As Twitter celebrates its seventh birthday this month, tutors from various departments have lovingly gift-wrapped their students as a sacrificial offering to this social media god. In what began as an exercise in social media relations in the Department of Media and Communications has now become a tweeting mania, taking hold of other departments and apparently modernizing age-old academic disciplines. Various tutors have begun the year by impressing upon their students the importance of Twitter as a social forum in which to post up ideas about subjects and summaries of the assigned weekly readings.
For those amongst us that subscribe to the FOMO view (#fearofmissingoutbitchez), this perhaps, is a dream come true for you. Having your tutor and peers following you on Twitter and bumping up your number of followers from 120 to 132 puts you one step closer to reaching that elusive Top 100 of Twitterholics, according to the number of followers you have.
For others, Twitter may very well mark the dawning of a new age for class participation marks. That summary on the Week 6 readings in 140 brilliantly composed characters may very well allow you to upstage that guy who always feels it incumbent upon himself to disagree with everyone else in the tutorial #winning #wankersgonnaweep. And if your tweet just happens to get re-tweeted by an academic of high repute, than you can probably be assured of impressing your peers and finally getting a date with that hot kid you’ve been checking out all semester.
However, not all students are fervent hash-taggers and tweeters, and attempts to socially modernise tutorials can be seen as an imposition of a social forum that they just don’t want to be a part of. One must question if Twitter really does pose any major benefits to our education. Composing a 140 character tweet on a subject as diverse and controversial as politics or history is in many ways a belittling of weighty topics that are still being debated and discussed in academic circles. Furthermore, posting it up on a social media site essentially means that once it’s up on the internet, it’s permanent. The possibility of being held accountable for a tweet that you may have posted up in your early university years shouldn’t have to be a major concern for students.
But most important of all, online Twitter arguments just don’t compensate for the thrill of being in the same room as a Young Liberal and Young Labor member as they debate their little political hearts out, practicing for that period in the not-so-distant future when they will be Prime Minister (or so they like to tell us.) Call me a twit for saying it, but I think tutorials could well do without Twitter.