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Social Justice in Social Media: Twitter vs. Blogs

I’m a fairly recent convert to Twitter.  I’ve actually had the service since close to its inception, but I never really managed to be a sustained user until this summer.  My use of the web for activism and social justice has largely centered around blogs, and around my Google Reader.  Every day, I skim through more than a thousand blog posts, news articles, and reports, flagging things I’d like to read later.  If I’m lucky, I do actually get to them and then re-flag to share, but the system needs work.  That, I’m discovering, is the beauty of Twitter.

When I scroll through my Reader dashboard, I have to skim over a few paragraphs of each post and try to figure out, from these first few paragraphs, whether the post is worth reading later.  Often I flag it and then learn later that it had nothing to do with what I thought the topic was.  Sometimes I miss things that I actually would’ve wanted to read.  That’s why, over time, I’m starting to delete blogs from my reader and instead follow the blogger/journalist/organization on Twitter.  Twitter isn’t just a curation tool for media. Even if you Tweet every single one of your posts, it forces you to summarize in some concise way.  You might tweet your headline (I do this, with some modifications, myself) or you might tweet a sentence about the post with a link.  Either way, it’s much quicker for me to scroll through these on my phone, starring interesting topics, than it is to look at the first paragraph of a post, which may or may not have to do with what I want to read about.  Even if the feed reader blurb is a similar length to a Tweet, it’s often less of a thesis statement.  That’s what Twitter really is, I think.  It’s the 140-character thesis.

It’ll be interesting to see, over time, with so many people who write and curate content now on Twitter, what happens to feed readers.  I intend to keep mine around for recipes and lolcats, if nothing else.  But I can see substantially slimming it down, giving myself more of a chance to write about social justice, rather than constantly reading.


FYI, I know some of you were already following me under my old Twitter name, but if not, I’m @queerscholar now and the Twitter is going to be more for the same sort of stuff I blog about here, as opposed to personal updates.  (If you know me personally, there’s always Facebook.)