Rise and Shine - The Impact and Reach of Twitter

Big K.R.I.T. - Rise and Shine (via meskinkid)

 

I ain't lying it's the time
To wake up, wipe ya eyes
Rise and shine
Free yo mind

- Big K.R.I.T., "Rise and Shine"

 

Twitter is now about five years old and has quickly become one of the premier social networking websites. And yet it encounters much derision, mostly from those that don't use it. I remember seeing someone comment on this site a month or so ago, saying something along the lines of: "The day I send a tweet is the day I die."

Harsh, I initially thought. And I still think it is a little harsh, and a little ignorant. Those who don't use Twitter make fun of gibberish-sounding words and smirk when they hear stories that center on the site. Much of this is because the perception is that so many users tweet out messages like "lol i just had breakfast" or "hangin with my bros rofl." It doesn't help that ESPN often reports athlete's meaningless tweets on Sportscenter.

But Twitter can be much more than that.

It's been a smidge over a year since I first got a Twitter account. If you read my account, you may be surprised upon hearing that it wasn't a spur of the moment decision.

My account as it is now has a very ‘stream of consciousness' feel to it. Much of what I think often gets posted if I think it's funny or I think it should be said. This does not mean I have no filter. I like to give people an idea of what I think, within reason of course. I don't like to be single-minded, so I talk about much of my interests: sneakers, television, music, and of course, basketball. My Twitter is me, condensed into 140 characters at a time.

That's not how I began.

Before last June (of 2010), I had thought about joining Twitter for a month or two. I really took notice of the site during the NBA playoffs because of the jokes, its incredible speed and the distribution of sports news. Twitter's evolved so much that stories are being broken on there before major outlets. But mostly, it was the jokes.

Before I jumped into Twitter, I wanted opinions from my friends thought about it. Everyone I talked to about the decision leered at me with contorted faces, half sneering and half perplexed as to why this guy who barely existed on Facebook would want to join one of the most public social sites on the ‘Net.

And that's how most people who aren't on Twitter still react to it, though it deserves better.

There are a minuscule number of sites that help you make connections and network as well as Twitter. For me personally, it's helped me find writing as what I want to do with my life after foundering in misguided efforts in college to find my calling.

Of exceptional importance was coming into contact with the Bobcats Baseline crew, who had talked to me and written a short piece in the spring of 2009 on my friends and I, who had brought Cardboard Gerald and some of our other signs to a game. I thanked one of their founders, Dr. E for the piece and after a little back and forth, I joined their site to write occasional features and later, game recaps as well. From there I began writing even more, branching out to other sites, and it snowballed from a hobby to become a passion and obsession. And then I made other connections and it rolled on, eventually leading to where I am today, writing for Rufus on Fire and coming off of an internship with the Bobcats.

Before that, I was struggling in economics and business courses in college, yet to find anything I loved to do. I was treading water as the deadline to decide on a major approached. When I started writing for Bobcats Baseline, I discovered the passion for writing I didn't know I had. And when I got even more ingrained into the sports writing industry with my internship, I had no doubt this was where I wanted to take my life.

Without Twitter, none of this would have been possible.

As a writer, Twitter has been crucial to helping me grow and helping broaden my audience while introducing me to peers that are as obsessed with basketball as I am (most of my friends think I'm weird. OK, I am weird, but they still don't understand it). Even if it doesn't have the incredible impact for you like it did on me, Twitter's a powerful tool for communication. Twitter makes connecting and networking effortless. You make a joke or tell a story or just talk about something topical and you can strike up a friendship with someone you've never seen in person. It's amazing.

For people not on Twitter, this may be hard to understand, especially since their idea of social networking has, in all likelihood, been molded by Facebook, which is completely different. On Facebook, (for the most part) you friend request people you meet in real life and interact with them. On Twitter, it's almost the opposite: you follow people you don't know, but find interesting without having met them.

Tweeting in and of itself is unique to each person. Like writing styles, each person has their own steez (style + ease) emanating from what they discuss to how they type their thoughts.

How you do that is up to you.

People have tried creating Twitter rules that are just glorified guidelines. CNBC's prominent sports business reporter Darren Rovell did that this past summer, creating "The 100 Twitter Rules To Live By." The problem is that Twitter is what you make of it; you shouldn't abide by rules you don't want to follow. If you want to beg star athletes for a retweet on your birthday, go for it. But understand that it may have an impact on people's perception of you and whether they want to follow you.

Above all, be yourself. I'd recommend talking to others who have shared interests and share your opinion because the connections you make with people on Twitter are where you find the most meaning. Also, have a sense of humor about yourself and don't take anything on Twitter too seriously.

Athletes and Twitter

One of the other major reasons people join Twitter is to follow their favorite celebrities and athletes. Be forewarned: they may not be as personable as you imagine.

Gilbert Arenas made a huge splash this past summer when he returned to Twitter and began giving away free pairs of sneakers from his own collection. But people were shocked by some unsavory jokes and plenty of fans soured on the once-popular high-scoring boyish prankster.

But don't let that scare you away. There are still a ton of pro athletes who go out of their way to interact with fans. Besides, there's more value in conversing with people from all over who share your passion.

The following is the full list of verified Bobcats players on Twitter:

Matt Carroll

Dante Cunningham

Boris Diaw

Gerald Henderson

Corey Maggette

Tyrus Thomas

Kemba Walker

D.J. White

Assistant Coach Charles Oakley

Rufus on Fire Writers on Twitter:

Connor Huchton

Joshua Priemski

Ben Swanson

David B. Walker

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