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4 Unintended Uses for Twitter

April 8, 2014
This wasn't my first choice of picture, but the one I wanted to use would have gotten me fired from my own blog.

This wasn’t my first choice of picture, but the one I wanted to use would have gotten me fired from my own blog.

In some ways, Twitter has been a big disappointment for me. First of all, nobody has sent me pictures of their body parts. I was under the impression that if you joined Twitter, people would automatically tweet pictures of their body parts to you, and it hasn’t happened. Maybe I’m supposed to tweet my body parts first, but I’m not the kind of person who does that. I could get fired from my job for tweeting body parts, but I can’t get fired for looking at tweets of body parts, as long as I do it at home and not at work.

Also, I can’t read all the tweets.   At first, I tried to follow a bunch of people, but most of them tweeted so much that I couldn’t keep up with everybody’s tweets, and so I unfollowed a bunch of people who tweeted too much so that I could actually read the tweets of people who tweeted at a reasonable rate. I guess I’m the Bizarro Twitter user. I appreciate people who use Twitter infrequently. The less you use Twitter, the more likely I am to follow you.

Everybody knows that Twitter has three intended uses: to send out pictures of body parts, to self-promote projects, and to be the first to tell lame jokes about current events.   Even though I don’t use Twitter the way most people do (I’ve tried but failed miserably), I still have several unintended uses for it.

1. Twitter helps me figure out what is cool.

Twitter tells me right away what’s cool. As a middle aged guy, I lost track of what’s cool a long time ago, but Twitter lets me know right away. In the last few months, I’ve learned that a bunch of people I’ve never heard of are famous and cool. I won’t use their names because they’re already famous and cool, and they don’t need me repeating their names. In fact, if a guy like me starts saying these people are famous and cool, they’ll suddenly become unpopular and then they’ll end up in rehab. They’ll probably end up in rehab anyway, but I don’t want to be the cause of it.

2. Twitter shows me that famous people are boring.

I followed a few famous people at first and quickly realized that their tweets were more boring than mine. The good thing about famous people’s tweets, however, is that a lot of people respond to them. It’s good that famous people use Twitter because without famous people, there’d be no conversation starters. Twitter would be a jumble of aimless comments with no responses. If you want to join an actual conversation, follow a famous person and jump in. But then I realized I didn’t like any of the famous people’s tweets/threads, so I unfollowed all the famous people.

Some people get mad when you unfollow them, but the famous people didn’t care. None of the famous people unfollowed me after I unfollowed them. Of course, none of the famous people were following me anyway, but it was still nice of them not to unfollow me.

3.  Twitter helps me do research.

I didn’t think I’d be able to do research on Twitter, but I was wrong. When I search a topic or hash tag, I always find something unexpected and useful. I’ve found lots of great book sites, literature sites, and writing sites because of Twitter. They’re great sites, but none of them have interesting tweets. Because they don’t have interesting tweets, I don’t follow the blog/sites on Twitter. I found them because of Twitter, but I don’t follow them on Twitter.

I would tell you what these blogs/sites are, but I’ve just said their tweets aren’t interesting (then again, neither are mine), and I don’t want to insult them by calling them out. I don’t want to make enemies because of Twitter, especially when I don’t use Twitter very much.

4. Twitter allows me to peek into other people’s lives.

I’ve been able to learn a lot about a bunch of random people on Twitter just by jumping from tweet to tweet. People put waaaaayyyyy too much information and waaaaayyyyy too many pictures of themselves on Twitter (not many body parts, though). If I were a creepy guy, I could immerse myself in Twitter in a lot of weird ways. But I know I’m not that kind of a creepy guy because I’ve chosen not to immerse myself like that.

I’m just saying that creepy guys COULD use info and pictures in a lot of weird ways.

But I don’t.

But some creepy guys could if they wanted to.

But I don’t.

And I won’t because I’m just a normal person.

I’m just saying that Twitter COULD be used like that, and it probably wasn’t its intended use, but I don’t use it like that.


