In class, we read and discussed a book by Illana Gershon, called The Breakup 2.0: Disconnecting over New Media. The author talks mostly about Facebook, and how it can cause problems with relationships. However, it was written six years ago and many changes have been made since then. New forms of social media came out, and a majority of teenagers switched over to these apps. Facebook now has a stigma of being used by older people. Teenagers and young adults now use apps such as Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat. The one I will be focusing on in this blog post is Twitter and will connect experiences of those around me to the six key theoretical elements: media ideologies, idioms of practice, structure of medium, remediation, second-order information, and public.
Twitter is a somewhat older form of social media where people post short thoughts. Twitter Inc. is based in San Francisco, California and has more than twenty five offices around the world. It was created in the summer of 2006. However, it reached the peak of its popularity around 2012. During that year, more than one hundred million users posted three hundred and forty million tweets a day. It has been declining in popularity over the past couple years, as new forms of social media are created to replace it. Each thought has to be one hundred and forty characters or less. People create a profile and follow others that they know. A tweet can be replied to, retweeted, or favorited. If you retweet something, all of your followers will see that tweet. Favoriting something is similar to “liking” something, and is a little bit more private, but others still have the access to see. It will not show up on their timeline, but if they go to your profile they have the option to see everything you favorited. Twitter also has direct messages, also called DM’s, that are private messages between you and one of your followers. I will continue to explain Twitter, and how it can have effects on relationships and friendships.
I thought the graph above was pretty interesting. As you can see, people who use Twitter everyday are supposedly in relationships for a shorter period of time than those who do not. It shows the app has a little effect on relationships, but not too significant. If one were to look up the statistics for Snapchat or Tinder instead, the impact would be much more drastic. I know many couples that have broken up from Snapchat, but none that have broken up because of Twitter.
The first theoretical element is media ideologies. Media ideologies are beliefs about communicative technologies where users explain perceived meanings. As people started to become more familiar with Twitter, they began creating their own rules on how it should be operated. For example, I was at my friend Bailey’s house and she was telling me about this new boy that liked her. She had never talked to him before, however, he kept favoriting all of her tweets. Bailey’s mom overheard and did not understand how she knew that he was flirting with her. This is a media ideology because the boy did not directly tell Bailey that he was interested in her. On Twitter, if someone favorites every thing you post, there is a good chance they are trying to get your attention. We tried to explain to her mom that sometimes a person is trying to send a secret meaning when they favorite a tweet. One of Bailey’s tweets said “Lost all of my contacts; text me your names.” This boy obviously did not have Bailey’s number, but him favoriting it inferred that he would like to have it.
Idioms of Practice
The next element is idioms of practice. Idioms of practice can be defined by how people agree on the appropriate social uses of technology. My friend Carly gave me a perfect example of this. She told me about how her and her last boyfriend broke up because of social media. Carly said that Zack would tweet other girls and she was perfectly fine with it. However, when she found out that he was using Snapchat to talk to other girls, she began to question their relationship. People that are unfamiliar with these apps would be confused as to why talking to girls on one app is okay, but not on the other. She explained that when he was tweeting, everything was public and she could see what the conversations were. When he was snapping other girls, she could not see what they were talking about and began to worry. This explains idioms of practice because we have agreed upon what is acceptable and what is not acceptable to do on certain apps. Carly did not believe that people in relationships should be talking to those of the opposite sex on Snapchat.
Structure of Medium
The structure of Twitter is fairly similar to apps like Facebook. Users have a timeline, where they see all the tweets from people they follow. You have the ability to have a public conversation with someone, or a private one. Private messages are called DM’s. DM’s are often where guys will ask for a girl’s number. For example, that is how my best friend Janie started dating her fiancé. People call it “sliding in the DM’s.” Kyle messaged Janie and struck up a conversation. Eventually, he asked for her number and they started talking. Now, three years later, they are engaged and expecting a baby. The above picture is humorous, but it actually has some truth to it at the same time. Before social media became popular, most spouses would meet each other through school or work. Now, people get in relationships with someone that they may not have ever met if it weren’t for social media. In Kyle and Janie’s case, they actually did meet by direct messaging over Twitter.
