|Travelator, via Flickr (CC license)|
|Though it’s often trivialized and denigrated, instant gratification is a very powerful thing.|
“I’ve had the same experience — less social bookmarking, more Twitter. But Twitter not great for retrieval.”
“Twitter offers immediate gratification and connection with people, not just resources. But retrieval is hard.”
This got me wondering about why I really use each of these social media tools in the first place. But Beth has a point: I’d be lying if I downplayed the appeal of instant gratification.
The question then becomes: What precisely am I finding so gratifying with Twitter?…
For me, the main reason I use social media tools is they allow me to express my natural urge to share and connect. I’m actually a fairly social person. I enjoy feeling connected, feeling useful, and interacting with people. That has always been fun for me. I guess it provides a sense of belonging and validation — but based on authenticity rather than conformity. (I always sucked at conforming.)
Social media tools also provide me with a sense of relief, to have a community available that’s a source of inspiration, energy, and connection. It’s becoming a valued resource. I no longer feel like I have to do everything myself. I can see more clearly that I am but part of a greater whole, and that takes a lot pressure off.
To be honest, the practical benefits of social media are (at least for me) mere icing on the cake of the emotional rewards. Of course, the practical benefits not insignificant.
- Twitter often gives me my first heads-up of news that’s important to me. It also provides ongoing context on what various smart people are up to, which leads to ideas and opportunities.
- I use del.icio.us to keep track of interesting items that I also wish to publish as linkblog posts on my various blogs. I also follow some del.icio.us tags to track issues.
- I use Google Shared Stuff to pass links along to specific people, without publishing them to my blog, while also not losing track of what I sent to whom.
- I use Furl and Google Notebook to coordinate more concerted research projects (although Furl’s losing ground with me)
Of all these tools, Twitter is the only one that supplies me with a steady stream of engaging but manageable feedback that feels (and is) personal — and therefore matters more. Basically, when I post something interesting or thoughtful to Twitter, I’m rewarded by getting responses (not all the time, but often enough). I don’t get that sense of engagement through the other services I use. And maybe that’s just me.
The end result is that I find myself increasingly posting to Twitter about things that formerly I would have posted to del.icio.us — even though I would have gotten more mileage out of posting to del.icio.us, since del.icio.us generates my daily links posts to Contentious.com. Why? Because it’s more likely that by posting to Twitter, someone will respond with either a simple reaction or a statement that makes me think or that piques my curiosity. And frankly, that’s more fun.
I’m not sure what all this means; but it is what it is. Thoughts? Please comment below.