For the last couple weeks, it seems like you can’t open an ear without hearing “Twitter” or “Tweet” or some variation on “follow.” Celebrities (or at least their social-media assistants) are competing to get the most followers. Newscasters tell me to “follow” them on Twitter for news updates. Blog posts tumble forth by the thousands to instruct me on how to improve my life and business through Twittering.
Really, I think social media is a wonderful thing. I started blogging in about 2004, picked up an addiction to Facebook ’round about this time in 2007, and got the Yelping bug in 2008. I love all the sharing of opinions, keeping in touch with people, and messaging. But Twitter, from the moment I heard of it, I thought, what is the point of this? An endless stream of “this is what I’m doing” broadcast to the world. Sort of like Facebook, if Facebook were made up only of status updates.
And all the hype about Twitter just makes it seem like this year’s Facebook. I have decided that it would be just one more thing to check, check, check, and check again. So I am officially holding out on Twitter.
I think it helps to be popular in the social media scene when you are naturally positive, or failing that, a celebrity already, like Ashton “1 million followers!” Kutcher. Me, I’m sort of grumpy, a frustrated optimist. I think my friends – all of whom on Facebook are people I’ve known in the real world – know that I’m crusty-yet-lovable. Opinionated, but kind.
And I have a tendency to rant, which in person is softened with a smile or (evil) laugh. Online ranting must be carefully balanced with humour, lest I seem like a crank. I just don’t think my brand of snarkiness would do well within the earnest networking culture of Twitter, so I’m not going to try. I will, however, try not to alarm the neighbours with shrill screams when that site is mentioned – again, and again, and again. And again and again.
After being on Twitter for a few months, I deleted my account. Despite a bunch of followers, it was pointless. Barely anyone responded to my tweets, there were no real conversations, and most of my “real” friends did not even join in the first place. Furthermore, what seemed popular on Twitter were tweets about technology or social media…maybe other people are interested in that. Or boring hockey stuff.
I found the same thing about the Northern Voice conference, actually. People seemed to be so busy patting themselves on the back for their tech knowledge and insider status as bloggers/social media mavens that they never seemed to be interested in real conversation, anyway.
also, sarcasm never seems to go over well in the “statusphere” and that’s almost my default mode.
I don’t agree – I actually was a non-believer in Twitter until I went to Northern Voice, and someone described it as a conversation. I now use it to chat with my coworkers, people that i’ve only met through email, and friends. I also find it really helpful for picking up new stories when I don’t have time to seek out magazines and newspapers (not to put a stake in your publisher/writers’ heart – I think it actually leads me to better sources of reading in print). I’m over Facebook, but Twitter works for me.
Did you two go to Northern Voice this year? I was there, but didn’t see you two – perhaps it was better this year than in the past. Maybe it’s just me but when I compare it to stuff design and educational conferences, I find people there really friendly. There are always people who pat themselves on the back – but maybe they aren’t the ones worth chatting with. 🙂
Despite what you use – blogs, Facebook, Twitter – this internet world is a good way to keep a sense of community. It’s funny, I read your blogs from time to time, and I think I’ve convinced myself that I’ve seen you recently – not that I haven’t run into you two in years!
A recent Harvard study (does this sound like a commercial or what?) pointed out that Twitter is more like “a one-way, one-to-many publishing service more than a two-way, peer-to-peer communication network.” The BBC article also points out that Twitter users are a bit more prone to following male tweeters (or whatever they’re called) than female ones.
Anyhow, what my Twitter experience spelled out for me is that it was a popularity contest and it nailed in the fact that I am unpopular. Few people followed me and no one responded to my tweets. I find I am lonely and depressed in real life. Why would I want to compound those feelings by hanging out in Twitterland any longer?
On the other hand, I get a lot of comments on Facebook, I have been able to reconnect with old friends, and, as Facebook becomes more bloggy, my non-computery friends become more bloggy too, so I know more about them, things I couldn’t find out by just talking to them (i.e. they would never hand me a quiz on obscure aspects of their lives in real life).
Leanne, I find bloggers pretty friendly too, but my schedule prevents me from ever going to Northern Voice. I probably won’t be able to ever go again unless I get a new job.
ITA about the way these sites can create community – it’s just that you can only follow so many communities.
Also in agreement about the popularity contest aspect… the most popular people on Twitter are the ones who’ve made their fame in some other way, anyway.
I don’t know if I would go to Northern Voice again. It just didn’t seem like my crowd and all those people fondling their laptops, instead of connecting with other human beings in the room, just made me feel sad.
BTW Leanne – can’t wait to get my hands on your book 🙂