Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

Is Twitter Stupid? It’s More Than You Think

As you probably know, I’m a fan of Twitter. I’ve even wondered if I tweet too much (a minimum of 20-30 times a day). But I can’t help it. I love this silly little social network, and for good reason.

Is Twitter Stupid?

I’ve gained real friendships on Twitter, found employment there, gotten a lot of blog traffic from it, and even learned a lot through asking questions. So it surprises me, when people say that Twitter is stupid — especially since it’s now been around since 2006.

This little blue bird sometimes gets a bad rap, mostly due to misunderstandings and unfair prejudices. Critics tend to assume the following:

  • Twitter is narcissistic. It only panders to people’s obsessions with themselves and the desire to be famous.
  • Twitter is a waste of time. I’ve heard people say, “How can you spend hours on that thing?” (And that’s a valid critique.)
  • Twitter is trivial. I often hear naysayers criticize it for being used to merely talk about what people are eating or when they’re going to the bathroom or whatever.
  • Twitter is just another social network. Why not just stay on Facebook, where the real action is?

Those people don’t get it. They don’t understand what Twitter is all about. And I don’t blame them; it took me two-and-a-half years to figure out how to use Twitter. Here’s why I now love it:

  • Twitter is a conversation. I’ve found real, authentic community on Twitter in ways that I’ve never before experienced on Facebook.
  • Twitter connects you with the world. Some people have been able to use Twitter to build a platform from scratch. Justin Halpern wrote a book and got a TV show from his twitter account. (Warning: his tweets contain some profanity.)
  • People are making a difference on Twitter. Just follow @invisiblepeople if you think Twitter is narcissistic or trivial. Some people are using their 140 characters to create real change.
  • Twitter is unique. With Twitter, you don’t have to be connected with someone mutually in order to follow them (like you do with Facebook’s “friend request”). Beyond that, I can’t explain it, but Twitter is different. With the hash tags and retweets and constant conversation, there is just something unusual and extraordinary about this medium.
  • Twitter is a resource. It’s my go-to spot to ask questions, sometimes before Google. You can also use Twitter Search to find short, helpful content. I’ve heard about others using Twitter as a personal search engine, and I’ve learned a lot, using it this way.

Here’s a great video about Twitter, celebrating five years in the making, compliments of Mashable:

There’s more to Twitter than you may have thought. Discover Twitter today.

How do you use Twitter? Do you think it’s stupid? Share in the comments.

Thanks for reading this article! If you’re new, you might want to read more about me or follow me on Twitter.

About Jeff Goins

I write books and help writers get their work out into the world. I am the best-selling author of four books, including The Art of Work. Each week, I send out a newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity.

Ever Wonder If Your Blog Post Is Good Enough?

We built a free tool so you don’t have to worry about that ever again.

1. Pick your goal of the post
2. Answer 5 basic questions
3. It tells you if it’s good enough and how to make it better

Click here to use the tool.

  • Still getting my tweeting feet wet. Not sure I’m a believer yet. But I have to remember that 2 years ago I thought…why in the world would I blog? Now, I wish I hadn’t waited so long to start! So… maybe twitter is the same way.

  • Bethdeesb

    Great post Jeff! I totally agree! I like facebook, but love twitter and converse on it much more than I do on fb.

    The only thing I dislike about twitter is if you have a protected account you can’t reply to someone or send them a tweet unless they follow you. I like the protected account because the tweets don’t show up on the search engine before you log on. And even if you have someone blocked for any reason, they can still see your tweets from the “search engine”. Just wish there was a way to protect your account, but at same time be able to send tweets to anyone without them having to follow me.

    Other than that, I love it!!

    Thanks again for your post!

  • twitter makes me laugh, think, and grow…it has been a great tool for me to meet some really cool new friends and I like it much more than facebook…the only thing that is “stupid” about twitter is some of the “sucking up” that I see people doing in an effort to be re-tweeted by a “twitter celebrity”

  • I used to think Twitter was stupid when I first signed on, only because I didn’t get how to use it. Now I love it – and use it way more than Facebook.

    Like you said, it really is a connection tool, and probably the main reason why I use it.

  • Could not agree more with the benefits of twitter.
    Everything I do professionally and really for fun is because of twitter. I have made great friends, gotten jobs, and able to work for myself because of twitter. Heck, I moved to Nashville because of twitter.

    • I knew you would, Kyle. Love how you use twitter Kyle. You’re a friend first.

