Back in June, as a result of peer pressure to “get involved”, I signed up for Twitter. I had what I thought was a decent reason; I was irritated at having to keep an eye on release schedules for various software packages and frameworks, and I hoped Twitter would solve this problem, that the entities crafting these products would tweet when new versions were released. I thought Twitter would make a good feed to check for product updates, but alas my assumption was incorrect – most tended not to accompany their latest releases with a simple “heads up” tweet. From a software developers perspective I thought this would be the most obvious use-case for Twitter, but despite the initial slap in the face I persevered with the whole thing, hoping I’d find other value in it.
Today, I have removed myself and deleted my account from Twitter. I’m bored by it and in turn baffled by its success.
I admit I did get a buzz of self-satisfaction when my follower count increased; likewise I got a knock of disappointment when my follower count dropped. You can predict who the drop-offs will be in advance; people following me in the hope that I will reciprocate, eagerly trying to inflate their own follower count. I dislike being sold at, so after a couple of weeks of not reciprocating their advances they would vanish from my follower list, chagrined that I had ignored them, off to prowl for other victims. Following people on Twitter and hoping they follow you in return cannot be considered a serious social media strategy, surely?
The sponsored tweets in my feed were an irritant, making me want to shun the suppliers for intruding on my space rather than explore their products and services further. For a second or two I would think they were legitimate retweets from someone I was following, but once I realised their true nature I scoffed and moved on, a subconscious black mark going against their names in my “Big Book of Grudges”.
I became annoyed at the conscious need to “stay on top of things”, to regularly check my feed to absorb its contents, which soon felt like yet another email account I had to manage, only this time the constant steam of messages are inane commentaries on where people are and what people are doing, with only a few morsels of satisfying protein to accompany the empty calories.
Ultimately I realised I had became part of the problem. Trying to come up with something witty or thought provoking to tweet was a chore, and I fell into step with the massed ranks of my fellow comrades spouting inanities unworthy of anyone’s attention. And ultimately that’s what it all comes down to; attention, and being desperate for it. In the real world I’m very much not and never have been, but the likes of Twitter and Facebook implant this desire in our minds, and we’ll do anything to reinforce it once the endorphins of the occasional retweet or spate of new followers kick in. It’s all about getting noticed, even if it’s just for a few fleeting minutes – Twitter’s strength is in inducing a curious compulsion to keep reminding the world that you exist.
In my eyes it is no surprise that Twitter is yet to turn a profit. I fear that the laser-targeted high concept creation they have masterfully built has foundations that are too shallow to support an effective monetisation strategy, which would need to be grafted onto it. Once the initial elation of gaining followers – or having someone famous retweet your musings – disappears then all you’re left with is a trench of sludge to wade through, consisting of 99% waffle and 1% actual interest.
I gave it a chance, but I’m not convinced. This isn’t a game I’m going to play.