Our generation gets a lot of shit. Most of us can relate to hearing about “always being on that damn phone,” and part of the reason for that is apps like Twitter. Twitter has created a platform that is always entertaining and often political, depending on who you follow. Twitter revolutionized social media, creating a place where we could grow out of MySpace and express ourselves differently from Instagram.
Twitter, without a doubt, has become one of the most influential social media platforms ever created. With the ability to retweet, a single 280 character idea can be seen by millions within a matter of hours, if not minutes. More personalized timelines contribute to Twitter’s success as well: instead of seeing relatives-you’ve-never-met-baby-pictures like on Facebook, Twitter allows you to follow, and more easily find, accounts of people, businesses, aesthetics, and ideas that you prefer to see on your timeline. The site also learns from who you follow, and through more than just “mutual friends,” you have the ability to expand who you follow to more of what you prefer to see.
What does this mean to our generation? Why is this relevant to us?
On Twitter, we’ve found common ground. We’ve found a way to locate our communities, or girlfriends, or political stance. And not to be dramatic or anything, but we’ve found ourselves and each other on Twitter.
It’s easy to feel like your feelings or views or ideas are completely unique to you, but with Twitter, we find commonalities with each other, often leading us to feel a lot less alone and a lot more understood. We’ve argued (pineapples on pizza, the dress) and we’ve agreed (let’s stop getting shot at school). While Instagram and Snapchat have switched up on us, with the non-chronological order and whatever the last Snapchat update was, Twitter has stayed true.
Twitter is more than just memes, though. It can really alter people’s lives.Through the site GoFundMe, people can tweet to ask for donations to causes such as expensive medical procedures such as life saving surgery or transgender top surgery. People with open hearts and open bank accounts come through more often than not, and for those of us who can’t afford to donate, we help by retweeting, and spreading to others who can.
School walkouts are another example of how Twitter is a powerful platform. Through hashtags, retweets, and reaching out, the idea of honoring Parkland victims was spread across the country. On March 14th, which is yesterday by the time this posts, schools across the country participated in walkouts to demand gun reform and honor Parkland victims. Without a platform that allowed ideas to spread quickly, we would not have been able to make plans so swiftly and effectively.
Twitter can also be a tool for finding out who people really are. On multiple occasions, a politician running for office has been exposed for having racist or otherwise problematic tweets, and thankfully lost the election. This idea can become problematic, as some tweets can be taken out of context or represent a different person than their current selves. Twitter does have a culture of being unforgiving before trying to educate, and many people are “cancelled” before anyone thinks to listen to their apologies or how they’ve changed. This is not always the case, as many apologies are insincere and many words are said with intent, but a slightly hostile culture still exists among certain Twitter users.
All in all, our generation will grow with Twitter, just as we grew with Instagram or MySpace or Snapchat. Inevitably, we’ll hate some edits and love others, and eventually we’ll accept them all.
Here’s to more memes and more marches, and to tweeting whatever the hell we want.