Twitter’s Pros and Cons: Bob, On Seriously Hating All That Twitter Stands For | iLounge Backstage

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Twitter’s Pros and Cons: Bob, On Seriously Hating All That Twitter Stands For

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By Bob Levens

Contributing Editor
Published: Wednesday, December 9, 2009
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To paraphrase the song “War” by Edwin Starr:

“Twitter, huh, yeah
What is it good for
Absolutely nothing
Uh-huh
Twitter, huh, yeah
What is it good for
Absolutely nothing
Retweet it, y’all”

I have railed against Twitter for some time now—much to the amusement of one or two colleagues, I’ll add—and since iLounge has decided to embrace this medium, I am going to take a moment to explain why you won’t be reading any tweets from me in our new iLounge editors’ feed.

I loathe Twitter and all that it has come to represent. The world does not need an aggregator of every few minutes of a person’s life in 140 characters, starting from when he wakes up in the morning, to a banal list of his habits and haunts—shopping lists to Starbucks and so on—to toilet tweet updates, all concluding with the predictable, moronic “Goodnight tweeple, sweet dreams, blah blah blah.” From my perspective, the only thing more awful than such updates is that some of this junk attracts thousands of “followers,” who then also share their every movement with thousands of followers, and so on. Is anyone actually reading all this, or is it just a bunch of junk being “followed” by people for the sake of aggregating invisible friends? No matter; hard-core Twitter users seem to relish this cyber scalp hunting and useless milestoning: “Twen thousandth tweet coming up, welcome to my twenty-thousandth follower!” That’ll be 10,000 short sentences of banality you have shared with 20,000 SEO accounts, and do any of them really give a damn what you’re typing? No! Facebook is for people who have friends; Twitter is for people who don’t but still have the ego to think that people care what they say.

Don’t get me started on the lexicon that has grown exponentially with the popularity of Twitter—it is making me want to throw my iPhone, laptop and Internet connection into the nearest bin. “Attwicted,” “Tweeple,” and “Tweetup” are just a small example—for god’s sake, most of you people are adults, can’t you realize you sound like 3-year-olds? The fact that some sad Twit has sat down and compiled a whole dictionary is even worse. Suddenly the dumbed down human race portrayed in the film Idiocracy seems to be here and now, communicated in 140-character jumbles. And now books are appearing on store shelves to help you understand Twitter! What is there to understand? It would be amazing to me if some of the people on Twitter even had the ability to read something as complicated as a book, especially one where the pages have more than 30 words each and need to be considered in sequence.

But struggle against the tide as I might, more and more established media are now urging viewers to “follow us at @XXXXX” because they think it is the trendy thing to be saying and doing. People I respect from various walks of life are now jumping onto the Twagon (I made that one up) or Twain (not Mark), though when I was asked whether I would follow them if doing so provided a better understanding of their activities, the simple answer was no. This video got it right many moons ago; sadly, this sequel showed the futility of struggling against the fail whale.

Can Twitter be reclaimed from the Idiocracy wannabees and put to good use? Perhaps iLounge’s feed will convince me that it can be done, but I’m not interested in joining in to be a part of the tweeting. I couldn’t even restrict this tirade to 140 words, let alone 140 characters, as the Twitriol inside just came bubbling out. Agree? Thank you. Disagree? Please retweat into your Twittersphere and twemble in outwage.

Read the Pros side of the Twitter discussion here.

« Twitter’s Pros and Cons: Jeremy, On iLounge’s New Twitter Feed & Approach

The $300 Bribe, Or, On How Not To Get An App Featured On iLounge (Updated) »

Comments

1

Get over yourself. Twitter is about small sized news updates. It doesn’t have to be about what you had for breakfast, etc. I use it to hear about snow conditions at my favorite resorts, breaking news items, etc. Name another application that’s as easy as a Twitter feed; especially with some of the great free iPhone applications (i.e. TweetDeck). Limiting the amount of characters is not a sin; I see a lot of wasted words above in your review.

Posted by Kevin G on December 9, 2009 at 2:03 PM (PDT)

2

I don’t understand why well established sites need to utilize Twitter feeds. More and more blogs/news sites I read resort to twitter now; what happened to RSS?

And for pete’s sake—why must CNN resort to reading the Twitter responses from users on stories?!?

Posted by Ryan S on December 9, 2009 at 2:13 PM (PDT)

3

#1
With respect, I don’t need to get over anything. Right now, IMHO, Twitter is not “about small sized news updates”. It is slowly being adopted by news channels but I prefer to use the TV/radio/internet or even newspapers for my news and if I need to know what the weather is like at my favourite resort, I’ll use the internet or world weather on the TV. I don’t believe news or weather can be conveyed effectively in 140 characters or less. You’re obviously a fan of Twitter which is fair enough. I’m entitled to my view too.

Posted by Bob Levens in UK on December 9, 2009 at 2:35 PM (PDT)

4

Why would you write about something you obviously only have such a limited knowledge of? I follow over 6,000 people and can’t remember the last time I saw someone tweet what they had for breakfast.

Posted by Hugh Briss on December 9, 2009 at 4:30 PM (PDT)

5

6000 people? And not one single tweet about food or drink?
You obviously follow the twitterati…

I’ll just say eggnog…..

Posted by Bob Levens in UK on December 9, 2009 at 4:44 PM (PDT)

6

I read over this article, and while I do agree with some points, I also disagree with many of them. I’ve written a reply, and my two cents on Twitter and posted it on my blog.

But to sum up what I said, I think it is important to say, however, that Twitter does have some useful features to it, and the service is only as useful as one makes it.

