Now, I know there are people reading this who are fans of Twitter. They love Twitter, they are on there, twittering or tweeting, or whatever the correct term is, day and night. I know that millions are now using Twitter...but I must confess...I just do not get it's appeal.
Now I can hear the cries, I can hear the shouts of disagreement. And I will admit, maybe it does have some use. Certainly, if you want to link to a post, or an article somewhere, or make a quick comment on some issue, or publicize something, it may be useful. Because there are those millions, all linked together in some loosely tied network of 'followers' to 'followers'. But as a form of conversation, I suggest there are far better ways online..does anyone remember IMing. Now, it is not public, but to me that is a plus. It is clear and easily followed. People are not reading some Tweet in the middle of a conversation wondering what the heck are they talking about. Oh, I can hear some saying, you need to download something like TweetDeck or TwitterFox. Well, why do I want an application that is so flawed that I need to download another application to make it really usable? And it is SUCH a draw on your time if you try to pay attention to it, a distraction to my already distracted mind. Then there is the supposedly growing issue of companies and vendors searching your tweets for keywords and then sending you spam after spam based on what you said. Well, it is ALL public there on Twitter, but I for one don't need anymore spam.
OK, maybe I am just not a social person. I admit I am an introvert. Maybe Twitter is just not for me. I could accept that happily. No Facebook, no Myspace, no Twitter.
But...something happen a couple of weeks ago that I just can't get out of my mind and it involves Twitter and what I suggest is possibly a real negative aspect that goes to the very heart of what Twitter is. It is fast. It is brief. It is, by it's very nature, superfical.
It was Easter Sunday. Somewhere, I think on cable news, they were discussing a Big Hoop-De-Doo controversy being 'discussed' on Twitter, starting on Saturday. It seems there was an issue with Amazon. Some authors, who happened to be gay, found that their books were no longer showing a ranking on Amazon. They had before...they did not now, making them also very difficult to search for. Amazon was out to somehow censor LGBT authors!
Now it was Sunday, and I am sure the headquarters of Amazon, as most businesses, were closed for the weekend, and the only representative of Amazon anyone seems to have talked to was a lowly customer service rep who gave an inadequate and poorly informed answer that just riled people up even more.
But no need to wait for evidence, no need to look into the suggestion that this was part of a large computer issue perhaps. No, the thousands and thousands and thousands of tweeters were decided. It was an Evil Conspiracy. Boycotts of Amazon were pledged and as the day wore on, it got more and more angry, more unreasonable, nastier and nastier. The few lone tweets that calls for pause, to wait for the facts, who pointed out it was perhaps illogical to think that Amazon, for some unknown reason, would want to alienate there LGBT readers, were ignored in the sea of angry tweets, all feeding off each other. It was a mob mentality of tweets. If Amazon was the Monster in the castle, the tweeters would have been storming the gate with pitchforks and burning torches.
But the problem was it was all based on almost no known facts. Call it the 24 Hour News mentality. All facts must be know instantly and all problems resolved by the next commercial. We are overwhelmed with material to process, and the more there is and the faster it comes at us, the poorer job we do with it. What actually happened to those rating is still being discussed. It seems it was far more widespread than just a number of LGBT books. Some claim it was the work of a hacker. Personally, I have no idea, but I really don't think that we need another medium that allows us to think even less, and consider issues even less carefully, and to not acquire the facts before we make a decision but instead just react emotionally, just as quickly as we possibly can. The damage is done. Consequences be damned!
Now, ok, it was not all Twitter's fault. It might have happened on another medium..but it didn't as far as I know. Twitter by it's very nature made it possible.
You know the really funny thing? One of the big investors in Twitter (and can someone explain to me how Twitter makes any money?) is none other than Amazon founder, Chairman and CEO Jeff Bezos. I guess he better not take weekends off anymore!
P.S. Of course, maybe it will all be moot at some point. I just read an article that says Twitter has low user loyalty. A lot of people sign up, maybe because of the famous people they hear on it, but "more than 60 percent of Twitter users have stopped using the micro-blogging service a month after joining, according to Nielsen Online research released on Tuesday."