North Texas Daily

Students climb aboard the Twitter follow train

Students climb aboard the Twitter follow train

Students climb aboard the Twitter follow train
February 19
00:23 2015

Harrison Long / Intern Writer

From breaking national news to serving more than 115 million active users a month, Twitter is everywhere.

The networking potential of Twitter spawned the hashtag #UNTFollowTrain, which has been tweeted thousands of times over the course of the last year, and is used by current and incoming UNT students to better understand their fellow classmates.

“I started using UNT Follow Train the summer before my freshman year,” biology sophomore DeWarren Timmins said. “It is a great outlet for networking and meeting new people, and my follows have increased since I first used it.”

While not unique to UNT, the follow train trend has gained the attention of the faculty as well as the students.

“I view it as a good way to aggregate information into a single source for students,” public relations professor and social media expert Samra Bufkins said. “It could be used to spread word about a volume of organizations that might have previously been unknown to many among the population.”

Bufkins said while Twitter can often be a cause of favoritism or online bullying, she doesn’t believe follow trains take part. She said the hashtag and its associated account, @UNTFollowTrain, are solid networking tools for students.

At just over 1,000 followers, UNTFollowTrain presents itself as a starting point for students who are not aware of what the UNT audience entails. The administrators who run the account were unavailable for comment.

Although the general consensus amongst students was positive, some found issues with the idea.

Film sophomore Preston Mitchell said he originally started using the follow train hashtag during his first semester at UNT.

“I noticed everyone was using Twitter so when I got my own [account], the follow train helped me make a lot of allies here,” Mitchell said. “The only real downside to the follow train is that your timeline can become cluttered with instigation and uncouth vocabulary, so I have to break out the unfollow button occasionally if someone becomes a repeat offender.”

Mitchell said he agrees with Bufkins, who addressed the issue of confrontation within the sphere of social media.

“The value of Twitter reflects whom individuals choose to follow,” Bufkins said. “When students realize that viable information on virtually any topic is available at their fingertips, their attitudes begin to change.”

Bufkins said when an individual’s presence becomes less about projecting self-worth and more about finding and sharing useful information, the full potential of social media is reached.

“Narcissism causes you to lose sight of the practical use of sites such as Twitter,”  Bufkins said. “It should be used as a tool of sharing information.”

Featured Image: A screen shot of @UNTFollowTrain. Photo courtesy of the group’s Twitter

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