I’m growing tired of Twitter

April 5th, 2009 by Laura Leave a reply »

It took me a while to get Twitter. And then I loved it. I really loved it. I followed so called power users. I watched other people’s Twitter grades and ranks with fascination. Then decided to experiment with Twitter. And through experimentation, I learned a lot about twitter.

I’ve also discovered that I’m tired of Twitter. I’m tired of people talking about the number of followers they have. I’m tired of services like Twitter Grader and Twitterholic. I’m tired of people talking up those numbers, and numbers like how many times you’ve been retweeted, and that your value on Twitter and the interest in following you is dependent upon that. None of this matters. Relationships matter. I’ve yet to see some one explain why having 3000 followers where you engage with 0.01% of your followers, post links and retweets gives value back. I’m tired of being what amounts to a recipient of tweet spam even as I engage in it myself because I want to appear in Twitter’s search engine, get more traffic and have a high rank on Twitter’s services because Social Media people think it gives value and I want to believe they know better than me.

I’m tired of always being on with Twitter. Social media is a performance art. You’re always out there, always selling yourself. If you forget that you don’t have personal relationships with the people that you’re interacting with, you might regret it. If you want to use Twitter to get traffic to your site, attract angel investors, catch the eyes of VC people, try to get a consulting gig, you can’t go off the reservation and babble about how you’re tired, cranky, depressed, broke, dealing with family issues. Your audience doesn’t have the relationship with you to stick with you for that and you look unprofessional. You get more leeway with a personal blog, a LiveJournal account, a FaceBook account. Twitter just is always on and if you’re an introvert, this can be hard to maintain. It is tiring. I’m tired of performing and worrying about my performance being off.

I’m tired of the idea that Twitter improves relationships and develops relationships. I’ve made a few good connections on Twitter. The ones I probably am most glad of are the ones with kaplak and wikihowl. They are ones I probably would not have made otherwise. But most people on Twitter are people I follow in other spaces like LiveJournal, LinkedIn, FaceBook, mailing lists, on their blogs and IRC, who I keep up with via phone calls, at BarCamps, via e-mail and IM services, through private messages on FaceBook. The relationships that I’ve developed on Twitter don’t always feel that deep and when my friends and acquaintances on other services use those services less and use Twitter more, my interest and ability to connect becomes harder because of space constraints and the noise level between their content. I really wish Twitter did what the implication was that it did. I really wish that I could go back to Twitter about 9 months ago. I really wish that as Twitter exists now, that I felt like I was getting more out of my relationships that use Twitter to facilitate them. They don’t. I’m tired of trying to make the effort while feeling like I should be getting something out of it. I’m tired of people following me for no apparent reason who never communicate with me. I’m tired of the idea that I should be getting more connected with people as I feel even less connected.

I’m tired of the hype. Biz Stone said on The Colbert Report that Twitter answered a need you didn’t know you had. That doesn’t necessarily say “Twitter is great and serves a useful need” so much as “Twitter was marketed brilliantly.” CNN talks about Twitter. FaceBook changed to look more like Twitter. News people talk about how Twitter will change how news is reported. Newspapers print Tweets. Twitter will change the world! Celebrities tweet from everywhere. Entertainment Tonight covers people who are tweeting while they are being interviewed. I get it. This is like MySpace about 2 years ago. (And we know where MySpace is going.) I kind of just want to be left alone in a world where I can use it with out everyone and their neighbor going on about how great it is. If we could get back to reporting the news instead of reporting on how people are sharing their news, I might be less tired.

I’m kind of hoping this is a phase and that I will feel better about it later. I really do like Twitter but certain parts of it are just tiring.

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  • WingedSerpent

    This is why I'm not on Twitter. I avoid it like the plague.

    All of my relationships online are of two kinds: ones I made in person and keep up via Livejournal and Facebook, as well as phone calls and e-mails, and on occasion, AIM; and the ones that I've made on LiveJournal and various forums (because when you make friends with people on forums/message boards, it means that you at least have the forum topic in common as an interest). The point is that these things - Facebook, LiveJournal, MySpace, etc. are ways to connect and share, usually with pre-existing friends/acquaintances. I'm not sure if Twitter is really like that, and it's a bit unnerving.

    I miss the days when I could talk to my friends via AIM. Sure, it wasn't all that personal, but it was at least in real time and candid.

  • GotDebt

    Bingo. Tired, so tired of Twitter. And you're right about MySpace too. I haven't logged into my account there this year. I have quit following so many blogs too. I have stopped following and posting on so many forums. I cannot even remember how many web sites I am registered on. Too much technology. Overwhelming.

  • Thanks for the mention there, Laura, we are glad to have met you too. That's a very well thought out post that highlights not just the big negatives but the big positives too. You've evangalised Twitter before and we bet those reasons haven't really gone away, it's just the hype and the noise that makes it hard to concentrate. If you can ride above the now standard social media evils of spam and blatant marketing (visit www.wikihowl.com) then there are good experiences to be had. They may be from within the clique you have chosen to interact with or the single follower who you thought might be interesting and now has you listening to their fascinating interaction with their own clique. So, have a break, come back refreshed and just smile in a knowing way when the next 'get me to 2000 folllowers' is tweeted.

  • Great post, which I can totally relate to, and it goes for most online social networks. I would say it is possible to use these tools to create and sustain meaningful relations, although like you it is probably no more than a handfull or at most few handfulls which have come out of my use of Twitter. I haven't calculated it very rationally in terms of how many hours I've put into it, and if I did it probably would not look encouraging. But I don't look at it in those terms. I see it more like a big learning experiment which helps me dress myself and others up for whats coming - and what will be _more_ the real thing. More peer-to-peer driven, more sharing, more caring and much more powerful (as in the Wikipedia meaning of the word). More so than say Twitter, Facebook, even Google, which are all young wild proprietary experiments trapped in the "old" economy.

