9.13.2012

Twitter is Dead, For Me at Least

Twitter is a complete ego-satisfying waste of otherwise usable hours. Following movie stars and celebrities? So? You can sign up for email updates on their websites without the benefit of seeing their misspellings and half naked, being made up for the red carpet dribble.

My first ever Twitter account was in summer of 2008. Which I immediately proceeded to cancel. Then I thought it over, felt I had made a mistake, so then started another account in the fall of 2008. I didn't really begin using it in earnest until 2009.

I started following people who shared interesting articles and links. Mostly were social science related. It's a little cliched, perhaps, but I have considered each of my initiations into a new social media channel mostly a PR/social science experiment.

I think the love affair was officially over a while back, though. The dead body only rose to the surface over the last month.

I was never good at developing a brand, acting like a pompous guru, and continuously posting only about a particular topic. I leave that for people who need to act in order to have a personality--a.k.a., who need an audience to feel alive. Although all the major articles and guides suggest you to focus on a particular topic, to be viewed as an "expert," I found that the best use of my Twitter account was for personal use. I shared info on a variety of topics to reflect my varied interests.

I'm sure most folks couldn't have cared less what I wrote, since a lot of people who followed me were bots or just people trying to follow and un-follow as many times as possible to go up in the ratings. Whatever ratings those are. I often mused: I wish losing pounds was as easy as losing all these bots. Sometimes a dozen or so bots would fall off my follower list. I would exhale peacefully as if a heavy burden had been lifted from my shoulders.

Which brings me to another thing. Ratings, gurus, and metrics. What are ratings on Twitter really worth? You have a Twittemperature, a Klout rank, and? And? Really? I find that if I focus too much on metrics and tools, I lose the fun and the organic flow of something. I find that some of the best interactions or articles I found/experienced on Twitter had absolutely nothing to do with ego, rankings, or metrics. It was just a human reaching out to another human across Wi-Fi, routers, and fiber-optics. Reach out and touch someone, as the old AT&T/Bell commercial used to say.

I also found the seedier side to Twitter. Of course, all social media channels have a seedy side. The people who act like they love you and are your best friends, just so they can get visibility and increase their numbers of followers. Authors are like that. Marketers are like that. Consultants are like that. Well, the list goes on.

Some attention-getters are a little more obvious than others. Usually, I gave people too much of the benefit of the doubt. There's the stalker type people, who prey on other's good will and naivete. Those who have a morbid interest in every little stupid thing you type and post. Then they get critical or provide smart-ass comments. They obviously have passive-aggressive issues to deal with. Now, if you get one of these types, who also happens to belong to your organization or work with you and/or your company, you get rights to an extra drink on Friday evenings. Sheesh.

What about those who re-tweet every single thing you type? That's incredibly creepy. They probably need to diversify who they follow to a healthier extent, so they can retweet more people than just a couple. Tweeting one person's Tweets over, and over, and over can't make for a very interesting stream. Sheesh, again.

One of the types of people I never understood were some people I have worked with or currently work with, who wanted to follow and pursue a conversation on social media. It drives me crazy. Ever heard of boundaries? Social media is meant for a more personality driven, casual interaction. Why would you want to shoot the breeze with someone with whom you need to continue a particular work-related diplomatic dance with. Are they spying and reporting? Are they trying to control your freedom of speech? I get paranoid with stuff like that. When I get anxious I don't organically flow. Doods, you're impeding my mojo, ya know? Back off.

Mostly, though, I found a lot of fun people to talk to, and sometimes, even friends from ages ago with whom I connected on Facebook as well. I loved to retweet, and to just follow some accounts because they always gave me a good laugh. There may still be people I may want to go and read up just for a grin and giggle. Then again, going cold turkey is the only way to go for me.

I mostly used Twitter to stay abreast of news and happenings all over the world. I found out from TMZ that Michael Jackson had died as soon as that tweet entered my stream.

But, there's other ways to get the same information. There's RSS feeds out there, website e-newsletters, and more to help me meet the same end without the wasted hours. It's a capital time suck.

Most of all, I'm tired of having to stop while I'm enjoying an experience in the real, 3D world just to go post something because someone out there would probably enjoy it, get a chuckle, or think it's witty--a photo, a tweet, an article, etc--"really quick" to Twitter. I prefer to live in the now without so much fuss and distractions. Besides, I've never been much of a people-pleaser in real life, and I didn't like what Twitter was turning me into.

My new motto is focus more, suffer less. We'll see how far I get.

PS - I also deleted my entire Flickr account, with all sorts of historical photos which are now lost to eternity. I also deleted my Foursquare account, because if that's not a perfect example of real-life interruption, I don't know what is.