Yoda says, "That is why you fail!"

Why I Almost Quit Twitter

Jose 27 Comments

Yoda says, "That is why you fail!"

Yoda says, "That is why you fail!"

Confession: I almost quit Twitter.

It’s not a big deal in the grand scheme of things since the Internet is teeming with social media networks, including my prohibitive favorite, Facebook. I joined MySpace in 2003, Facebook in 2004, LinkedIn in 2007,  and Twitter in 2008. Needless to say, I’m an early adapter, and a big reason for me adapting early is simple: if I’m not early with a trend, I come in very late. It means I get to understand the environment / culture of whatever I’m in, it means I get to help set a tone, and it also means by the time the social networks have way too many people, I already have an enclave of people I depend on for good conversation and transaction.

In each of those times, minus MySpace, things started off small, and then grew incrementally. I was pleased … until I started noticing Twitter trends that annoyed the hell out of me. In order from earliest to latest:

1. The obsession with “following” and “followers” annoyed me to no end. Can we just call them subscriptions or fans? I consider myself a leader, but I don’t like being followed. At all. It’s the NY in me.

2. Celebrities on Twitter, not just because they use it as free text messaging to their other celeb friends instead of, say, interacting with fans, nor because how human it made these “legends” (I love this actually). It’s because of how it makes “normal” people react when a celebrity replies back or, for that matter, doesn’t, whether they’re A-Listers or not.

3. Twitter marketers who tell others how to grow the number of people who follow you instead of talking about how to build more meaningful conversations.

4. The people who ask me to follow them back and when I go to their page, they don’t have anything I’m interested in.

5. The sordid messes of RTs, @s, and #s, especially those who do all of that in one tweet. It hurts my eyes.

6. The spam, the spam, the spam. As a computer science major, I understand how hard spammers are to catch, but it doesn’t make it any less annoying.

7. The lack of true openness in such a purportedly open medium.

8. The personal feelings attached to when someone you know actually unfollows you or whatever have you.

9. The vacuum and redundancy of people on Twitter as a whole (nor does it help when people in my Twitstream retweet those people, thus exposing me to the madness).

10. Twitter’s time as a viable means of real dialogue seems to be slowly fading.

With such a long list, one might think I should have left long ago. Some of my friends from the beginning of Twitter don’t tweet as often for personal and professional reasons. Even the ones who do tweet now don’t tweet as often as they should. Then another bunch just ODs with the sycophancy and don’t really set trends except if it comes after a hashtag.

And that’s sad.

So why stay? Couldn’t I just add them on Facebook, e-mail them, or :: gasp :: call them?

Yes. But until I find the next social network that’s extremely easy to use, keeps me updated in the fashion that Twitter does, and puts me in touch with some great people like I’ve met on there, and readily with no pretenses, I can’t see myself leaving just yet.  Until those last 10 points weighs more than the last point I made, I’ll stay on Twitter …

Then, I’m on to the next one.

Jose, who really wants to know what you think. Am I being too harsh? Too neurotic? Thoughts?

About Jose Vilson

José Luis Vilson is a math educator, blogger, speaker, and activist. For more of my writing, buy my book This Is Not A Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education, on sale now.

Jose VilsonWhy I Almost Quit Twitter

Comments 27

  1. Mel

    You make some very valid points Jose. I think I belong to the group of tweeters who tweet out of sheer boredom… Over 18k tweets. Hmmm. I guess I get bored a lot.

    (Btw, I like the live preview . I guess it’s been a long while since I’ve commented over here.)

  2. The78MsJ

    You captured it in a nutshell I really find myself wondering why I am on twitter at all, I blog on occasion and I have a zazzle store other than promoting those two things it has become hard to connect with folks on my twitter line and now more often than not I feel like an outsider looking in. I thought the purpose of twitter was to be another community now it has become all fake and pretense and making me more jaded in the process.

  3. Shercole

    I don’t think you are being harsh whatsoever. This whole trending topic thing annoys me to the fullest, because they are usually the dumbest things folks can find. Also, I hate when people ask me to follow them!

    Im with you all the way as Twitter has grown its gets a little crazy which is why filtering your list has become so important on there.

  4. The Jaded NYer

    Let me tell you- I DID leave, and coming back was HARD AS HELL. The Evil man-hating robots that run twitter make your online life a nightmare if you try to come back with your old account so, all I have to say is, if you DO want to leave, think long & hard about it. It’s not an easy road back.

