The Power of Her Majesty’s New Toy

Twitter strikes again.

While many sceptic traditionalists may dismiss Twitter as a mere catalyst for gossip and pointless updates, Her Majesty the Queen has already sent her first tweet.

Her tweet was sent at 11:35am on 24th October and read: ‘It is a pleasure to open the Information Age exhibition today at the @ScienceMuseum and I hope people will enjoy visiting.’

Despite receiving responses, which do not do Twitter any favours, such as: ‘TWEET US A SELFIE BABE
this event in technological history underlines that Twitter must be worth having. Good on you Liz, it’s time that people realised the worth of Twitter as the media’s most efficient medium of today.

Perhaps to the surprise of Durham’s Twitter addicts, UrbanDictionary define the global social network as, “A stupid site for stupid people with no friends, who think everyone gives a shit what they’re doing at any given time…” They also provide the rather abrupt acronym: “T’ext of ‘W’hat ‘I’m ‘T’hinking ‘T’o ‘E’veryone ‘R’eading. Indeed, I, like everyone else, am partial to the occasional irrelevant Tweet about the amazing food I have just consumed, or how tired I am feeling. Nevertheless, I do feel that these definitions are most definitely unfair.

Perhaps though, perceptions of Twitter have simply evolved since these definitions were published online in 2009. A considerable amount has shocked Twitter users since, and the 140 character tweet limit has been used to radiate vital information regarding important, global matters.

In 2010, The Guardian noted how Twitter effectively spread the word about the devastating Haiti Earthquake. @InternetHaiti actually tweeted at the time of the event: ‘Again another Afterschock at 00:18 ET with 5.2 magnitude.’ No other form of communication would have allowed such quick updates in precise detail.

Following this, Twitter trends have been influential to an unprecedented extent in raising awareness with intense dexterity. Other examples include the Japan Earthquake in 2011, or the phenomenon that was the London Olympics 2012. In 2013, twitter news bought everything from the birth of the Royal Baby and the election of Pope Francis, to Miley Cyrus inspired twerking, and the shock of Amanda Bynes’ new look. So far in 2014, we have been undoubtedly stunned by Robin Williams’ death and been made aware about the spreading Ebola issue.

So how does Twitter affect our student cohort here in Durham? Yes, the beautiful landmark that we see every day, Durham Cathedral, has long been on the Twitter hype with an impressive 5,527 followers, but the social network affects us in more ways than one.

The Durham Bubble is this. Durham students, the majority of which living a fair way from home, are densely populated into a tight city, which they rarely leave during term time. This creates the Bubble Effect, as we are so content with our close student network that we lack contact with the outside world. Hence, the name for Durham’s best online magazine for students was born.

Indeed, our bubble suits us. But unfortunately, it is worrying that, although Durham students are some of the most intellectual in the UK, they can be distant and unaware of current affairs and global news due to spending more time with their head in a book, or dancing to cheesy songs in Klute, than getting updated about current issues through television or radio. Why would one need to buy a national newspaper when they can access the Palatine or The Bubble for free? Who needs news updates on the radio when Purple Radio has all the updates a Durham student would want anyway?

Students here are generally not stupid, but when you hear them asking, ‘who is Ebola?’ or ‘what’s all this beef between the Palestinians and the Israelis?’ you know that something needs to be done. This is where Twitter is a Godsend. Students, whilst sharing pointless information about their banterous and messy ‘Lloydshack’ Wednesday, will also sub-consciously become aware of global issues through the magical ‘trend’ feature of Twitter. Another advisable facility to take advantage of is the ability to follow news accounts such as BBC News or Sky News. This way, a flick through a Twitter timeline can be beneficial and educational, at the same time as entertaining.

Of course, Durham offers to students a wealth of knowledge, a safe learning environment, a comfortable social world and extensive future opportunities. We wouldn’t have our bubble any other way. Nevertheless, we should all use Twitter to our advantage as the fastest growing media tool in the world. If Her Highness has jumped on the bandwagon (or royal carriage, so to speak), it must be good.

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