People struggle with why Twitter is special. It’s special because it counters, better than any other technology, the timeless social obstacle of “out of sight, out of mind”. Regardless of how much time you’d spend with a given person if they lived nearby, relationships atrophy when distance comes between you.
The longer someone you care about is gone, the more an invisible barrier grows between you–one that makes it awkward to reinitiate contact. It’s as if loved ones over time somehow change from tangible people into abstract ideas that require effort to interact with. This sinister effect of distance turns best friends into strangers, and technologies such as mobile phones and video conferencing don’t help. They don’t help precisely because the barrier is the initiation of contact, not the ability to communicate once connected.
Twitter solves this problem in a way that no other technology has. Through a stream of common, real-world updates about one’s life, Twitter reminds our fickle, here-focused brains that those we care about are real, and prevents them from disappearing into the world of the abstract. In short, Twitter’s magic is that it’s able to keep close people close regardless of how far they are from each other, which is a feat that no other technology has been able to accomplish. ::