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September 22, 2016

Twitter has staying power

When Twitter first hit the airwaves, I was aghast. How could such a website with such a silly little game actually expect to compete with other traditional social-networking sites? Either I underestimated the need for people to talk about themselves or it is a legitimate website.

One of my roommates is obsessed with the trend of New Media and the future of the Internet and was obviously a big fan of it before I had heard the term “tweet.” So, I decided to give it a go and see what the entire craze was about.

While this column might sound like it is a few months old, since Twitter has not consistently held top spot in news headlines for its breadth and popularity, it actually is not. The true test of a website is whether it can withstand the initial burst of fame. After the Iranian election fiasco when the entire world was a-tweet, I felt that Twitter would soon fall off the face of the earth. It has yet to do so, and with the Meghan McCain recent controversy, it was back in the headlines.

I initially joined Twitter to “follow” Boston politicians in the mayoral and city council election as well as those vying for Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat. But the true rewards were when I started to follow football reporters like the former Boston Globe and current ESPN Boston Patriots beat reporter Mike Reiss, ESPN’s Adam Schefter and SI’s Peter King.

At this point, who cares about politicians any more, especially when they are not actually using their own Twitter account? It’s clearly some subordinate.

Now, when you follow a person, all of their Tweets are posted on your homepage. It is similar to going onto Facebook’s homepage and seeing people’s status updates and what they have written on other people’s walls.

 With politicians, you would get spam about how you should vote for them or where they are going to be next and many other relatively useless pieces of information. Never do you get a feel for their personality or interesting tidbits about their days. The most entertaining politician, I think, is Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray who posts a trivia question every Tuesday and gives out awards to the quickest responder.

Reporters, I found, would continuously update their Twitter with breaking news or insights into games they were watching. Reading Mike Reiss’s updates during Patriots games gives you real analysis in comparison to whatever nonsense the TV commentators often fill the airwaves with. Adam Schefter informs his followers of various player statuses – crucial for anyone playing fantasy football. Peter King randomly drops some analysis about games he is watching and offers a look into what his praised Monday Morning Quarterback column will have.

In regards to real football, the only way I was able to track the U.S.-Honduras match in Honduras (since it was only aired in English in two bars in Massachusetts and not on regular TV) was by reloading Twitter’s homepage to see what Grant Wahl was saying – it was practically play by play.

Reporters are not the only ones who have something interesting to say. Meghan McCain, while on the opposite side of my political beliefs, is much smarter than too many people refuse to realize. Bill Maher is probably the funniest twitterer – who knows if that is the appropriate term – using the website. A couple of roommates use Twitter and both occasionally have funny tweets. On the other hand, there are many like myself who rarely Tweet and only use it to follow people.

So if you like football, soccer, any kind of sports and even just daily entertainment, Twitter is actually a great source.

I anticipated writing a column tearing it apart especially when an independent analytic group published a report classifying 40.55 percent of tweets as Pointless Babble, according to the group’s blog.

After the first couple of weeks, Twitter was living up to its Pointless Babble hype until I added people other than politicians. Twitter’s got staying power – don’t get caught in shock like I did.

Nick Milano is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at nmilano@student.umass.edu.

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