Tomorrow is my 2nd Twitter anniversary so it’s the perfect opportunity to take stock of what it means to me.

At the time of writing this, I’ve done 19,563 public posts (not counting DMs)  which works our to about 27 per day over two years. As I’m usually online about 18 hours a day, that works out to an average of only 1.4 posts per online hour.

I often have people who aren’t yet using Twitter ask "how do you find the time?" Although I guess I’m possibly a fairly heavy user of Twitter compared to most, I only post on average once every 45 minutes. Each post takes… what… ten seconds? Hardly a big time waster. Let’s say I spent another couple of minutes every hour scanning replies, DMs and general tweets in my feed. I guess if I was generous, I might say I spend 6 minutes an hour reading and responding – that’s 1.8 hours a day (6 minutes x 18 waking hours) or 10% of my day. And it does sound like a lot. Until I factor in the following:

1. I work from home. No daily commute to listen to the radio and catch up on the morning news / gossip. Let’s say most people spend an hour a day commuting, either in their car or on public transport. That’s an hour they spend (out of 18 hours in the waking day) probably reading or listening to some kind of media. On those rare occasions during the week when I am in the car, heading to meetings etc, I’m normally listening to podcasts.

2. I don’t watch TV news. The only TV I watch at all is pre-recorded stuff on my laptop (at the moment – Mad Men, The Daily Show, Kings and DVDs). Most people spend 30 – 60 minutes a day watching some kind of news / current affairs (including those god-awful morning shows). I get my news from Twitter and from scanning the  blogs. Oh and from podcasts when I go for my run, of course.

3. I’ve been living alone for the last year, my girlfriend living half a world away, and so I’ve had no social life and tweet mostly (I suspect) in the evenings to provide some relief from work. Wow… that sounded a lot more pathetic than it feels. 🙂  I guess it’s true – people on Twitter are losers who have no social life.

So, I figure most people spend a couple of hours a day watching, listening or reading the news. I might (and it’s a stretch) spend the same amount of time on Twitter. If I counted the amount of time I spend on Twitter and reading blogs, I’d say it’s about the same. So, for me, Twitter and blogs have replaced mainstream media.

As I said, I’m probably a fairly heavy user of Twitter, which is justified somewhat by the line of work I am in (social media). Having a good handle on how Twitter works is my business.

Let me tell you some of the things I dislike about Twitter at the moment:

  • MLM chumps.
  • Affiliate pimps.
  • People who auto-send DMs pimping stuff when you follow them.
  • Follow Fridays.
  • The way people are jumping on the Iran bandwagon without much evidence of critical thinking. Cmon people – think.

For the record, I immediately un-follow people who commit the first three crimes.

Okay, now the things I like about Twitter:

  • Intelligent debate – it’s hard to find, but it’s out there. Too many people seem to think you can’t have an intelligent discussion 140 characters at a time, but that’s just wrong. It just requires discipline and clarity.
  • Support – Twitter is better than any tech support service I’ve ever used. But I’m not just talking about tech support. Mention that you’ve got any sort of problem, and you’ll usually have a stream of people – most of whom you’ve never met in real life and probably never will – offering to help out. These people counter-balance the brain dead MLM and affiliate folks and stop me from giving up all hope for the human race. 
  • The sense that this is the dawn of…. something. Something big. Something important. Something profound.

Twitter kind of reminds me of the skin jobs on BSG when they are on their base ship, dipping their hands into the pink water that somehow plugs them into the control feed of the ship. It’s also a bit like being Superman with his super hearing, just letting the entire planet’s voices wash over you.

I often find myself wondering about what a mind-blowing platform Twitter (and the interwebs in general) could be in an historical sense for the human race – just imagine jumping in the TARDIS and scooting back 100 years to 1909, then trying to explain the concept of Twitter to folks. What potential! The whole world (well… the connected world) talking to each other! The kids in New York shouting out real time support to the kids (or are they embedded CIA operatives pretending to be kids?) in Tehran! I wonder what the folks in 1909 would want to do with it. Or imagine going back another 30 years to 1879 and explaining it to Karl Marx. I wonder if he’d think it was the perfect medium to discuss MLM, Jon & Kate (and I honestly have NO frakking idea who they are), and whether or not Megan is as hot as Angelina.

Here’s my question for you all – are we smart enough for Twitter? Or will we waste it?