  • Good thoughts. I think two things keep people away from Twitter, 1) When you sign up, it is not intuitive as to what you’re supposed to do. There is a steep learning curve, and 2) people don’t realize that Twitter largely revolves around common interest groups, not around friendship with people you already know. Unlike Facebook, connecting with strangers is helpful and non-creepy because you have something in common. To that end, it is much better than Facebook for resource sharing, getting news, and asking questions.

  • No doubt about it, Twitter is a beast, if only a small one compared to Facebook. But it almost feels more beastly, what with the speed of the incoming information, and the colossal sprawl of the variety of content that is available.
    I love it. It is true, it’s no mean trick to get going on it but once you do get the hang of it, you have created an extremely valuable tool to build BIG equity for your personal brand.
    Thanks, Jeff!

    Peter

  • Like Facebook, I think it creates some valuable connections, but, once again like Facebook, it can be an incredible time suck. For that reason, my wife isn’t so fond of Twitter. And… I get her point!

    Great post, bro.

  • No, I love Twitter. 🙂 I’ll vouch all the time for it.

  • Twitter is awesome. I think it’s especially useful for people who want to build a platform for their message. Otherwise, I think facebook would suffice for the simple act of keeping up with what your friends are doing. But if you’re a content creator, artist, author, etc, it’s truly invaluable.

  • I didn’t understand Twitter at first, but the more I use it, the more I like it. The main reason I like Twitter is because I find useful information (and sometimes fun) through links my friends share. I guess twitter works better for this than facebook because I can connect with more people rather than just my “friends.”

    Basically, I’m learning more because of Twitter.

    Sure some people tell me about their lunch or other stuff, but I like the links best.

    • I love that you’re liking twitter, Ashley. And I personally love seeing what people had for lunch. Have you ever played with foodspotting? It’s awesome.

  • I love Twitter too. Twitter is awesome because you can not only connect with people but create strong friendships.
    For example: Last fall, my mom who travels internationally about 90% of the year was in Singapore for the first time. She had an allergic reaction to something and ended up with cellulitis. (This is a really long story I’m abbreviating.) She needed a doctor, quickly. I DMed one of my Twitter friends who happened to live in Singapore and they picked my mom up and took her to the dr. My mom thought it was little bizarre at first but I had been friends with these people for over a year.

  • I don’t think Twitter’s stupid. I’m still trying to figure out what I think of it, though. I’ve been a tweeter for about a month. It’s tough to start from scratch in the social network scene of Twitter when I’ve got hundreds of friends in the facebook world. It has been great to connect with other bloggers and to read great posts (I wouldn’t be reading or responding to this if I hadn’t been on Twitter). At first I didn’t like it, but it’s growing on me a bit.

  • Pingback: Interesting Reading #720 – Nintendo fiasco, All iPhone5 rumors, You’re doing it wrong, 15 overlooked jobs and much more! – The Blogs at HowStuffWorks()

  • great post Jeff.
    twitter is one thing to me–community.
    i can pose questions, make critiques, seek feedback, talk to distant friends and mentors. it is quite possibly one of the most critical tools i have in my toolbox.
    that being said, i can be narcissistic and waste a great deal of time on the network.
    still great post. trying to read your blog more. keep it up

    • thanks, chuck. i love that. it’s the same for me.

  • Pingback: Creativity Quiz #5…With a Blogger « RenaissanceEgg()

  • I think your “Twitter is unique” point about how Twitter does not require mutual connection/following is what makes Twitter differentiated from Facebook, and justifies its position as a standalone social network.

    Those who don’t care for my Tweets about my beloved Liverpool Football Club can just keep scrolling and completely ignore that stream. If I updated Facebook with a play-by-play of every soccer game that LFC plays, I would most certainly get “unfriended” by a number of people on FB. With Twitter, I feel free to interact with other Liverpool fans on game day, using hashtags, direct tweets, and replies.

    Sometimes I see a Facebook friend update their FB status on the same subject (e.g. the President’s State of the Union Address, the Super Bowl, their kid’s swim meet) over and over again, and I would think to myself “this guy really needs to be Tweeting.”

    I might also add that Twitter, more so than FB, lends itself to updating on the go. The plethora of mobile Twitter apps (Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, Peep, UberTwitter, etc) allow smartphone and iPad users to quickly inform followers about what’s going on. In this respect, the 140 character limit works in Twitter’s favor and prevents oversharing that can be a bit self-defeating for those who use social networks on mobile devices.