Just because I don’t use Twitter much (even for creepy purposes) doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate it. I just don’t use it. I’m more of a blogger that a tweeter. I can barely complete my thoughts in 800-1,000 words.  But even though I don’t write on Twitter a lot, I can use it for other productive purposes.  And I promise, they’re the NON-creepy purposes.  I promise.

But enough about me! What unintended uses have you discovered for Twitter?  Do any famous people actually send interesting tweets? And most importantly, has anybody ever tweeted body parts to you?


Speaking of body parts, if you want to see the picture that would have gotten me fired from my own blog, click here.

  1. I track articles I read online that I find interesting and perhaps useful to me in the future using twitter. Many people have no other way to keep track of a site/particular post. I’m too lazy to write the whole address down and I don’t need to bog my Evernote down with “useless” clippings. Cheers for making me laugh.

    • I like that idea. I might start posting all the articles I like on Twitter so that I can keep track of them. But then everybody who follows me would know exactly what I was researching (which is kind of the point of being followed, I think). But I could unfollow everybody who follows me and then they would unfollow me, so then I could post all the articles I wanted on Twitter and nobody would know what I was reading because nobody would be following me.

  2. I mostly use it for funny stuff but unfollow comedians who are just advertising their shows or who are not as funny on Twitter as I thought they would be, which turns out to be most of them!

    • It has to be tough for comedians on Twitter because they might want to save the good stuff for their shows. Plus, if they’re really funny on stage, they’ve set a high standard for their tweets that’s impossible to reach. I sympathized with them, but I still unfollowed them. They seem to have handled it well.

  3. Is that a picture of you? You look great. And like a girl. But Jimmy is a boys name, so now I’m confused.
    I do Facebook and a blog but so far have drawn the line at Twitter. I don’t know if anyone is really interesting, or smart, enough to make want to read their musings several times a day. I think a lot of famous people have someone else who tweets for them.

    • If that picture had really been me, I would have posted it all over Dysfunctional Literacy. It would have been my gravatar. I’d have announced it to the world, “This is me! Kneel before me and worship me, dogs!” But it isn’t me.

  4. I’m so glad to encounter someone else who sucks at Twitter. You’re right. It is very easy to get creepy on Twitter. But I don’t either.

    People also get angry if they follow you and you don’t follow them right back. My follower count goes up and down like a yo-yo as people who followed me unfollow me if I don’t return the favour.

    I follow a few famous people, but only one’s tweets are interesting. I follow quite a few local journalists. Their tweets are very interesting.

    Sadly I’ve never received body parts either. Nor pictures of them.

    • I wouldn’t feel like such a failure if I’d received a body part. Just one would have been nice.

      One guy whom I unfollowed (because he sent out a dozen self-promotional tweets an hour) unfollowed me within minutes. That guy was a twitter pro!

      • There’s actually apps you can download to automatically follow, favourite and retweet others and it can even unfollow people when they unfollow you. Many people on Twitter actually isn’t even on Twitter. The app does everything for them. I could probably do that as well to have a bigger presence on the site, but it seems like dishonest laziness. What I do now is honest laziness. I can live with that.

  5. I loved this. You nailed what I think about Twitter. The only thing I use it for is the occassional laugh from the many funny people who write there (none of whom are the professional comedians, who seem to stink at using Twitter for that purpose). And to see if I can make someone else laugh.

    It’s a good way to force yourself to edit your own writing. 140 characters is not enough for most things I want to say either. You really have to practice economy with words.

    • The 140 character limit is tough, especially when I tried to add a link and hashtags. Ugh. Between the link and hashtags, I had to shoot for 100 characters!!! Outrageous!

  6. I agree with KokkieH Twitter is for twits. Looking at your 4 unintended uses:
    1 I don’t care about who/what is “cool”.
    2 I already know that famous people are boring
    3 I can’t imagine what research you can get from 140 words when so much more is available elsewhere, blogs, websites, reference books, libraries etc,
    4 I don’t want to “peek into other people’s lives, much less look at pictures of body parts!

    I maybe a dinosaur but at least I don’t tweet.

