I love Twitter. This is a love letter to Twitter. But I'm aware it may not read like one, so...fair warning given.
Twitter used to have two groups of people. The ones who wanted to "network" about web 2.0, emerging social media, etc., and people who wanted to let their friends know what they were up to through the day.
Then the celebrities came along, and that was cool; it got more people interested in Twitter. People are Twitter fuel; it can't run without them.
It grew so fast at first it was always busting apart and it could get really frustrating. Then the businesses came along, and more spammers, and things changed really fast because people all started tweeting about "how to" use Twitter, and there was like this entire year of "experts" telling (oh my god I hate this word) "newbies" what they were doing wrong.
And signal-to-noise ratio blah, yes, you must RT this ratio of times, yes, blah, etc. They were making so many rules out of something that used to just be organic. They were doing it because they remembered simple early Twitter, and this thing was growing swiftly and crazily, but they were still annoying know-it-alls who didn't get it that other people don't all want a fascist control stick waved in their faces.
And then, of course, there were all the people who said Twitter was nothing but people saying what they had for lunch and that it would go away swiftly. But celebrities were still helping to grow it.
Here's the thing about tweeting lunch, by the way. Back when Twitter was so small and before the @ thing became official and some other things, you could just follow the entire feed if you wanted to (yes, it was like that, kinda weird but cool,) your friends actually were tickled if you said "I had a pizza dog for lunch" or whatever in the middle of the stream. You likely knew each other from somewhere else to begin with.
I don't remember when I realized I had more friends on Twitter that I met there than I'd met somewhere else. At first I loved that. Then there started being this whole thing where you owed people so much more exchange than you could possibly have time for.
And then came the endless Follow Fridays. Those were fun when they began. They're just monotonous now, because the people who do it use them because a website told them it was a good way to gain new followers, and they post endless indistinguishable lists of names to click on.
One change I hated was whenever @ tweets became exclusively between you, @whoever, and your mutual friends. I made fewer actual friends after that; harder to meet friends of friends. I can see it was Twitter taking control of how you made friends in order to use that for business purposes down the line. I have mixed feelings about it now. They didn't even invent @ but they wanted to manage it. Same with RT—that was just something invented by a user to easily offer attribution and also it became a useful method for getting around the private @ situation, but then Twitter tried to manage that, as well. When I have to RT at the actual Twitter page, I still often paste it in so I can control how I post it myself.
Then it was all about how many mentions you'd get, and pages and pages on how to increase followers, and people pleading with you to follow any and everyone who followed you. All I wanted was to read interesting links and thoughts, and exchange ideas and humor with like-minded people. I still wish you had to look a little harder for your followers number; it goes up and down every day as people follow and unfollow you if you don't instantly a) follow them back and/or b) instantly amuse them with wit, sagacity, and praise. It can be sort of disheartening if you allow yourself to think about it or just be a regular person.
Sometimes I follow a real person to be polite and think maybe I'll get to know them, only to learn they unfollowed me after I said something or didn't say something or other...hard to say. It happens to everyone. But then I'll politely say something to them and discover they didn't even remember they'd ever put me on their list. That feels like being dissed in the school lunchroom!
So I rarely follow back unless the person is just mad interesting in some way, or we obviously like many of the same things. If you look at the numbers, maybe 50% of my followees/followers are the same people. I also follow a lot of news and information tweeters, some funny celebrities but not the kind who are using it as stand-up practice, and some good blogs/bloggers. I don't mind they're not following me back. There are, I dunno, 100-200 "people" following me I don't follow. Maybe they think I'm interesting, maybe they're just bots, and I know some of them are hoping I'll mention their product. But I don't "owe" anyone a followback; none of us does.
At times, Twitter creates too much intimacy too swiftly. I think I have a knack of appearing just as intimate as I choose; enough to make people feel they know a real person, not enough to worry about overstepping and wishing I could take back something I shared. But that's me, doling out measures is just what I do. You know me so well because part of who I am is offering myself to people in this fashion. I was doing that before Twitter, anyway. However, this can lead to people thinking they are inside my private life. Now and then I'm okay with that; we get to know each other more by exchanging longer notes, etc. Mostly, though, Twitter isn't my life; it's my playground or a clubhouse I visit. I owe it nothing except the pleasure of my company, on my own terms.
Oh, hey! Remember when Twitter was kinda mostly older people and younger ones weren't interested because they just wanted to text each other? (Or s-ext, which apparently cheesy news media sites think is a "new" thing to do.)
