Stuff People Seem To Like #2: Twitter

10 11 2009

Twitter is the Hot New Thing right now. Actually, no, it’s not.

There seems to be some confusion over the novelty of Twitter, and some speculation as to why middle-aged folks have flocked to it while in theory younger people are attached to Facebook. (And then there’s the folks in the middle, who dabble in both if they can muster the interest.)

Hold on to your Fail Whale T-shirts, folks, because this site is with us whether we like it or not.

I think most people are ambivalent. Twitter is like a bulletin board for mobile communication, but it has a lot of other users and people don’t really agree on what they use the site for. Different apps and habits are at play, creating a tension in the community that is both vibrant and intimidating.

I get a little bit of anxiety every time I post a tweet because it’s hard to know what’s going to happen and under what circumstances people will be reading it. At times, it can be very tempting to rattle off a random thought or go off on a rant, or to announce one’s state of inebriation. Getting a reply is almost always a relief for me because then I know that the message has been received. The low barrier to entry facilitates this kind of impulsivity. But giving two-way conversation is very difficult, and it always feels as if one is showing off when one replies to another. I admittedly prefer to respond to tweets on Facebook, where it feels  a little more personal. Separation of the Twitter Church from the Facebook State is still in effect at this time, but I may change my mind.

There’s a potential for an awkward situation when tweets cross over from Internet to real-life conversation. It’s fine to tell someone you enjoyed their tweet, but I would say real-life critical discussion of one’s online behavior is a definite no-no unless you are prepared to suffer the awkward consequences.

There are people who take this communication medium much more seriously than I, and sit for hours replying and live-tweeting their lives away. It is a use more comparable to instant messaging. Depending on the app shell you have, this will look and behave differently to you. Me, I think I would be a bit self-conscious about living this way.

I don’t know what else to say. I guess I’ll leave the leadership and official commentary to the social media gurus steering this awkward ship.

Note: I’ve engaged in a little self-editing here, as I feel that I might have come off a bit harsher than I was picturing it in my head. The irony that I posted this post on Twitter was not lost on me.

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