Marwick, E., Alice, Boyd, Danah. (2010). I tweet honestly, I tweet passionately: Twitter users, context collapse, and the imagined audience. New Media Society,13(114), 19. doi: 10.1177/146144481036531 Retrieved from http://nms.sagepub.com/content/13/1/114.full.pdf+html
Monday, November 14, 2011
Academic analysis: I tweet honestly, I tweet passionately
I recently read a study on how Twitter users imagine their audience and how they adjust communication from face-to-face conversation to imagined audiences online. Some users say they tweet for their friends, family, and their fans. Some say they tweet just for themselves, using Twitter as kind of a "live diary" of sorts. These types of Twitter users dislike the notion of having an audience, the study found, because it's not authentic to who they are. The study also finds that "ideal audience" is often a mirror-image of yourself. This creates the concept of the "micro-celebrity" which I find so interesting and so accurate from my time spent on Twitter.
People with absolutely no "traditional" fame can become "Twitter famous" through various means, whether its posting inspiring quotes or being the biggest fan of a celebrity. These people gain over 50k followers for no discernible reason. I think this can change and warp the way we look at celebrities as a whole and blur the lines between "normal" people and the more famous people we put on a pedestal. This can also have an adverse effect for journalists who are not supposed to respond to or interact with comments made on their news articles. With Twitter, people can come at you via your account and try to discuss the article with you, which goes against what I was taught at The Lantern. We're taught to never engage with our audience, but Twitter is starting to change that notion.
This is one of the reasons why The Lantern doesn't put its staff members' Twitter handles underneath our bylines because there have been issues with this before. This is an issue pressing all writers across the world. "New media has changed the broadcast model of the audience, decentralizing media production and distribution." And social media is changing it even further. The implication this could have on society is astounding, because it warps a lot of what we already think we know about audience management. We often think of audiences as being in the shadow, not being able to reach out and communicate with us. Social media has effected that permanently. More and more celebrities, reporters, and politicians are feeling the backlash of being too candid with their Twitter accounts because their audience is right there.
Social media isn't going anywhere, so users will have to adjust and figure how to relate to their audience and navigate the waters of the Twitterverse more carefully.