One person I follow on Twitter has taken to tweeting "sexy" come-ons, and in the middle of the night she retweets really puerile, and, I hate to use this word, pointlessly vulgar stuff from people she follows, so they all appear in my stream if I'm up late. (Because talking about fucking=funny!) I'm not sure why I haven't unfollowed her. She thinks she's shocking and interesting, I guess. I'm definitely old enough to find overt statements like hers mostly just really boring. But I loathe unfollowing people. On Brizzly I can mute her and still keep her on the list.
I like when people flirt with each other on Twitter or with me on Twitter. Except when it seems too personal or proprietary. Then I'm sort of grossed out. (Young people; we said grossed out back when we said barf and stuff. It means unpleasantness.)
A reason people sometimes follow and unfollow me, specifically, is that I'm just a person, not a theme. So if they find me on a movie list, they're bummed to discover I talk about things on 18 other types of lists. Whatever, right? But the Rules of Twitter People were all on about establishing your personal brand for awhile, and so since my brand is actually serendipity, that doesn't play well in their directories.
Most people are like this, of course. You can't turn us all into folders in a labeled drawer.
Probably I'll be talking of Gene Kelly later today. A movie of his I haven't seen in eons is on TV in awhile. But tomorrow I may be talking about baseball, or baking biscotti. I miss posting music, which I used to do fairly regularly.
(I won't be talking about public unions. Apparently, the latest hand-holding/singing about rainbows thing to do is support government unions. To me, that feels like the world gone upside down and crazy. But I'm used to disagreeing with people, particularly about the 9th and 10th Amendments and what they are and are not about, and various other systemic matters. What I find hard to take is that it is all incredibly, unbearably, sometimes ignorantly, smug. Whenever people think we all, us sensible caring people, must necessarily agree on whatever they're wringing their hands about, the air fills with so much smug I feel like I need a new inhaler.)
(I will offer you this one statistic, though, as you march merrily toward your online sit-ins or whatever: 1 in 3 government workers belongs to a union. 1 in 15 of the private sector does. You go on and decry corporations and what you think of as the elite and whatnot; America is still full of small business owners and people who want to be one. Maybe don't piss off *all* of them at once by defining everyone who isn't on your side as Mr. Burns or Mr. Potter.)
I know someone on Twitter who occasionally dumps his account and starts all over. But not really; his friends find him, their friends find him, and he ends up back nearly where he was within a couple weeks. But in the meantime he was able to unload some of what started to seem like a burdensome obligation toward people he's never even met.
We all like ourselves pretty well, and that's a good thing. We dislike ourselves enough, too, to keep trying to improve. But because we have a personal sense of "hey, I'm valid," we (I mean generally, and will be snobbish enough to say I'm not much including myself, but I do get it,) assume that if we like someone else or if they seem like a good person, they must think the same way we do about various things we find important.
Well, some of us are so down on life we assume everyone is at odds with us in every way, but it's actually the exact same phenomenon, if you think about it.
Here's a thing, though. I like a couple people who will probably be reading this and think they're pretty good people even though we agree on probably no issue anyone thinks is very important, except basic stuff like don't hurt babies and animals.
You do, too, of course. Let's take a moment for self-congratulations. Pat, pat. Aren't we just splendid?
On Twitter, though, you'll find people full of outrage that someone doesn't feel exactly as they do about whatever issue they're clacking about at any given moment. They find themselves splendid for Truly Understanding Life and Politics In a Way You Do Not Seem to Get. You are a stupid evil conservative/whiny elitist liberal/mindless untraveled American/fill in the blank. You have no nuances to your character whatsoever; you suck.
However, Twitter is still all about you. You go on and clack however you wish. And read whatever clacks you like. People who can be bothered to get outraged by your disagreement with their clacks probably need to go feed their chickens now, or else stomp on the people they pay to feed their chickens for them.
Everything is black or white. Life is a "like" button.
I read that on Twitter, and it was RTed endlessly, so it must be true.
I'm just going to say one officially, possibly unbearably smug thing now.
Hey, remember way back last month when everyone in Egypt was holding hands and singing songs and swaying back and forth in a Brotherhood of Spiritual Disagreement and Love because they were trying to dump their corrupt old leader? It was a new dawn! Whee! We all witnessed it together.
And now they're killing each other again.
Aw. It's so sad and disappointing, isn't it?
But look at this cute puppy! If only everyone Libya and Wisconsin had a cute puppy, everything would be better!