One does not have to search very hard on the web to find articles that speak of reasons not to use or why people have given up on Twitter.  I’ve read arguments that Twitter, and its contributors, are boring, heard complaints of too much noise and griping about its unreliability. Even in my office groans pour out of the cubes when the Fail Whale rears its head.

I, however, could care less about all of these downfalls.  Twitter is a free service.  If you don’t want to use it and think that it’s doing you a disservice then by all means do not use it!  If you can look past the negatives, you may discover a tool useful for networking, friendship, and entertainment.

Twitter, when it comes down to it, is pretty entertaining

My Twitter following breakdown goes something like this:

  • News/media outlets
  • Internet/media celebrities
  • Family/friends
  • Coworkers
  • People I do not know personally but find worthwhile to follow

I follow news and media outlets such as Fox News, CNN, Fark, and various gossip sites because I find it convenient for news to come to me rather than the other way around.  I have Twitter set up on my mac to use Growl, so any time a tweet comes through, I see a visual notification.  Sometimes this creates a lot of noise, but I never miss a headline.

I’ve always been the type that loves celebrity gossip.  Maybe it’s that voyeuristic look into a life that I know I’ll never have, but there is something about celebrities that fascinate me.  Following them, even minor internet celebrities, on twitter gives me a little more of a personal peek inside their heads.  It’s surprising sometimes what is revealed.

Following family and friends is a given.  I love to see what everyone is up to on a day-to-day basis.  Yes, my friends are boring in the whole scheme of things, but it is important to me to know how they are doing and feel a connection with those I cannot physically see or talk to daily.

I’m fortunate to work with people who are funny, talented, laid-back, and intelligent and I follow them because of these reasons.  On Twitter, there is always a running inside joke going on between us and it’s fun to take stabs at each other knowing the rest of the group will read it and get a kick out of it.  It’s also nice to see what project people are currently working on or what they feel like having for lunch.  Yes, we all sit next to each other in cubes.  It’s difficult to explain.

People who I don’t know very well provide a wealth of entertainment.  I tend to follow people who are interesting or funny.   Some tweets from “Twitter friends” keep me hanging on, waiting for more and others make me laugh out loud.

Twitter friendships are worthwhile

I love my Twitter friends – the people who I have met and know from Twitter alone.  They are people who I have never seen face-to-face but feel a connection with through the tweets that they post and my interaction with them.

I’ve sought advice from and given advice to these friends, have laughed with them at the silly things that happen around them, sympathized with them through their trials and have viewed their posted blogs, Facebook pages and photos to get to know them more.  When I view my received tweets, I am delighted to be greeted with posts from these once strangers, now friends.

Twitter is by far the best networking tool I have used

I am usually a shy person.  In order to go up and talk to someone I do not know and attempt to carry on a conversation, I have to mentally prepare myself well in advance.  This does not always work out in social situations.

A couple of weeks ago I attended erubycon.  It is a conference that is presented and attended by many influential people in the Ruby community.  Before the conference, I started following erubycon on Twitter and shortly after the organizer, Joe, started following me and I followed him in return.

Through Twitter I was able to learn what Joe was doing to organize the conference, discovered his love for fine scotch, and realize how passionate he is about what he does.  It is so interesting getting to know someone this way.

When I arrived at the conference, I was excited to meet him because of all I had read about him.  Had our Twitter relationship not been established prior to the conference, I doubt that I would have talked to him at all, which would have been terrible!  I probably would have never attended the after-conference get-together, at which I was able to get a lot of face time with some truly exceptional people in the Ruby community.  It was, without a doubt, one of the most positive experiences of my professional career.

Keep on keepin’ on

Say what you want about Twitter.  Complain when you see the “Whale of Fail” and gripe about it’s unreliability.  I will continue to use the service to keep me informed, make me laugh, meet new friends, and establish contacts.

Oh look, I haven’t tweeted in a few hours.  Time to take care of that…