“I don’t get it. So it’s like a Facebook status update in less than 140 characters?”

That was what I said to my friend Adam, when he showed me this website called Twitter. I signed up for Twitter April 9, 2008 and had three followers: My brother, Adam and Adam’s friend Jason (who is also my friend now).

That was then. This is now.

I seem to wake up to tweets from brands (or retweets for brands) and articles about social media. To me, this is like someone calling you on the phone and telling you the amazing power of the telephone.

I use social media. It’s not my career, though.

Today I sat and reflected about the old Twitter I used to remember, when a lot more people used it and there was a sense of transparency. Here are a few memories of the old days:

A Tweet Up?
It’s funny now, but back in the day, the concept of a tweetup was insane. The idea was proposed by (what I call) the iOS 1.14 crew (which I’ll explain a bit more later)—a few of us who had jailbroken iPhones and used an app called Twinkle to search for each other.

The tweetup used to be a few people having some beers together—finally getting to meet each other in real life and talk about life. The new tweetup is full of sharpie pens and nametags with Twitter handles. It’s all about networking.

The 1.14 crew
Oh man, the iOS 1.14 crew. These were a group of friends in Seattle who had jailbroken iPhones and used the Twinkle iPhone application. At the time, Twinkle was douchebag-free. The idea of using a Twitter application on the iPhone was unheard of at the time, and I was following people I didn’t know! I remember thinking that it was amazing how a group of people could band together, get a glimpse of one another’s lives. We really cared for each other, providing support when things weren’t’ going well for one and being really happy when good things happened.

This sort of thing happens on Twitter, still, but again, there’s noise around it.

The conversation now
The conversation turned into trending and branding. I can’t pinpoint the time, but for some reason I want to say around the time Shaq started using Twitter. It wasn’t his doing at all, but this is when brands started utilizing Twitter and saw its marketing potential.

Here’s what changed:

  • Somewhere along the way, it became a numbers game. Before, people followed who they thought were interesting (manually) but now it’s about how big your Klout is.
  • There seems to be a lot more ambient noise around actual conversations. It’s like when everyone is talking about themselves and no one is actually listening to what each other are saying. There is a big difference between talking and conversing.

That’s what a lot of it is now…marketing.

Instead of insightful thoughts and contemplations, it’s a lot of contests, updates on current products, etc. Again, I don’t mind it, it’s just different. Perhaps this is a sign of me getting older, when I wish things were how they used to be versus adapting to now.

I love Twitter, but I want to join the conversation…