  • I use Twitter as the ultimate personalized news aggregator. I follow people whose viewpoints are valuable to me. Sometimes they are people that I respect, people with whom I agree. Other times, I follow people that I don’t necessarily respect, with whom I don’t necessarily agree. By following them, I’m able to see the world from their eyes…or at least what their eyes are watching and reading online. I love that. Twitter (and the community I’ve found there) have broadened my horizon unlike anything else, and I’m truly grateful for that.

    • I use it for this, as well! Thanks for sharing, Lindsay.

    • I do this, too! It’s my first go-to for news and resources!

  • Esther

    It’d be pretty dumb to think Twitter is stupid. But there would be a big lack in my life if there were no Facebook. The variety is necessary. Similarly, I am thankful that God created both men and women.

    I can’t help thinking that Twitter is especially attractive to men reflecting their typical mode of communication: short, to-the-point, gettin’ the job done.

    • interesting… thanks for the comment, esther!

    • I think you’re right, Esther. Good observation.

  • Crusherman34

    I personally think Twitter a waste of time.  Get out and LIVE!

  • Juderyan2

    Twitter is a boring site for boring people with boring lives.  How many people who actually accomplish anything with their lives (not celebutantes) bother with this site?  I admire the use of social networking for political protests, but the vast majority of Twitter is garbage.  It is actually a sad excuse for a life.

  • Old Fashion

    Get off the d*** phone and do something in real life and watch where you are walking or driving. Why do we need more things to occupy our daily lives, I cant wait to get away from talking from people at the end of the week which means no more phones, text messages or emails. Peace and quiet is heaven.

    • thanks, but i mostly tweet from my computer. does this advice still apply?

  • No I don’t think Twitter is stupid. Actually Yes I was one who criticized how stupid Twitter was but after I learned how to use it I realized that Twitter is offering a lot more targeted and unique traffic. For example, every time I promote my ecourse I get a few more sign ups but if I do that on Facebook I get nothing. So how about start a post called “Is Facebook stupid? It’s just about people talking about themselves”! lol It really does sound like it …

  • Pat

    Twitter is stupid only if it is used stupidly.

  • Thanks for this post Jeff. Very useful to help others to understand why Twitter could be useful for them.

    I use twitter as a tool of learning, sharing and networking.

    Since you lived in Spain I guess you can read my 3 reasons of  why I prefer Twitter here: https://bit.ly/seBZKH. Basically what it says is that Twitter is minimalistic and a great learning and change tool.

    At the end, Twitter is just a tool. How we use it, makes the difference.

  • Michael

    People are being punished for sayiing what they REALLY think and we have draconian libel laws in the UK.

    With all the PC crap taken to an extreme now-again more in Britain than anywhere else -its absolutely not the place to be for anybody is outspoken.

    A sad place for sad people.

  • Sharris1191

    Twitter is stupid, and this was the gayest article that I’ve ever read.

  • Rotten Johnny

    A minimum of 20-30 times a day? “Authentic community”? “Connects you with the world”?

    Go outside into the real community and connect to the real world, face to face again. I scarcely see anyone nowadays who can practice basic conversational skills; groups of people sitting at a table not even socializing because they’re all doing this crap. This shit so often is the vehicle for the socially retarded and inept, allowing them to settle for a virtual social life, a little technological bubble of idiocy.

    Sometimes I can tell from over the counter that the clerk I am speaking to has major comprehension issues over very simple language; I assume it’s because I didn’t text the fucking order. I was ordering a drink two weeks ago when the bartender (in his forties) pulled out his smartphone in the middle of the order to text/tweet/look at porn or whatever. WTF? Learn authentic social skills, fuck sake.

    BTW, Twitter, FB, all that shit is not stupid, for it is impossible for anything abiotic to possess any such intelligence or lack-thereof. These are mediums that reflect the user, as a gun doesn’t shoot a person until some American idiot pulls the trigger, a car doesn’t hit and kill a person until a drunk driver gets behind the wheel, and a mirror can’t tell you that you’re ugly until you look right into it. Saying Twitter is stupid instead of the user is just stupid, so on that note, I agree with at least one thing in this article.

  • Wayworld

    I think T is stupid and that’s fine, let them tweet but please stop littering up my internet content with those bloody #’s! %$*&$. I could be wrong, that’s why I’m here (so far I still hate it like cyclists on the highway).

  • Twitter connects you with the world .. really ? you don’t even know who is behind a tweet, maybe it’s an Alien who tweet. I don’t think you understand twitter, why in the hell are you following 32.1k people ? to get more followers ? and you call twitter the real world, more than the half of your followers are fake, so you got the answer, twitter is a fake world and nothing more than that.

