10 Things I Love About Twitter

If I had the power to go back in time and tell the past version of myself from ten or fifteen years ago about Twitter I don’t think I would be able to explain it to myself. It’s one of those things that really makes no sense until you get a feel for it and gain some experience utilizing it the right way.

In lieu of a perfect explanation, here are ten of my favorite things about Twitter:

1. Access to intelligent people. You can create your own research department with Twitter in basically any subject imaginable. There are experts on sports, investing, pop culture, politics, foreign policy, movies and the list could go on. Many of them are even more than happy to reply to a well thought out question or comment.

2. Random acts of wisdom. Sure, the majority of tweets are bad puns, dad jokes and comments on people’s fantasy football teams. But every once and a while you’ll be lucky enough to find yourself on the receiving end of a profoundly wise statement or two, like the following from Jason Zweig:


3. It’s extremely random. A recent example from Steve Martin:


And the modern-day Thomas Edison, Tesla’s Elon Musk, interacting with Seth Rogen:


4. Social media friends. I’ve made a ton of social media friends through Twitter. Many I’ve talked with or even met in real life. ‘Hey, don’t we follow each other on Twitter?’ is a conversation I’ve had multiple times in the past couple of years, which is another thing that would have made absolutely no sense to past-me in my Back to the Future fantasy.

5. Being a fly on the wall of intelligent conversations. I was on Twitter for a few years before I started blogging. I never tweeted or interacted with anyone in that time, but I still found a ton of value in following intelligent or interesting people. Being able to follow along with conversations, healthy debates and witty banter can be very useful, whether you’re participating or not.

6. It’s my news feed. I used to have a bunch of go-to websites or TV stations for my news updates. Now my first stop is always Twitter. It’s not always reliable, but Twitter is the best source of breaking news available today and it’s not even close. By the time the news gets to a website or even a 24-hour news network it’s already been talked about for some time on Twitter.

It’s also great for sports highlights. When I was younger I would have to watch an entire hour-long SportsCenter to see a 30-second clip of a game or play I may have missed. Now it’s on Twitter 30 seconds after it happened.

7. @AwardsDarwin. This feed makes me laugh out loud at least once a day. Follow them and thank me later.

8. Access to thousands of devil’s advocates. To be truly informed you have to be willing to look at the other side at all times, even if you don’t agree. Finding intelligent people out there that you don’t necessarily agree with is a great way to keep yourself honest. Everyone should have at least a handful of hate-follows on Twitter. 

9. Finance Twitter. This group mainly operates when the financial markets are open. The craziest thing about these market junkies (myself included) is that they all seem to understand each other when most outside observers would assume they’re speaking gibberish. For example, a breaking finance news story or market-moving event will occur, and without skipping a beat, Finance Twitter springs into action with an immediate onslaught of analysis, cheesy puns, and commentary even though no one really explains exactly what they’re referring to. It’s both impressive and kind of scary.

10. You’re in control. I have a social media confession to make — I’ve never been on Facebook in my life. Never created an account. Never even visited the website. It got big a couple years after I was out of college and I think it just missed me. I was never that interested in it. It’s an absolutely massive website, so maybe I’m nuts for staying away from it.

It wasn’t a conscious decision I made, but I guess the biggest reason I’ve chosen Twitter over Facebook is because it gives you the freedom to pick and choose who you follow or interact with. Facebook will always be more popular, but my sense is you don’t have that same type of control on Facebook. It remains to be seen if Twitter’s leaders will be able to turn it around as a publicly-traded company like Facebook has.

Regardless I still find it to be a useful service. Can it be a giant, outrage-filled waste of time? Of course. Just like everything else on the Internet (and in life), you can choose to make the most of it or you can choose to waste your time.

Further Reading:
The Cast of Characters on Finance Twitter


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What's been said:

Discussions found on the web
  1. Minh Tu commented on Sep 28

    I am an old geezer (57 year old) that does not have a Facebook account but has a Twitter
    account. I use my twitter to research my biotech/energy stock investment, which has
    been very profitable so far. Your article echoes most of my sentiment about
    Twitter, it is like a customized report service for any area of interest. So far I
    have only scratch the surface with customized news and finance feed that
    would cost an arm and a leg if I have to pay for financial newsletter (and they
    are not that good).

    • Ben commented on Sep 28

      The great thing about it is that you can probably find a handful of really smart people who focus almost exclusively in the biotech/energy spaces as well. That’s the kind of research and feedback that you would have had to pay for a number of years ago.

  2. Eric commented on Sep 28

    I haven’t used twitter in a while and i am interested to know some of the people you follow , would you consider listing a few?

    • Minh Tu commented on Sep 28

      I follow these for biotech: @tgtxdough @dougallan1 @biomaven @ogut_ozgur @vikramkhanna_ @jq1234t @bradloncar @lomu_j @andybiotech @pdrennert @zbiotech @hydrogenblimp
      for energy @iamfree4lunch @crudereporter and the website http://www.mcdep.com

      • Eric commented on Sep 28


  3. 10 Tuesday AM Reads | The Big Picture commented on Sep 29

    […] the entire industry and possibly reshape it (The Economist) • 10 Things I Love About Twitter (A Wealth of Common Sense) • Denier vs Skeptic […]

  4. Chris Lau tweeted on Sep 29

    I have and use Twitter, but find the click through for financial content much higher on stocktwits. There are two ways to maximize twitter. First, follow as few users as possible. Less noise. Second, create lists.

    • Ben commented on Sep 29

      I’m a Stocktwits user/fan as well and agree it works for more all-finance all the time stuff.

  5. Stephanie Myles commented on Sep 29

    I find just the opposite in terms of Facebook and Twitter.

    On Twitter, anyone on the planet can jump in and offer their two cents’ (or half a penny) on something you Tweet. And do. Or jump into a virtual conversation you’re having with someone else – usually halfway through when they’ve missed the salient points and therefore have probably missed the point. That’s true whether they follow you or not. Or whether you follow them.

    On Facebook, I’m only friends with people I know; any posts only go out to people I know. And if someone I don’t know decides to send me a message, it goes into a folder where I never see it.

    I use them for different purposes; Twitter is a work thing, Facebook a personal thing. But in terms of freedom, they’re night and day.

    Twitter is like being in a bar where a room full of total strangers can hear you, and many feel a compunction to pull up a seat and tell you what they think – whether you invited them or not!

    • Ben commented on Sep 29

      This is very true. There’s definitely too much trolling that goes on with Twitter users. Block/mute helps but you do open yourself up to more of the bad interest behavior.

      • Stephanie Myles commented on Sep 29

        Yeah, but you can’t do that until these people have entered your (virtual) life 🙂 It’s not even the trolling and baiting so much; it’s just that, if I were actually interested in what you thought, I’d follow YOU. Subtle distinction, I know. So you’d better bring the good stuff if you’re gonna jump in.

  6. mikecrosby commented on Oct 03

    I know what you mean about FB, though please allow me, give FB a chance. There’s a reason over 1 billion use it. I used to think it was about a picture of what someone is eating for lunch, and I’ve gotten away from that.

    There’s a lot of brilliant people on FB too. And yet there’s this “I grew up in …” and I run into people I knew from 50 years ago. It’s quite fun, and people who were old neighbors or friends, I hear about their deaths and it would never have happened without FB.

    • Ben commented on Oct 03

      I have nothing against FB, it’s just something that I’ve never taken the time to try. Maybe some day…