05/06/2013 10:10 am ET Updated Jul 06, 2013

Twitter: What's the Point?


It's a question which I guess can apply to every social networking site, but sometimes I wonder what the point of Twitter really is. Sure, celebrities can get in touch with their adoring fans, but for the most part all they're receiving are spam messages (you only have to look at Justin Bieber's mentions to realize this). And yes, companies can spread news about promotions and new ventures, but for ordinary people, why tweet? I do have a Twitter account, but I highly doubt that anyone cares about what I ate for my breakfast, or that yesterday I ate sushi with my friends (and yes, most of my tweets seem to be about food).

The problem for me -- and I think most teenagers with Twitter accounts -- is that it makes procrastinating all too easy. Exams are coming up, and whilst revision is extremely important, I feel like I learn slightly more useful information from UberFacts. Also, all of those parody accounts make me laugh too much with their spot-on observations and commentaries on daily life. I find myself scrolling through my timeline going "OMG! I also have to have my feet under the covers at night in case a monster eats me" when really I should have better things to do.

There are, on the other hand, some great things about Twitter. It's how I get most of my news (from HuffPost of course), and it's a good way to stay up-to-date with breaking stories. I found out who became the new pope by checking on Twitter, and likewise followed minute-by-minute accounts of the U.S. presidential elections in November. I think the site can be used by news organizations to make people generally more aware of what's going on in the world -- after all, it's way easier to read an 140-character tweet about a news item than it is to read a full article and if something in particular catches your eye, you can find out more and read the full story.

Twitter can also be used by large groups of people for both good and bad. Maybe most notably, news of the Arab Spring uprising spread via the site, encouraging more people throughout the Middle East to join the movement. It also let people in the outside world find out more about what was happening, as bans on media made it hard to get information out.

However, in the 2011 London Riots, young people used Twitter to organize meeting places for where the riots would take place -- as news spread so fast, groups could congregate and start the violence long before police were able to get to the scene. There is also, of course, the issue with cyber bullying and online trolls. Celebrities and people in the public eye are subject to enormous amounts of scrutiny, and as Twitter allows you to contact them, many are victims of abuse by loners sitting behind their computer screen. Many people receive verbal abuse, but in some cases this even escalates into death threats, meaning the police get involved as well.

So, while Twitter does have its problems (both for celebrities and people prone to procrastination), it's still a fun thing to have on your phone to check every once in a while, as long as you don't spend your entire life on it. And let's face it, with every trend, something new and more fun will be around within the next few years.