  7. That was a brilliant and funny post, thank you!
    I use twitter to follow a comedy game show called QI because they tweet interesting facts that often serve as party small talk or a good conversation starter. Who doesn’t want to begin a conversation with the fact that cotton buds were first called baby gays?
    Oh, and every new blog post gets automatically posted on twitter, in the attempt to lure more people in.

    • I’m so out of it (keep in mind, I didn’t know who the cool famous people were until a few weeks ago) that I had to look up this Ql thing of which you mentioned. Now I know of at least one cool, famous Twitter game… I think… unless I looked up the wrong game. Thank you!

      • I am very sorry to (probably) disappoint you but QI is not a twitter game (what are twitter games anyways, I feel so out of date right now). It’s a quiz show on British television and the researchers tweet interesting facts in between the episodes. But it IS cool, so…you’re welcome? 😀

        • Ha ha! I don’t know if what I found was actually a Twitter game or a bunch of people tweeting while they were playing a game that wasn’t a Twitter game, but it had the initials Ql, and I forgot what it stood for. Anyway, I didn’t try playing it. And it definitely wasn’t the same thing you’re talking about

  8. It would have won my vote as the best tweet. The people I think are famous are not boring to me but they are not of interest to twitters. I can’t say that worries me. But most of the other forms of modern electronic communication I am most grateful for. Things such as MOOCs, and blogs such as the one I am now, and I have now seen some good utubes (as made by the makers of MOOCs). Online purchasing of books makes me very happy but very broke.

  9. I suck at Twitter. I tweet now and again, but I also tweet boring stuff LOL! And I don’t really read tweets at all; they are too boring. Yeah. So Twitter turned out to be the playfield of the boring. – Loved your post, though! Made me laugh. 🙂 Thanks for that.

    • The few people I follow have some interesting tweets, but part of it is because they don’t tweet very much. It was the ones who sent out dozens (or more) tweets every day that were really boring. And the famous people too.

  10. Thanks for writing this. I have a Twitter account but for the life of me never figured out how to properly use it. I also can’t understand 90% of the stuff that’s posted. It is as if people tweet fragments of their random thoughts as they come into their heads. I do find Twitter useful in terms of getting links to potentially interesting posts/articles and it is also a quick way for me to read news headlines.

  11. I signed up for Twitter finally, but found I didn’t have a need for it (or time) in my life. Maybe later when I’m a famous author 🙂 or at least when I think of some witty 140-character things.

    • You’re right, time is an issue, especially for somebody like you who writes a lot of original content. I’m not sure if it’s a good idea to spend much time on Twitter if it cuts into the writing time. I decided it wasn’t.

  12. Trails and Ultras permalink

    I thought I would like Twitter but it beat me…and I’m a social media whore. There was just too many tweets from the same people each day, endless pages of tedium. It was too much hard work finding the good stuff so I gave up. Sorry, Twitter 😦

  13. i had a twitter account. This particular band, that led my teenage hormones to ‘crazyhood’, was the reason i joined.Then i realized how i had no interest in whether someone took a large dump or ate a pancake. Frankly, all the tags and hashtags turned my brain to mush seeing as how i am challenged when it comes to technology and social media. So i decided to leave the little bird that was getting on my nerves.

    • “…the little bird that was getting on my nerves…” I like that. Did anybody really tweet about taking a large dump? I’ve heard vicious rumors that people tweeted bodily stuff like that, but I haven’t seen any (not that I want to). I guess it’s a trade off. I didn’t get to see body parts (bad), but I haven’t read about body functions (good).

      • well you know people tend to get a bit carried away. I mean not that I have personally (thank God for this) come across stuff about body functions. twitter and random are two words that are meant for each other and if people can be as random as -“hey! eating pancakes today yum yum”, what’s to stop them from announcing a certain ‘nature’s call’ on a social media website. Worst part is if someone did dish up the nerve to do so people would actually comment or think about commenting on that tweet.

  14. Ha! I’ve been conTIMplating setting up a Twitter feed for my blog, but just can’t seem to bring myself to do it on account that I hate Facebook so much and can only assume that Twitter will be worse. Thanks for the insight.

    And if I ever do, you will be the first to receive a shot of my body parts. I hope you like back hair.

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