In 140 characters I can only say Twitter didn’t do anything to improve my life and I can’t quite figure out what it’s uh-oh I’m out of space
You know, Blog, Neil has 1,454,412 followers and he himself follows 532 people. 2,734-to-1 may seem a very lopsided ratio, but I have NO idea how anyone could keep up with the tweets of 532 people. Even if they only tweet twice a day on average, that’s over a thousand sentences, possibly with links to more text. And I find it hard to believe Neil Gaiman has time for that. Especially with all the tweeting he does.
With apologies to the friends I have followed on Twitter, and there are only a handful, Neil is the only person I’ve found to be consistently worth following in that medium. For awhile I followed the wonderfully talented, witty and humorous Eddie Izzard, only to find that his tweets were staggeringly boring. “Landing in Heathrow. England foggy today. Hope I find a cab.” Eddie, really? This from the man who brought us “Cake or Death?”
But it’s not his fault, Blog. I know from my time using Twitter that it is very hard to be entertaining or meaningful in those 140 characters. It’s hard to communicate anything in 140 characters, much less anything of value--particularly because Twitter is not the best format for give-and-take, and that’s what makes communication worth something. (The lack of visuals is also a total bummer to me. Those TinyURLs do not tempt me like a thumbnail pic does.)
I’m not saying you can't give-and-take on Twitter, only that it’s difficult to truly converse and to wade through the content, due both to its format and its volume. It takes too much time to monitor. Maybe you simply have to have a different sort of brain than mine, but skimming through tweets looking for value was just such a time sink to me.
Well, Blog, I am convinced this is the main thing Twitter has going for it. Everyone hawking a product or service (and I did it too) thinks, why not go on Twitter? it’s free publicity! Everyone who wants to see if they can attract “fans” (I get that too, believe me), thinks Twitter could be the answer.
So, in an environment like this, where sheer exposure is the draw, what you inevitably get is a lot of people hoping to, in effect, outshout each other. And because everyone is trying for that, no one is listening. That’s an exaggeration and there are certainly notable exceptions, but you get the idea, Blog. Neil Gaiman is talking to 1,454,412 people, and listening to 532. Most people are [at least attempting to] talk to way more people than they are interested in listening to. Commercial entities who tweet for promotional reasons will say they want feedback, but mostly they want you to listen and buy.
So you have people constantly following other people merely for the purpose of hoping they’ll be followed back. (Are you following me here? Ha! Sorry.) I know that folks who followed me on Twitter were 20-to-1 people who had no logical reason to have an interest in me, so that’s the origin of my suspicion.
These people have no intention of reading your tweets. And because their Twitter feed is littered with tweets of people they have no interest in reading about, I suspect they are pretty much ignoring their feed.
In fact, that’s the picture I get of Twitter, Blog. I feel like the great majority of users pretty much ignore their feeds. Which means most of the activity on Twitter is falling on deaf eyes. That’s just based on my experience, of course, but I can’t help but feel it’s the logical conclusion.
I know that sometimes this medium has truly been used for valid and important purposes. Attempted suicides and totalitarian governments have been thwarted, and the like. I think that’s marvelous.
But in my role as marketing babe, I just laugh at all the hype about Twitter. A lot of people are making money on Twitter seminars and guidebooks that take advantage of people’s passion for free publicity. The bigger Twitter gets, the more it turns into a worldwide wall of noise. Will it just keep growing, a virtual Tower of Babble? I wonder, because I have to think eventually many people will just drop out, like I did.
I still have a Twitter page, Blog--mostly because occasionally I like to peek in and see if the feed is just as lame as the last time I looked. But I realized if the only time I was tweeting was when I wanted to promote my books, a new interview, review or blog post, and I was ignoring everything being said to me by those I followed. I was doing my part to make the thing as self-absorbed and egotistical as I fear it is. Well, now I’ve stopped posting.
This is not meant as a plea to abolish Twitter. You know I’m not that way, Blog. It’s just that usually I can make sense out of things that don’t float my personal boat. And it just seems to me like serious and “valid” users of Twitter have to be drowning in an ocean of what is, for all intents and purposes, spam. 140 character chunks of spam. I don’t know how they do it.
So comment away, Twitter fans! Let the little blue bird have his say too!