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To tweet or not to tweet?
By Rebecca Wicks

The other day I joined Twitter. It took me a while to get involved and even now I’m not particularly impressed � it’s really just the same as updating your facebook status every five minutes with another nugget of useless information about your day. The only difference is, you can choose to follow famous people � view their profiles and read about their lives even more often than you can by picking up a newspaper. And sometimes, if you’re lucky, they follow you back.

My friend Twitters regularly with Stephen Fry. She tells him when she’s enjoying reading his books and he tells her “thanks, that’s why I wrote them”. It’s the highlight of her day. A few weeks back, mum got a Twitter from Philip Schofield � a British actor turned TV presenter. She was ecstatic. To think that Philip would take time out of his day to type 140 characters to her was mind-blowing. This is technology, this is the future isn’t it; when the people we admire most in the world can actually reach out to us personally.

Of course, some Twitterers aren’t who they claim to be. Recently, comedian Jack Dee was outed as a fake, although it was later reported that the real Jack was thinking about setting up an account - probably once he’d realized the extent of his own popularity.

Celebs like Jonathan Ross and Stephen Fry regularly exchange Twitters with the public for a bit of a giggle, but others allegedly let their PRs take over. Britney Spears’ Twitter page is a dull list of tour dates and album information. Richard Branson’s is much the same, only we don’t get to know when he’s about to sing. Other celebs who like to Tweet are John Cleese, Coldplay, Tina Fey, and even Barack Obama, whose entire marketing campaign was based around modern communication methods and whose website was initiated by the same guy who created facebook. Now that’s a leader! It seems the world’s gone Twitter crazy.

In November 2008, Jeremiah Owyang of Forrester Research estimated that Twitter had 4-5 million users. A February 2009 blog entry ranked Twitter as the third largest social network in the world, with MySpace coming second and facebook reigning supreme. It puts the number of monthly visitors at 55 million � that’s a whole lot of tweeting going on.

The UAE is catching on slowly. The Gulf News last week offered a Twitter service with mini updates, as did adventure and lifestyle company I’m not too sure about the point of a newspaper Twittering, to be honest. Wouldn’t people rather read the paper, or the website? Blue Banana though, I can understand. Now we can see what events they’re planning and whether indeed there’s a reason to get out of bed on a weekend, other than a beef-bacon buttie and a fake DVD marathon.

The only thing is that my mobile phone doesn’t let me Tweet via SMS yet. If I had the technology over here to text updates to my profile from my mobile phone, perhaps I’d be a little more interested in it, but logging in to do so from a laptop kind of defeats the point. If you’re not �tweeting’ on the run, you might as well update your facebook status from your swivel chair. Why complicate things? After all, isn’t it easier to keep all our friends in one safe place for daily check ups? Surely we don’t need another site to worry about.

I think I’ll be sticking to texting the people I actually care about, and worrying less about what the people I don’t care about might think of me. I think the people of this world know too much about each other as it is. I’m pretty sure no one needs regular bathroom visiting updates from anyone � even if it is Philip Schofield.

Posted: 05 March 2009

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