Posted by Tim M on December 9, 2009 at 10:15 PM (PDT)

7

My response, by the way, can be read at tim.verostica.com

Posted by Tim M on December 9, 2009 at 10:16 PM (PDT)

8

Tim,
Thanks for the measured response rather than just insulting me or telling me to get over it. The fact that you agree with just some of my points is reassuring coming from someone who feels Twitter can be a useful tool.
My use of “Twit” was in keeping with the habit of many users of the service to pepper their output with these made up words. Replace “Twit” with person, maybe it is not used as a shorthand version of Twitterer. I didn’t look to see.

But why spend time creating new, longer words to replace perfectly good ones, e.g. Tweeple (people - 1 extra character) when you’re limited to a maximum of just 140 characters and in the process make everyone sound like they are doing an Elmer Fudd impersonation?

Why not use text ‘speak’? It uses less characters which, to my mind, would be a better idea.

If, as you say, Twitter is only a tool (or would that be Twool?) then maybe it’s time to show that it does have a use other than as a blog for the lazy?

I am an old curmudgeon but you only have to Google “I hate Twitter” to realise that many others feel the same, so I’m not a lonely curmudgeon! I’m sure the massed ranks of Twitterers won’t miss my absence from this form of social networking…

Posted by Bob Levens in UK on December 10, 2009 at 3:22 AM (PDT)

9

Most people new to Twitter don’t understand it or the value it provides. That’s understandable for any web app, so I don’t fault you. I joined Twitter in June 2007, didn’t understand it, and my account sat dormant until just a few months ago, when I became an active user.

The value of Twitter is entirely derived from those users you choose to follow. You clearly have an aversion to banal updates about meal choices, goodnight wishes, and people who use Twitter slang. That’s fine, and your course of action is simple: unfollow those users.

Pruning and managing your follower list is an ongoing effort, but it can yield excellent results. I follow a wealth of different types of users on twitter - from tech journalists/commentators (@gruber) to startup CEOs (@jasonfried, @ev) to companies I deal with (@thinkgeek) to former university professors I’ve had (@edbarr) to friends and family. And that’s just scratching the surface.

And you know what? You don’t even have to tweet, Bob. Build yourself a follower list and consume consume consume. Not everyone is—or should be—a content producer. But Twitter gives you the option to be one.

Posted by Jonathan on December 10, 2009 at 1:02 PM (PDT)

10

Yeah, what they said. Bob, I just read your rant because I found it on twitter. Never would have seen it otherwise. For me Twitter is a great value-add as a newsfeed that provides me with items of interest, much like leafing through the newspaper on Sunday.

Posted by Marie Nordhues on December 10, 2009 at 4:54 PM (PDT)

11

#9 - I do understand Twitter. I just don’t want it. But thanks for trying to convert me wink

#10 - You read my rant on Twitter? - oh dear, fail… smile

Posted by Bob Levens in UK on December 11, 2009 at 2:10 AM (PDT)

12

Bob, as a fellow curmudgeon, and I’m right there with you. It seems the world’s 10^6 means of communication weren’t good enough, so along came texting (phone calls and e-mail are that inconvenient, really?), FaceBook (the anti-social “social” network), and now Twitter, the latest de-evolutionary narcissistic grease on the slide down to making “Idiocracy” a reality.

Time to do drink some Brawndo.

Posted by Herr Doktor on December 11, 2009 at 11:46 AM (PDT)

13

You know, I might blame twitter for your loathing of twitter.  I know that sound silly, but I’m honestly surprised that more people feel the same way you do.  The first thing twitter does is give you a list of suggested people to follow.  These are the people that won the twitter popularity contest.  I personally don’t care how close Oprah is to getting that Tiger Woods interview.  Or, how much Ashton Kutcher likes Demi’s butt and Nikon cameras.  And that’s just the path twitter encourages you to follow.

If you don’t follow the right people, twitter is useless.  There is a great potential to have a great internet filter here, but twitter might still lack the built-in tools to make that possible.

The new “lists” feature points in the right direction.  After you start following the “correct” people, and loose the attention whores, you can then organize them into groups, for easier following.  The key is people that share great blog posts and internet articles, covering subjects that are relevant to you, Bob.

Only then will someone like you find this particular piece of social media tolerable or even functional.

p.s. - when you start let me know.  I have a feeling you are the kind of person I would want to follow.

Posted by jwc110869 on December 13, 2009 at 11:21 AM (PDT)

14

Herr Doktor,
I have a plan for us curmudgeons - when it is perfected, I’ll let you know…

Jeff,
Just the thought of trying to filter out all the ‘noise’ is enough to prevent me signing up for Twitter.
I guess I’m just an old fashioned communicator - I save up my ‘news’ for that weekly phone call or email (or as it used to be, a letter) or even for a face-to-face chat over a coffee or a beer. That way I feel I have something interesting to share. Sending short bursts into cyberspace for all to read is a bit much.

P.S. If I ever start, I’m sure that Twitter will be zinging with cries of ‘twypocrite’ or similar!!

Posted by Bob Levens in UK on December 13, 2009 at 11:59 AM (PDT)

15

Bob I agree 100%.

I don’t need to follow 6,000 people on twitter, since I actually have family and friends to follow on facebook instead.

Posted by Mr. S on December 14, 2009 at 2:34 PM (PDT)

16

“The world does not need an aggregator of every few minutes of a person’s life in 140 characters…”.

Yup.  My sentiments exactly.  Never twittered.  Never will.

Posted by Downing on December 14, 2009 at 8:28 PM (PDT)

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