If you havenít already, you should get a Twitter account.
Now I know social media can sometimes be more of a bad habit than anything. I canít count how many times Iíve heard someone swear up and down that theyíre done with Facebook and intend to delete it. Most of the time, itís me.
But Twitter is a different kind of beast altogether. Facebook is something of a yappy Chihuahua that shows up at your door every five minutes demanding constant attention.
Your cousinís uncleís brotherís former roommate liked the Bachelor. Stop everything! (Spaceballs, anyone?)
Twitter is more like a loyal and obedient golden retriever who just wants to be loved because it sometimes starts a revolution or two.
Woof! Tax the rich!
But seriously, thatís really what it comes down to. Facebook is this overtly complex social media experience that seems more intent on forming a symbiotic relationship with you in order to steal your marketable secrets.
Twitter keeps it simple. It starts with an idea: what are you doing right now?
What makes it truly special however is that its simplicity is incredibly powerful. No matter who you are, where you come from or what you do ó Twitter will make you better at it. You donít even have to be a real person.
This is where it gets incredibly useful. Sure, you can follow all your favourite friends, chat with them and share media and links, but on Twitter you can also do that with Obama.
He probably wonít answer you back, though.
Nevertheless, Twitter is somewhat programmable. You can set it to task in so many ways. For example, my Twitter feed, easily accessed by phone or computer from anywhere, gives me constant live updates from roughly 250 or so journalists in B.C. and across Canada.
What are all those sirens going off in Yaletown about? Iíll just check Twitter.
News feeds, live updates from the ferries, radio scanners, government announcements, public relations people ó you can see how something that gives you access to colleagues youíve never even met, and other great resources, could be so useful.
But it also gives you a chance to market yourself to people you donít even know, a very valuable tool for artists, writers, photographers and other creative types. Got a blog? Start by promoting it here.
What about privacy? Really, all you have to do is check out the latest gag accounts. When the government axed the penny, someone made @CDN_Penny; ďthe official Twitter of the Canadian Penny.Ē
There arenít really any major privacy settings with Twitter. The only information it, and its users, have, is that which theyíve chosen to give. And you can easily lie, as the Penny or @PierrePoutine can easily attest.
Truthfully speaking, Iíve only had Twitter for about a year and a half or so. Despite being first in line for pretty much every Internet novelty, I resisted it fiercely. I blame the Facebook experience. It makes you feel like an exposed sheep.
It takes time to really harness its potential, but once you do, youíll wonder what you ever did without it.
Make an account, define it, and connect. Itís something of a meticulous affair and there are certain Twitter no-nos that take time to pick up, but itís definitely not difficult.
Think of it like building your own Ďwebí and hey, you can start by following your friendly neighbourhood @coast_reporter for the latest updates around our little nation.