    That said, I would just delete the people that are filling your timeline with craziness. And if they get offended they will need to get a life. IT’S TWITTER, for chrissake! It’s not like you drove by their house and shot up their living room. You simply decided that what they tweet about all day is not something you want to read.

    Or maybe the TwitterBots can get something like on FB, where you can follow someone but hide their updates. That feature is a god send on FB…

  5. Yobachi

    Hey Jose,

    Your problems with twitter for the most part seem to me to be things pretty endemic to all social media.

    For instance #8. One of the social sites I used to be heavily involved in was Livejournal. You ought to see the butt hurt drama that’s gone down over the years from people being unfriended on there.

    I recently spent significant time on there for the first time in over a year, and I almost immediately see a post of one of my long time friends having unfriend another of my long time friends, and them both doing private post about it, lulz.

    It’s like with everything, they all have their good and bad. I’ve matriculated from one social network site to the next over the years: blackplanet, college club, livejournal, myspace, mybloglog, blogcatalog, facebook, twitter; same thing, new site.

    I just maintain my accounts even if I hardly go to them anymore, and use them as they benefit me; and jump on with whatever’s new if it’s of interest to me at the time.

    What do you mean by #7?

  6. Post
    Author
    Jose

    Honestly, I didn’t think this many people would reply back to this post. Let me respond to all of you in kind.

    Mel, thanks for dropping by. Sheer boredom is cool. Frankly, any usage of Twitter is cool as long as you’re open about what you’re using it for.

    The78MsJ, that’s a loaded response. I’ve had the outsider syndrome, too, but it’s really about doing your best to inject your own thoughts, because if you don’t speak up, no one will do it for you. I’m learning that slowly but surely.

    Shercole, the process of filtering one’s Twitstream has become almost a daily routine. Then, I get these major cleanup jobs like this past weekend. I cleaned out 40 or so people who I didn’t like very much. That was refreshing, but I wonder if that’ll change my stream much. I hope so.

    Marchello, long time no see!

    TheJadedNYer, you know how much I love Facebook right? Right. Lots. No matter if they may be a data-collection-miner for the CIA …

    Mike Brown? Shutting down his Twitter? Frankly, I thought I’d never see the day. Tell me more, man.

    Yobachi, all of your points here are poignant. By #7, I mean Twitter prides itself on its openness, but people have ways of closing off others who they want to ostracize by simply ignoring them, and then simultaneously ask them to follow to “participate” in the conversation. People are weird.

  7. rreimund

    I can relate to some of your points, though some of them haven’t been such an issue for me. Frankly, I’m also using it more for fun than anything. I don’t promote a blog or a store. I’m not really concerned about how many followers I have. If you’re interesting and funny, I’ll follow you and hope you’ll do the same…. If you don’t follow me… Whatever. No skin off my back. The RTs and @ and # have taken me a while to get used to..

  8. Jo

    My main issue with twitter are the folks that want to post an entire blog. Ummm isn’t that what blogs are for? Post a link to the blog but don’t post 20 msgs telling your story. Just annoying. Other than that I do agree with a lot of your points. The spam is out of control & laaaaaaawwwwd follow Friday is just annoying. I’ve started staying away from twitter on that day. I do participate sometimes but for the most part I’ve stopped. And I also agree with the Jaded NYker, if someones tweets annoy I totally unfollow. Most of the time they don’t even notice. I’m sure tons have unfollowed me.

  9. Tracy Rosen

    I haven’t been tweeting much at all lately. But I haven’t been active on my blog or some of the other social networks I belong to either, with the exception of facebook. Yesterday, or maybe the day before, I passed by twitter and checked out my @tracyrosens and saw these ridiculous ‘you’ve been recommended Mr Tweet’ messages. Mr Tweet, after checking it out, is all about building your twitter reputation. Come on! People I have never met and hardly interact with recommended me so I can only assume that in doing so it built their own popularity somehow.

    I enjoyed twitter in the summer, when I had time to follow and participate in conversations as they were happening. As a teacher I am not tied to a personal data tracker device all day. I am tied to my students. When I do check in with twitter at the end of a day I am lost in the sea of random tweets that I see. I rarely see actual conversations anymore, just random ‘go look at this’ kind of tweets.