Remediation means that the way people use new technology is affected by the technologies they are already familiar with. My cousin Abby is the perfect example to use for this element. Abby has had Twitter for a while now, and tweets over and over again. A couple years later, she finally made a Facebook account. Abby used Facebook just like she used Twitter. People on Facebook started to defriend her, and she could not figure out why. While Abby’s constant posts on Twitter are accepted, they are frowned upon on Facebook. Twitter is made for multiple small, pointless posts. However, Facebook is supposed to be used for more significant life events and keeping your family updated on things they should know. While Abby did not receive as rude as comments in the picture above, she could still infer people did not appreciate her posts. “Just got McDonalds” would be acceptable for Twitter, but not Facebook. She was unaware of this, as she was not aware of the “rules” of Facebook.
Second-order information is the background knowledge of a situation and expectations of communication that allows one to interpret the words. It is not what is said, but instead evaluating the choice of medium and how it is expressed. One of my friends Jack had an experience with this. Jack was friends with a girl in one of his classes and direct messaged her on Twitter one day. He saw that she was tweeting some sad things and wanted to cheer her up. She responded back with an attitude saying she had a boyfriend. Jack was actually not trying to hit on her at all, as he is gay. He was just trying to be nice, and did not understand why she automatically went to that assumption. Someone had to explain to him that direct messaging has a stigma for being where guys try to get girls’ numbers. Jack was unfamiliar with Twitter’s second-order information and was offended until someone explained it to him. In this situation, second-order information ruined the possibility of a great friendship.
What is the Public?
The public on social media is very similar to being in a public place. The public is anyone who can see what you are doing or posting. For Twitter, the public would be your followers. Different users have different size publics, as it is dependent on how many followers you have. It could range from one person seeing your posts to millions seeing them. On social media, it is your choice of what you make public. If you do not feel comfortable for everyone to see it, you probably should not post it. I think teenagers need to be more responsible about this. My friend named Holly learned this the hard way. She was direct messaging her friend Hannah talking crap about another friend. When she went to respond to Hannah, she accidentally tweeted it for all of her followers to see. It took her a minute to see what she did, but she deleted it as fast as she could. Unfortunately for Holly, one of her thousand of followers decided to tell the third friend what she said. The friend got really upset and began to start a lot of drama. Holly and Hannah obviously should not have been talking about their friend in the first place, but should especially have not done it on social media. When posting anything on social media, whether public or private, people have the option to screenshot it and send it to whoever they want. Even if you are sending something to only one person, you need to keep in mind that it is possible for it to reach beyond that.
There have been multiple instances at my old high school of where a girl would send a guy a naked picture and the guy would send it to all of his friends. That happened to a girl in my grade named Stacey. Stacey DM’ed a guy a topless picture of herself and the next day it was spread all across school. The guys were making fun of her and the girls all looked down on her. This is a perfect example of how something you send to one person can still spread across hundreds of people.
Overall, I believe Twitter is a great app to connect with friends and make new ones. It is an easy way to get your thoughts out and to see what others are thinking, as well. There are many accounts on Twitter that are made for a single purpose. There are humorous accounts, ones with recipes, ones for sports, etc. When I am bored, I get on some of the funny ones to pass time. Most people my age prefer Snapchat over Twitter, but it is known to cause many relationship problems. I have personally experienced that too, so I would rather just get on Twitter. It is less private than Snapchat, but it also has direct messaging if I need to talk to one person. I believe another reason I like Twitter so much is because it is where I reconnected with my boyfriend. At the time, he lived forty minutes away from me. If one of us did not have the app at that time, it is very unlikely that we would have crossed paths again.
As one can tell from the given examples, there have been numerous bad experiences and miscommunications with the app. It is a good idea to have your friends inform you about a new form of social media when installing it. If those in my examples above had asked about Twitter, they might not have had to deal with the problems that they did.
“Digital Writing.” Media Ideologies – Digital Writing. N.p., 11 Dec. 2011. Web. 08 Dec. 2016.
“Digital Writing.” Public vs Private – Digital Writing. N.p., 12 Dec. 2011. Web. 08 Dec. 2016.
Gershon, Ilana. The Breakup 2.0: Disconnecting over New Media. Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 2010. Print.
“Second Order Information: How Today’s Technologies Play Games with Our Minds.” Second Order Information: How Today’s Technologies Play Games with Our Minds. N.p., 04 Apr. 2012. Web. 08 Dec. 2016.
“Twitter.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Dec. 2015. Web. 08 Dec. 2016.