Why We Tweet

Pilot recently conducted a (seriously un-) scientific survey asking a cross-section the Twitterati–everyone from writers and mommy bloggers to politicians and farmers–why they log into Twitter. Spoiler alert: It has less to do with Bieber #FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) than you think. Here are a few highlights:

Cattle farmer @waynekblack told us he uses Twitter to “help spread the positive stories that the #farmers in #OntAg [Ontario Agriculture] should be talking about with non-farmers.”

Writer @alexderry uses Twitter as an interactive bibliography, recording daily news stories – and conversations about those stories – he can return to later for inspiration.

And @DipikaDamerla, Member of Provincial Parliament for Mississauga East-Cooksville, tweets to engage in real time with her constituents and to share timely local news.

Whether we’re tweeting to reconnect people to their food, deepen the human quality of our reporting, or up the level of engagement with citizens and political decision-makers, Twitter bends obligingly. That’s the thing about major technological innovations – you never quite know how or by whom they’ll be appropriated. Useful technology rallies ingenious new adopters in a cycle of  invention and appropriation, re-invention and re-appropriation.

But it isn’t just the chatterboxes who define the platform. Passive observers have begun to see Twitter as a powerful way to collect and interpret raw personal data – a fact that has teaching hospitals live-tweeting surgeries, health organizations tracking disease outbreak, and researchers considering post-market drug surveillance programs that could surpass those of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). And that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

So, why do you tweet? Canadian author Ian Brown’s theory is we do so to reaffirm our existence. “The lure of Twitter is the lure of Right Now,” he wrote in the Globe and Mail. “There is no death in the moment of Right Now.” Hey Twitter, are you listening?

Want to chime in? Tweet to @PilotPMR.