By Katie Lannan
Twitter has many purposes: It helps you keep up with news that matters to you (whether that's the European debt crisis or the Kardashians' social life), lets you communicate with friends (or people you wish you were your friends), and provides joke fodder for people who don't really understand it but think "Twitter" is a funny word ("Am I Twittering? Twitt-ing? Does that make me a twit?").
The social tool is also a great way to connect with your community, local news outlets, colleges, retailers, and the occasional Twitter celebrity with a burrito fixation. But beyond those big names, there are some under-the-radar accounts that can be just as informative or funny, if not more so. Here's a few of the best, by category.
@alertnewengland: If you're really dedicated to staying safe, you probably already spend the majority of the day listening to a police scanner. If you're reasonably dedicated to staying safe but also enjoy doing other things, you can rely on someone named Steve somewhere in eastern Massachusetts to listen to the scanner for you. This handle contains his real-time updates on police, fire, military, and EMS action throughout the commonwealth.
RUNNER UP: @rephenriquez: State Rep. Carlos Henriquez often tweets about happenings in his 5th Suffolk District and the Massachusetts Legislature, but sometimes he also tweets Nas lyrics. And that's awesome. You probably shouldn't decide who to vote for based solely on their musical taste, but it's a perfectly legitimate reason for deciding who to follow.
@bostontweetup: One of the most fun things about the Internet is that you can hide behind the anonymity of your username when announcing how stoked you are for the next Justin Bieber album or broadcasting catty comments about your least favorite Real Housewife's new haircut. It's easy to forget there are real people behind your favorite online presences, but this aggregator of local meetups for like-minded Twitter users can help you bring friendships off-screen and into reality. (Just remember: Actually following someone IRL is creepy, not flattering.)
RUNNER UP: @uniteboston: While most accounts focus on a specific neighborhood, venue, or type of event, UNITE Boston subscribes to the theory that broader is better and thus lists everything from a gourmet charity dinner in Brookline to a Roxbury town hall meeting on sentencing reform. Retweets dwarf original posts here, but it's much more direct than following every single person to ever tweet about something cool going on this weekend.
@ochocinco: With the Pats headed to Super Bowl XLVI, fans will likely want to keep posted on the daily activities of their favorite New England Patriot (or, theoretically, their favorite New York Giant, but if you have one of those, it's a good idea to question if Boston is really where you want to be living). Wide receiver Chad Ochocinco is a good person to follow even if you watch the Super Bowl just for the commercials; whether he's genuinely inquiring about how to buy a player piano, chatting with Mexican President Felipe Calderon, or declaring his love for IHOP, this guy is the Bostonian equivalent of @kanyewest (i.e., unmatchable in terms of sheer ridiculousness).
RUNNER UP: @deionbranch84: Not recommended for following by the casual Twitter user, Ochocinco's teammate Deion Branch often tweets more than 20 times a day -- most often to engage with his fans and "Twitter fam." Replying to one of Branch's posts is probably the quickest way to score that coveted celebrity retweet or @ reply.
@sleepovershows: Remember when MTV played music videos? Sleepover Shows is better than that. The Boston-based blog films special acoustic performances by bands passing through the city on tour. After recording impressive sessions in unlikely places -- Peter Wolf Crier in a dark parking lot, Lydia Loveless inside a statue at MIT -- site creators Kelly Ribera, Rob Ribera, and Aviv Rubinstien send the links straight to your Twitter feed.
RUNNER UP: @armyoftoys: Local band Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys is described in its Twitter bio as "a musically sophisticated Dada-esque steamcrunk carnival of just plain good 'not-always-so-clean' fun." If you understand what that means...well, you're almost definitely lying. If you don't understand it, following the group is the best way to figure it out. Or to get more confused.
@james_bulger: Notorious crime boss Whitey Bulger's incarceration brought an end to the classic Bostonian travel game, "Spot Whitey In Hiding" (SWIH Rules: See that old, Irish-looking guy in the Red Sox cap and sunglasses? That's him! Another one? Also him!), but you can now follow the inner thoughts of "James Bulger" from within his jail cell. Spoiler alert: He's not too pleased about being captured.
RUNNER UP: @allstonrats: Though some other area animal accounts have fallen silent, the Allston rats are still going -- a testament to the tenacity of the species (or at least to the grime of the neighborhood, which provides them with an ideal habitat).
A little too lazy to click all those "Follow" buttons? Subscribe to the whole list here. And share your must-follow Boston tweeters in the comments!
About Katie -- Currently a Brookline resident and BU senior, I grew up in New Hampshire, meaning I get confused when charged sales tax and can discuss at length the differences between multiple varieties of apples. At any given moment, I likely have my iPhone in my hand and at least one newspaper in my purse. I'm a political junkie, as well as an iced coffee addict. My interests include journalism, canvas sneakers, and pretending I'm in Ireland.
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