a generation gap will finally exist.