  • I see it more like a big learning experiment which helps me dress myself and others up for whats coming

    That I can relate to. I feel like I've kind of mastered Twitter. I get how the whole game is played. I understand FaceBook. I don't know if I know it well enough in order to help say a business utilize to try to drive customers to a product though there are situations where I feel like I could do something like that well. I play with a lot of things in order to learn them. Some of them I like learning more about. Some of them I don't feel like I know well enough but as they aren't populated by communities I'm interested in? It doesn't seem like that big of a deal. (bebo and orkut come to mind. Xanga is probably the one that I feel the worst not knowing about. I just can't get into it.)

    But the commitment to staying with something can be... yeah. :/

  • Definitely :-)

    What continues to impress me is the power of trackbacks. Hardly did I write this before a trackback appeared below to my "more in depth" post. I think what made your post here great is that it is so much you :-) So much so, that it inspired me to write a post of my own about it. (couldn't comment hijack my way out of it)

  • sidewinder_FH

    I've avoided the whole Twitter thing because to me it's just an extension of the no-attention-span ADHD world. I suppose at some point I should try it just to see if it would have ANY use to me for my businesses, but beyond that...I'd rather have real conversations with my friends and people I'm interested in. All this one-liner stuff doesn't really do it for me, and I don't need to know every mundane issue of everyone's lives, certainly not all as it's happening (heck, people still complain about LiveJournal--some fans are still like "I only want to read fannish content! I hate it when an author I like posts about their real life in their journal too!"

    It's sort of like...important content and serious matters all get lost in a sea of inanity and the mundane. A tweet from someone complaining about missing the morning bus to work gets the same weight as a breaking international news story. I just...it's one of those things that really sort of has no interest to me, and I'm sure once the hype fades perhaps it will settle into more actual usefulness for those people who have an actual need/use for it, whereas all the random people just talking about what they ate for lunch will fade away...

  • I think once the hype dies down, you'll be left with a lot of spam content. :/

    I don't mind certain things being weighted equally because at this point? I'd rather listen to some one complain about missing the bus than I would about AIG going bankrupt. The big national news stories are just stressful and depressing and I can only absorb so much of it.

    The issue then becomes who to follow, why to follow, how to maintain relationships on it, etc. if you can tolerate that... and really? Doesn't feel like you can do that particularly well.

  • sidewinder_FH

    Yeah, could end up just being a lot of spam - as happened with yahoogroups and newsgroups :(

    I basically don't watch very much tv or listen to the news these days. I pretty much just put on my music (and sports radio, when I want some fanwanking that I find amusing/interesting but have zero interest in getting involved in.)

  • So much wanking in fandom these days. :/ It just is... yeah. :( Sports is a great place to kind of fan wank with people because, for the most part, it feels less likely to blow up in a hurtful way. I also don't want to fic it. I'm in it because I want to be part of a community that thousands and thousands of others are part of.

    Twitter just sets itself up for spam and the system encourages it. The major people involve encourage it. ReTweets feel like spam. I read it the first time. If I wanted to follow that person, I would have done that. If it is serious news, I totally get it... but dudes, some people just ReTweet and ReTweet famous people. :/

    Sort of back to the topic, so much of social media I find tiring. I get the system. I love the system... but at times, I need to pull back from the game.

  • Nice post, Laura. I do not understand any of the Twitter "services": if I'm thinking that hard about Twitter, then I really better be either a. working for it; b. getting massive work from it; or c. someone else. "Social media value" is like the value of collectibles: it's only worth something to someone else willing to buy into it. In and of itself, it's worth zilch.

    If you've got wares to sell, then I can understand the need to "use" it, but I figure that Twitter is 1 part conversation, 1 part information, and about 9 parts solipsism. But then, despite the different focuses, the other social media sites seem to have pretty similar ratios as well. You're at the mercy of how others are using the system.

    With Twitter and all the rest, I'm pretty much of the "I'll take it now and then, but I got no problem leaving it" crowd. My husband gets a lot of information from Twitter and has gotten to know some folks he probably would not have had the chance to otherwise -- so for him it's good. For me, I've made a few useful contacts, but I mostly see it as a place for witty one-liners. I just don't have the interest to invest much time and energy into it.

  • I get a lot of the Twitter services to a certain degree. Some applications are like LiveJournal's filters so if you follow 2,000 people, you can watch a few people. If you are there to monitor for reputation monitoring reasons, you can easily do that. If you want to be able to explain ROI in terms of the time you spent, some of those tools can be useful.

    My fatigue might come from the place that I feel like I NEED to use Twitter to promote Fan History. The Social Media People (tm) repeatedly talk it up as something worth the time to use. It almost feels like an obligation to use as a result. I can get FanHistory to rank high on Twitterholic. (News media frequently talks up how many followers famous people have. Jason from Mahalo also talks up that number and how he wants more followers.) I just can't be bothered for the interaction because it is hard to provide quality "content" and I'm not certain of the value of getting your things retweeted. (I had something retweeted by some one with 10,000 followers with a link in the retweet. I got 20 visits.) I'm just... yeah. The focus on Twitter metrics means less ability to do things like SEO, relationship development, content building, etc. And that seems like it could be partially bad for a business of the sorts I'm involved with. :/

    I get some information on Twitter but I took an 8 day break from it and I didn't miss it much. :/

  • beth

    hey if it weren't for twitter, i wouldn't have read this and I really like it! I think we have to use twitter as a way to connect with interesting people around the world, not as a marketing tool. It feels like junk mail to me. Thanks for this post, pretty cool.

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