    On Wednesday I sat with two tough grade 11 boys in the aftermath of a fight as they succumbed to their emotions and cried, and while crying looked each other in the eyes and asked what it is they do to bother the other so they don’t do it again. And afterwards they had the courage to walk into a room full of people and participate in our Thanksgiving dinner celebration, red eyes and all.

    I’m starting to have a hard time negotiating between that kind of real and the virtuality (virtualnous? virtuallike? virtual nature) of twitter that has become obsessed with, as you point out, RT @ # itis.

    Most of my active contacts on facebook are people I actually know in the flesh. That makes FB more real for me, I guess. It’s easier to negotiate a space when it is made up of people I physically have contact with and not just contacts.

    heh heh, you caught me in that prime post-coffee state once again ;)

  10. NYC Educator

    Honestly, the appeal of Twitter is completely lost on me. Why limit yourself to these teeny messages? I read them and think, “What the hell is this person talking about?” Lately, I just don’t read them at all. Snide comments are fine, but why not get in there and really explain yourself?

    I like the option.

  11. Morena's Bohio

    I’ve almost quit twitter about a dozen times. The spam, celebrities and marketers are what gets me. I’m really not impressed with the whole twitter thing. I have a bipolar sort of behavior towards it. I experience a period where I’ll post things and then I’ll just stop. I figure I have FB and Myspace and if you really need to know what’s going on you can even IM me or vice versa…..

    I’m a bit relieved you mentioned this….I thought I was the only one in the world who felt this way about twitter, seeing how it has truly taken off I had thought something was wrong with me. “Why don’t I love this??!” LOL.

  12. Angie B.

    Jose, I do not like Twitter at all. I’ve tried to get into it. But there is nothing about it I like.
    As you can tell, I love Facebook! LOL
    I’m thinking about deleting my Twitter account. I never post there. However, I’ve thought I should hold on to it if I one day wish to figure out how to make it work for me.
    Peace,
    AB

  13. msladydeborah

    I have a Twitter account. I use it about once a month. Or when specific friends are there to connect up with them. I have had some good times using Twitter.

    You raised up some very valid points about the site. I have accounts on quite a few major social networks-with a minimum number of friends on each one. I like quality v. quanitity. I have noticed that there are some people who seem to collect folks on line like they are trophies. The folks that I’m friends with on line are cool people. They do interesting things or they are people that I actually know.

  14. Damian

    Glad to hear you’re sticking around, Jose, at least for the time being. I’ve been on Twitter for over 2 years now, and honestly, I love it. I follow mostly other educators who remain at least quasi-professional online, so maybe we’re less prone as a group to some (but not all!) of the drama that seems to infest other groups. I’ve always seen it as one of those “take it or leave it” type of things – I scan it every so often for good links/convo, maybe throw something out there to spark a discussion or get some feedback on something. I usually leave it on in the background while I do other stuff, and above all, try not to take it (or myself) too seriously. Unfollow those those who annoy, block spammers, and the rest is gravy.

    Like some folks above have said, I don’t even care about followers/following; I’m beyond that. Of course I want to be connected to people, but I’m not gonna lose sleep if a handful unfollow me now and then. I’m happy to cast a pretty wide net on the offchance that something good will float by from unexpected places, even though there’s only probably a core 20-30 people I converse with regularly. The way I have become most comfortable using Twitter is like a combination of AIM (for convo) and an RSS reader, only I subscribe to educator’s minds instead of their blogs.

  15. Post
    Author
    Jose

    I guess the idea of Twitter, for some of us, is strictly fun, and if we keep it that way, we never have to pay it any mind. For me, it’s really about the networking and getting to know people outside my sphere. As important as education is, you’d think we’d be a lot more open about our communication. Not so.

    I’ve definitely noticed that some of my original friends on Twitter, some of you included, have somewhat disappeared from the craziness of Twitter. As Twitter itself grows, it tends to ween out some of the early adapters because it’s “not what it used to be.” One might think that the early adapters would stay to reap these false rewards, but not so.

    Tracy, your comment was poignant. Definitely worth an out-loud “BANG!”

    I also like the idea that the long-form of writing can’t die because there’s always that need for detail and explaining onself, NYC Educator.

    Overall, I like to think I consider my model closer to Damian’s, but then again, I don’t just have educators in my feed. That seems to make things a lot easier to work with. Hmm.

  16. missincognegro

    Jose, I, too, have a love/hate relationship with Twitter. Actually, perhaps hate is too harsh a verb. In any event, I often muse about it’s usefulness in my life, and then I am reminded of all of the wonderful professional contacts I have forged. That said, I use Facebook for my personal contacts. Which reminds me: I need to visit my FB page sometime this week.