  • Keith

    Nah it’s stupid, and that’s fine, but don’t make it out to be some bloody amazing positive thing for humanity. It’s a stupid site that people waste a lot of time on doing pointless crap. It’s the intellectual equivalent of the Days of Our Lives, or the Bold and the Beautiful or (insert random trashy soap opera). It’s like when people go on about how video games are actually these fantastic things that teach morals and… blah… blah… blah. No, come on, video games are a time waster that distract us from reality for a little while. Same deal with twitter, same deal with other mass online “communities” or rather “fads” that came before it and will no doubt come after it.

  • Haha I was going to start a flame war here based on a misunderstanding of your headline:

    Is Twitter Stupid? It’s More [Stupid] Than You Think

    But I see you’re a proponent of it so it’s all good. Long live Twitter (and Tweetbot 3 for iOS)!

  • Brenda McGraw

    Wow. I look back over the comments and there were some pretty cruel comments. I love Twitter. I really didn’t get involved with Twitter regularly until this year and I have been on 2 radio podcasts, written 1 article in a really cool magazine and best of all found my coach (or should I say he found me) all through Twitter who helped me take my book to a #1 Amazon BestSeller. Twitter is a great way to connect with people you would never otherwise have the opportunity to connect with.

    • Bongstar420

      I’d prefer to not get advertised to at all..it appears that is the value in twitter….a way to circumvent advertising limitations….

      Why are you commenting on Disqus if twitter is so great? Also, there is plenty of media that only allows FB users to comment. Maybe you should use FB

  • Karen Lange

    Well, I must admit, I am not the biggest Twitter fan on the planet. I need to learn to use it more effectively. Right now it falls into the “one more thing for me to do” category, but I am hoping to change that soon. Thanks for the info and tips.

  • TZone

    The only time I ever use Twitter is for complaining so everyone can hear my gripes. Why should I be the only miserable one? Seriously though, Twitter is stupid. I like how you can find out news and what not, but I find all too many people use it how I do, a way to spill your gripes so anyone who will listen can hear without providing any constructive feedback because they are limited to 40 characters. Not just that, but it’s much easier to annoy people who you don’t have to deal with in person. Imagine people running for politics in 20 years, how much will they regret those tweets they sent when they were 21?

    • Bongstar420

      I thought it was 140 characters…even better though. God forbid we use too many words to discus a subject.

  • D Rant

    The ultimate self delusion. Twitter is for morons. And yes, that may mean you are a moron. Racists, assholes, fascists, numbskulls. Not anyone can have a normal conversation. If you think that’s not true you are suffering from confirmation bias. You get what you want. If you want to argue with simpletons that won’t change their mind, you get that. If you want to vent to simpletons that feel the way you do, you get that. There is no genuine discourse. You might as well be talking to a wall.

    • Bongstar420

      I assumed twitter is attractive to people who don’t have more than 140 characters to say about anything.

  • Scott Keith

    Pretty much every tweet I get from people I follow is just a link to their blog or some other site… no content, just a massive collection of links. “Awesome story: click here to read”. Blah. The only time I have ever found Twitter useful is for complaining about Bank of America.

    • Bongstar420

      Ya…maybe we should twitter how the head of BofA needs to see the inside of a jail. I wonder how effective that would be.

  • theotherRJH

    Twitter is the ultimate millennial tool. 160 characters to represent the total length of their thoughts.

  • John

    I tried Twitter twice. Both times my account got hacked. Haven’t been back since because I found it to be idiotic. I’m not going to say that only idiots use Twitter, I’m just saying that it appears to be a breeding ground for navel-gazing and far too many links to too much non-content. I feel like Goin’s pro-Twitter bullet points are an isolated incident of social media actually being productive, but I have no proof to support that claim.

    “How can you spend hours on that thing?”

    A-freaking-men.

    • Bongstar420

      Navel-gazing…lol

      And had you said this on twitter, I’d never have noticed.

  • dan pre

    there is good and bad in this existence of world whether you believe like twitter existence like any other platform what and how we are dealing with is the matter rest is cloud https://www.buyadsenseac.com/

  • Dack

    Twitter is all about arbitrary opinions and that is not good. A mans man would never be found on “Twitter” which sounds so fruity it’s ridiculous

  • Bongstar420

    LOL…..

    What does it do that you can’t do without it? ….and how is limiting speech to 140 characters or less the mark of intelligence?

    FB is smarter, but is still retarded

    Disqus is actually better than either of these restrictive media