Monday, 4 January 2010
What is it?
I briefly touched on this subject at the end of my last post. Reluctant as I always am to write about a subject which is being covered by everybody, with newspapers even reporting sodding tweets these days, and what the fuck could I add that hasn't already been said, right? - I will be writing (mostly) about Twitter, but the principles could just as easily apply to other strands of 'social media'. If you like.
I have around 130 followers (OK, maybe slightly fewer than that) currently on Twitter, though a proportion of that number are marketing type accounts, a large-ish percentage are now slebs (my main worry about Twitter is that slebs are taking over - their natural wit and honed writing skills forcing the plebs to the sidelines, and as a result, the celebrities - along with a few uber-geeks - get to set the agenda. But what are you gonna do?) a few are similar saddoes to myself, aiming to try and enhance their online personae by upping their following quota, and a very small minority are actual, real people. People I have seen in the meat, or - more rarely - have 'met' online. The latter I will discount for the time-being, because they are, almost by default, more new media friendly, but the former are - in the words of the fabulous Beasties - my primary bone of contention.
For reasons many and various, most of the people I know do not tweet. Not really. There are a couple who do (in fact, to be completely accurate, only two of my real life acquaintances keep up a regular stream of Twitterhood, and one of those is a newbie. One other chooses to dip in whenever the fancy takes him, but I have long since given up on trying to figure that guy out. You know who you are) I can detect nervousness in some friends, along the lines of: 'Who are these people, and why are they following me?' or 'Everyone will think I'm a dick'. I can also see a 'what's the fucking point?' attitude in one or two, which is fair enough I suppose. Though I have managed to talk one guy into signing up on the basis that it's a cheap way to keep in contact when separated by geography, he studiously refuses to update his status and only uses the site for direct messaging.
But, perhaps more interestingly, I have also heard a general objection to the whole idea of social media (though Facebook seems to have escaped this particular censure) on the grounds that 'everyone is talking, but nobody is listening'. The complaint, such as it is, is that the rise of Web 2.0 (not sure if this is still a term we can use...?) is either symptom or cause of the general decline in society. Indeed, there have been some strands along these lines, with many bemoaning the rise of troll culture, and the opportunities online communities afford people to vent anonymously. This is an extension of a general impatience with human communication - or the lack of it - and Twitter perhaps neatly sums up the phenomenon. Although I can see the point to a degree, I cannot whole-heartedly agree. Despite the dearth of meatspace contacts among my followers, I have enjoyed some good communication, and generally feel that I have learnt, and continue to learn, something from the 140 character musings of those whose tweets I follow.
I am still mystified, and a little disappointed, that more of those I know have not taken to it with the same enthusiasm as me. Bastards.