There' s no question that Twitter has become the next big thing in internet social networking. Yet to this day, less than 10% of North American internet users actually "Twitter." But unique visitors the Twitter website has grown over 1300 % in one year.

So what exactly is Twitter?

Twitter is an automated service for sharing of short 140 character communications. Why 140? So that you can send "tweets," or communications from your cell phone as well as your computer. Most celebrities have a twitter channel as part of their marketing and promotion. And now businesses are seeing Twitter as a business tool.

Some feel that Twitter is just a vehicle to kill time, filing any moment with useless drivel. But does it serve a deeper need? Moses Ma, writing in Psychology Today, believes it does. He says that we are living in a culture starved for real community, which is a message that Robert Putnam gave us in Bowling Alone. Our brains have been biologically hard-wired to operate within a social community, but the industrial age and its extension, free market capitalism has weakened those bonds. People are compelled to tweet, facebook, and to email as well as meet face to face, because they crave social connection.

The critics of Twitter would argue that it is a near perfect example of an intermittent variable reward, a key addictive element of slot machines, and Twitter can trick the brain into thinking its having a meaningful social interaction when you actually aren't, and finally, Twitter can add to the already recognized problem of overwhelm through multi-tasking, reducing your ability to perform.

The proponents of Twitter would argue that Twitter, like all social networking, aims primarily at social needs, like those for belonging, love and friendship. At higher level, Ma suggests, Twitter is related to self-esteem and social recognition. Twitter allows normal people to feel like celebrities. You get a following, and people "like you." Dr. David Lewis, a cognitive neuropsychologist at the University of Sussex argues that Twitter helps people feel less insecure.
So do people use Twitter to self-actualize, the highest human need according to Maslow? Deepak Chopra and Tony Robbins and scores of other personal growth and spiritual gurus have twitters. Or are they just exercising a new form of smart marketing and promotion of their products?

One way to look at Twitters is what is the impact if you participate. Are you just adding to the crushing weight of spam and useless garbage already out there in cyberspace, or are you participating in great planetary social experiment that will help us all evolve into better human beings?

Ma would argue that being in the "twitterverse" is like a rive of human awareness, composed of billions of 140 character molecules, each a snapshot of life or thought or reflection, and that river of pure information equals energy in the quantum universe. And therefore it is a good thing.

Given that as a background, will Twitter go the direction that Facebook is now heading, and become a new vehicle for business marketing and promotion, and the distribution of unedited news and information?

Author's Bio: 

Ray Williams is Co-Founder of Success IQ University, and President of Ray Williams Associates, companies located in Phoenix and Vancouver, provding leadership development, personal growth and executive coaching services:

Ray is a consultant, executive coach, author and speaker, and writes for a number of publications around the world.