Saturday 20 April 2013

Me and Twitter - It's Complicated

I'm starting to wonder whether Twitter and I have a future. I mean, I love Twitter - no problem there - and I think it likes me. But, just recently, things have become strained between us. We have some compatibility issues.

I was kind of a social media virgin when we met. Okay, yes, I flirted with MySpace but I wasn't in a band so we never got past first base. Bebo seemed nice but maybe a little too young for me. At the other end of the scale, Friends Reunited simply reminded me of how old I was. People said to me that maybe Facebook and I would hit it off. But Facebook was way too brash and it asked too many questions and almost everyone had been there before me (and it seems to have a serious problem with drink). So I said a polite 'no' and kept myself to myself.

But then Twitter came along. It was smart and uncomplicated. It spoke to me succinctly. Twitter asked nothing of me, not even my name and photograph. It accepted me for who I was. I chatted a lot with Twitter and the conversations were fascinating, witty, important, and sometimes hilarious. Twitter introduced me to a whole bunch of people I wouldn't have met before, some of which are now close friends.

But then Twitter changed. Or maybe it was me? I don't know for sure. Where once there had been intelligent debate, there was now raging anger and polemic. Where once there had been humorous deconstruction of celebrity, suddenly there was bitching and pure bloody hatred. Where once we could all get together and have fun, now ... well, the spark had kind of gone.

Maybe we can work things out. I hope so. As I say, I love Twitter and it's been good for me. But there can't be any future for us if I no longer enjoy our time together. When the fun has been sucked out of a relationship, is it really worth fighting to keep it staggering on? Should I give it one more go or should we have a hug and go our separate ways?

It's complicated.


  1. I can certainly relate. The last time I deactivated my Twitter was for the same reason. Nothing but negativity. I just recently reactivated it after being off for about a year, and I think it's worse than when I left. But on a happier note, there's always blogging, and the interaction that goes with it. Google Plus has been good to me. And you still can't beat good old fashioned human interaction. Keep em laughing.

  2. Julian Williams22 April 2013 at 01:11

    I’m having a similar battle. So I recently started a new twitter account and followed only those I really want to follow for information, links, worldliness and insight. And followed only those I most respect socially, of which many have thankfully followed back.

    The result is that my timeline is all the slimmer and trimmer for it. I can actually read individual tweets and follow their links without stress. And I’ve still got some day left. I’ve also become less insane about followers, following and unfollowers than I’ve ever been.
    The whole new account concept is an experiment where everyone is welcome to follow. But I’ll only follow back those I want to.

    And this is where I waver.

    Maybe I should have been tougher and just done some unfollowing from my original account? I’m beginning to think this would have been the better way ahead – but I guess I’m not that rational or tough.

    Can’t help thinking though, I invested a hell of a lot of time and energy into @OnewordTF.

  3. Burton, Julian

    It is a quandary for me. On the one hand, Twitter has been good to me; it's helped my public profile, was a major factor in getting my latest book funded and published, and I've met people (yourselves included) that I probably wouldn't have met otherwise. On the flip side, it's become so nasty of late that I find myself not wanting to log in.

    I've been on Twitter for a few years and, when it started, it was all about the global conversation. It was chatty, friendly, funny. It also meant that you could chat to people you admired - in real time - in a way that hadn't been possible before. However, the trolls soon realised this too and people like Doctor Who show-runner Steven Moffat and comedians like Phill Jupitus have left Twitter as the result.

    Twitter has always been a place for polemic and that's a good thing. But all of the political debate has simply turned to hatred - many of the comments regarding Margaret Thatcher's death were genuinely horrific. I had no love for the woman but I don't want to hang about with people who can be that insensitive and nasty; the very things they hated Mrs T for.

    Having put a lot of effort into my Twitter account I'm loathe to lose it. I think I'll have a cull - stop following quite so many people and see if that makes a difference. I'll unfollow anyone who doesn't talk to me on a regular basis. At least then my Twitter stream will be people who, I know, have similar views to me. If I lose followers as the result, tough titty. This isn't Facebook and it ain't a popularity contest. I genuinely have no idea how many followers I have right now.

    What I'll be left with, I hope, is Twitter as I want it to be. If that doesn't work - we're done.

  4. I was just going to suggest a cull to freshen the place up! As someone who has been painfully shy in the distant past- and found it hard to express themselves in more recent times - twitter had a good effect on improving my ability (and will) to chat to people. # game's (many of which I found through you) and the 'good people' with kind words and honest things to share about themselves make it all worthwhile. I think it has perhaps become a victim of it's own success- by no longer being just a select slice of the world- and it now seems to be more of a true melting pot of all the hateful and honourable in the same place.

    I've been sad to have lost real life friends because of twitter, I've also had more encouragement and support than from my own family at times. I've argued, ignored, blocked ,questioned and stayed silent since joining and I think the best thing I ever did was to un-follow people. Even if I like them as people, their feeds are sometimes not right for me. Too whiny or too full of themselves. Reactionary, or only sharing depressing things.

    I try to follow people who are using twitter for similar things to me- to share their / other peoples work, and who share interesting, fun things. I would be a bit disappointed to lose you as a follower but I would understand, and I'll still stick around! You give a lot to the place, so you have got to make sure you can get some of that back.

  5. Twitter can become a lot less complicated when you factor in that a giant amount of people who infest the internet have a lot of their own mental issues. On any given day you'll meet passive aggressive people who think nothing of slamming anything you believe in or respect, just because they have no other place for their voice.

    You'll get people who unfollow you for the most banal reasons and then blow up in your face if you dare unfollow them back. These people are everywhere. Twitter and its social brethren just make those people easier to find than you having to run in to them in person down the local pie shoppe.

    Culling is possibly the best way to shed this discomfort. If you don't surround yourself with the people that make you happy, amuse you, challenge you..then there doesn't seem to be a point in being on a social network in the first place.

  6. For what it's worth (and my opinion isn't worth much) I think you should persevere with Twitter.

    If you were to break off your relationship, then Twitter will have lost one more decent rational contributor.

    I guess I'm just suggesting that you shouldn't allow the 'trolls' (where does that word originate?) to spoil things for everyone else.

  7. I'd say (partly for sefish reasons, I admit) don't go!

    It's a good few thousand years since writing was invented, and the first poison pen (or poison stylus) letter probably followed shortly thereafter. But you wouldn't stop writing letters on the strength of other people's vituperative missives. Nor would you chuck your mobile in the bin because some phone users make abusive calls. I know this sounds dreadfully simplistic, but what I'm trying to say is...don't let the abusive, aggressive and, let's face it, downright nasty Twitter users chase you away. Trim your follow list. Only follow people whom you know in the real world, those whom you admire, and those who have common interests. Avoid those who constantly retweet and clog up your timeline, those who are unnecessarily rude or confrontational, or who bang on about their politics, assuming that the rest of us have the teeniest interest in what they think.

    But please don't unfollow me. Or I'll send the boys round.