Twitter is great. It is my favorite form of social media. Twitter, for me, is not a place to meet people; Facebook handles that. I just use Twitter as an outlet to say what is on my mind. I stopped writing Facebook statuses after I discovered Twitter; why write on two platforms when you can just use one? My Facebook is now simply for starting new and maintaining old friendships while my Twitter serves as a medium through which I share my ideas. (I will never get around to Instagram; I do not get the whole take-a-selfie-and-post-it culture).
Interestingly, I am not the only person taking this approach. More and more people are becoming less active on Facebook these days and spending more time tweeting. I remember back when my friends used to have multiple status updates; now they just do that on Twitter. If you cannot recall the last time that annoying kid posted 15 Facebook statuses in one day, that is because he has found a better way to do it – he is tweeting his life away. For some reason, writing whatever comes to mind is less annoying when it is done on Twitter than on Facebook. There are no studies proving this, but that just happens to be the case, and people are fully aware of this.
With this in mind, people just cannot seem to stop tweeting. They make sure to announce when they go to sleep and when they wake up; we know who they get lunch with; they tell us about how they cannot wait to leave work. People do not just inform their followers of things that are worth sharing; they are now oversharing. Actually, who determines what is worth sharing? What I may find share-worthy may be inappropriate for others. “How To Overshare: 7 Things We Forget We Do Daily On Social Media” looks at this phenomenon by exposing these bad habits and the consequences they tend to have. People complain about privacy but do not mind tweeting their exact location to the world. We do not realize how much we overshare because Twitter just has that effect on people; you feel like you are talking to just your followers, but unless your account is private, anyone can see what you are saying. Even if your account is private, one of the followers you have approved, can copy whatever you say and share it on his/her public account. There really is no privacy on Twitter and the only way to censor yourself is to be very careful of what your tweet.
It started with just letting people know the few things you found interesting enough to share. Now people feel the need to let everyone know exactly what they are doing at every time of the day. People on Twitter devote huge chunks of time to give people minute-by-minute updates of events – this trend is referred to as live-tweeting. Live-tweeting can be beneficial. I cannot count the number of times that I got information on serious events from people’s live tweets. A good example was the Boston Marathon Bombing last year; I remember being on my computer in class and seeing a breaking news article on Twitter and following CNN‘s live tweets. Also, very recently, during the Oscar Pistorius hearing, one of my Twitter friends kept retweeting the live tweets of a journalist who happened to be at the court and I found that very helpful. This journalist served the function of a stenographer in the sense that he shared Pistorius‘ testimony word-for-word.
Live-tweeting cannot be that bad, can it? Afterall, we get a lot of information and it keeps people updated. It is becoming problematic, however, because there is now a growing trend of people live-tweeting television shows. There is a culture surrounding this behavior where people who live-tweet shows communicate with each other and build a community based on their love for the show. ABC‘s Scandal, for example, encourages live-tweeting and fans of the show are able to connect with the stars of the show through these tweets. Scandal fans are definitely the most outspoken fanbase; they even have a name – Gladiators. Gladiators are very reactionary; they talk about every little detail. The writers of the show are aware of the kind of the fans they have and, as such, continue to fill the show with suspense and and surprises they know will trigger fans to talk about the show continuously. While this seems rather harmless on the surface, it really has a negative effect on the viewing experience.
Live-tweeting a show simply leads to spoilers. What happens when people live-tweet a show is that if you are unable to watch it when it airs on television, you may as well stay away from Twitter because people are definitely going to tweet about it. I personally had this problem during the latter episodes of Breaking Bad. The show always had a core fanbase but gained a lot of steam after season 4, and that was when it became a big deal on Twitter. Breaking Bad always did great among critics, but once it became a trending topic on Twitter, fans knew they could not watch the show in peace anymore. The younger generation definitely caught on to the show later and recommendations went from word of mouth to countless tweets. My viewing experience changed after the show became a hit online. As someone who purposefully missed episodes in order to binge-watch multiple episodes in one sitting, I had to be very careful with my habits now. I tried to warn Twitter friends to refrain from tweeting spoilers but that did not work. I have never been a fan of watching shows on television, so my answer to this problem was to get off Twitter on Sunday nights and then watch it online about an hour after its airing. This was sufficient until the finale. There was so much going on that I knew the only way I could avoid spoilers was to watch it on television. I definitely would have enjoyed the episode more if I had watched it on my computer.
Another way live-tweeting ruins the viewing experience is in regards to different time zones. Shows air at different times due to the time difference between the coasts; for example, a show that airs at 8 PM in New York will air 3 hours later in Los Angeles. This also leads to spoilers. Reality shows, such as The Bachelor, suffer because the results are revealed to a certain portion of the audience first. Some of these viewers have a hard time containing their excitement and end up spoiling the surprise for fans on the west coast by tweeting.
Due to the time difference between the US and the host nation, NBC figured it would be better to delay the airing of some of the events. However, fans at the events tweeted the results and people knew the outcome of certain events even before NBC aired them.
There must be something about live-tweeting that makes people love to do it. For Scandal fans, it is more like a ritual. It is a way to form identity and bond over a common love. For others, it is simply a way to let people know what is going on. Live-tweeting can be informative and is a way of citizen journalism. On the other hand, however, live-tweeting is destructive. It puts in the open information that is not meant to be out yet. I get that people who live-tweet do it because it is enjoyable for them, but people really need to stop live-tweeting in cases where there is a chance of ruining a surprise. If what you are live-tweeting is not breaking news, maybe you should not be live-tweeting it.