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  19. Angela

    It IS interesting that you got so many responses. On my blog, I recently posted “Breaking up is hard to do: the story of my love affair with Twitter” and got only 2 responses. Readers of my blog NEVER respond to Twitter posts: they’re very dispassionate about the application. At any rate, I’m at the end of my Twitter rope, mostly due to the difficulty of having coherent conversations. I find Facebook threads much more meaningful and easy to follow. Interacting with fans on my FB page is so much more enjoyable than trying to figure out what people are talking about and who they’re talking to on Twitter. Being able to respond to a particular tweet, not just @ a PERSON would help tremendously.

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  21. missincognegro

    I did quit Twitter when I first joined about two years ago. At that time, Twitter was being appropriated by tech geeks. They’re are probably some of them around, but, now it seems that the tech geeks have been replaced by celebs.

    I like Twitter. But, it’s not the proverbial end-all and be-all.

  22. Tamara

    Un poquito neurótico. But nothing we all haven’t been through ourselves. ;) I agree with you in many of your points. Very valid. But I tend to be much more relaxed and don’t mind stuff as much.

    With regards to celebs… Don’t follow the usual crowd of celebrities, they’re annoying. The few I do are funny: peeps from The Office, Jimmy Fallon, Rob Thomas the musician. The rest of the peeps I do follow are mostly from PR and a few across the world that bring culture, knowledge, comedy, fun times into my life via the web.

    I started using Twitter more of a venting spot free from all Facebook friends, and specifically family. To this day, only 3 very trustful people from my real life are following me on Twitter. The rest I have denied their requests. Simply put, it’s my little place. Not that I write stuff on Twitter that I’d be ashamed to share in real life or via Facebook – ’cause I don’t censor myself in either. But it’s just a little more private me time on Twitter than on FB.

    In the last few months I have met a few Twitter “tweeps” in real life and the friendships we have recently developed have been amazing. I recently moved back to PR and my list of friends fit in one hand. These half a dozen or so ‘new friends’ have truly changed how I’ve seen my move back to PR -I wasn’t too happy about it to say the least – and have brought some “amazingness” into my life.

    I do think some people are waaaaaaaay too sensitive when it comes to the “I follow you if you follow me” drama. I don’t care if you follow me or not. It’s not about that. But if you want to, feel free, follow me. But don’t cry if I don’t follow you. I will still read you if you’re not set to private. It’s just that there’s so much I can handle on a timeline.

    I’m glad you’re not going anywhere. I do kid with you often, but it is just that, kidding, and I hope you don’t mind. You’re one of my fav posters ’cause you make me think, as a latina, as an educator (of sorts), and as a human. So keep your blog going, keep tweeting, and you best just stay around. Don’t tell me I dealt with all your Yankees live tweeting for you to DARE tell me you thought of leaving!

    ¡Mira mijo! ¡Te mato! ;o)

  23. Farah

    I happened upon your twitter name while stalking someone else’s feed (we all do it at least once), and I popped in to see what kind of blogger you are. Estoy muy impresionada, and I think I may come back a few times.

    As for twitter, I’ve tried at least a half dozen times to get “into” it, but I don’t seem to catch. I definitely took to Facebook a lot more, and I have a personal account and a fan page for my business. I like being able to to separate the two and I am fiercely private about my FB page. I only have close friends and family there, NO OUTSIDE PEOPLE. My family photos, status information, and history are too personal to share with just anyone.

    I have just recently started a new twitter page for personal posts, as I also have a business account, and I like to just have fun with it. To be honest, with Twitter I enjoy being a spectator of sorts… I enjoy watching the interactions between people, I follow a few celebrities, and see how people respond to them, I will randomely click on a user’s name to see what they are about (this is what I mean by stalking)…. I surf Twitter, just like I used to serf the internet back when Netscape was the sh*t LOL.

    I would love to continue to learn more about you, and occasionally participate in conversation, so I hope you don’t close your account any time soon.

    Mucho gusto,

    Farah

  24. Post
    Author
    Jose

    Farah, thank you for dropping by. All of the social networks I use have some sort of personal connection, and none of them can ever represent 100% me. Having said that, I like each of the pieces for the sides they represent. It’s cool that you have found a way to use all those networks, because these pieces are just that: pieces. Hope to see you around.

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