It seemed like a good idea at the time. I’d just started the blogging thing, but I didn’t do Facebook (and never will), so maybe Twitter would be a salubrious method of attaining an audience?
Okay, so I didn’t know what I was doing or what I was getting myself into to, as per usual.
And this brings us to another problem – okay, I’ve got lots of them – that I originally and mistakenly viewed Twitter, in the deepest depths of delusion’s grandeur I might add, as a resourceful tool, rather than for what it is: a social media site designed by tools for tools to be used blithely when you’ve got a spare half-hour to kill or you just can’t be arsed at work. In truth (most) folk don’t use it to surf the net, now a euphemism for ‘finding shit’, because it’s a completely ineffective and therefore frustrating method of doing so.
So I’ve learned the hard way that Twitter isn’t the forum of choice for the brightest, best and funniest to dwell or where they intend to produce their best content. They’ll use Twitter to link to better content elsewhere, but that means your potential audience has to be trawling through the mediocrity of Twitter in the first place, and that makes you wonder whether reach or quality of audience is considered to be more important.
Nor is Twitter a constructive use of my time. I realise this now that I don’t have any spare time to kill, but frustratingly, and having invested a certain amount of time fomenting a fatuous Twitter persona, I’m inured to it. Now every daily trawl through my timeline feels like wasted time, it’s the same tropes, mopes and jokes as Twitter’s punitive character limit limits its users into several distinct categories and modes of conversation:
- Those who use it to exclusively chat and keep in touch with their mates and have little interest in engaging with anyone outside that circle – fair enough. However, these tweets are useless to any else who happens upon them as they’re esoteric, in that only those who have knowledge of their context can understand them and what they should mean.
- Businesses trying to sell you something in some guise indirectly or directly through ‘promoted tweets’, a recent development and a fucking rotten one.
- Newspapers, also cynical bastards and businesses, spam tweeting (tweetspamming?) their stories and opinion pieces in the hope you’ll click on them and then accidently click on the adverts festooning either side of the page.
- The trolls, who can occasionally be funny, but often aren’t. Some advice fellas – ‘Your maw’s got a skinhead’ is only truly funny once.
- People who set up accounts simply to amass followers, ahhh the tantalising promise of validation through popularity. You know the sort, the follow me and I’ll follow back, learn how to earn 10k followers immediately wankers. Sometimes I wonder if they’re trying to change the meaning of irony in the modern lexicon, by becoming an unwitting parody of the Nigerian scammer story from ten years ago. In this case the scam is self-propagating, with its delusion being that acquiring followers just to have followers is worth anything. Even so, I actively partook in the guaranteed follow back shite for a while, remember, I was trying to gain an audience. Of (mostly) these people? Sad eh?
- Which brings us to the shameless self-promoters like me, and most of us are crap at that anyway, plus as we see Twitter’s social element in a cynical light, we only engage in that side of it half-heartedly.
- Pious bores. They tell you with an incessant smugness how great they are because their cause is noble, and what they’re doing to advance it. Then we get the haughty tweets in reaction to when X-Factor (or some other cultural dustbin talent/celebrity show) is on. These tweets and twatters are the best. They’re so obsessed, sorry, I mean driven, that they aren’t distracted by trivialities that other people prefer to discuss – yet they’re using Twitter to tell you this and they’re using it to moan about other people moaning and bitching about Simon Cowell’s chest hair, Amanda what’s-her-face’s dress is, well, something or that the last one on was terrible – raises eyebrow. Put it this way; reading these tweets may or may not be less appealing than performing self sodomy with a Pineapple.
- The kind of people who take great delight in regaling you how great their lives are. These timelines tend to contain bountiful selfies and retweets from celebrities, just an observation.
- Folks who ‘faction up’ to wind up some sub-group or other, when it targets rank stupidity this is deserved – say the white supremacist enclave, dickheads trying to promote islamophobia as a cultural pathology, or fans of a rival football club getting touchy after their team loses, to use three disparate examples. Other times not so much, say the ex-footballer Phil Neville getting abuse because his daughter has a disability.
And that last example provides us Twitter’s best and worst facet, and it’s the same thing – that it exposes people for who and what they are. There’s that maxim – there are things you can think but shouldn’t say. Twitter is ideal mechanism for betraying that common sense as the unseemly elements of our nature and beliefs, which many people normally have the restraint to suppress, are invariably liberated when the (relative) safety of physical detachment provided by social media is spliced with the parameters of condensing a thought into a hundred and forty characters. A character limit invariably strangles nuance, or in my case betrays several attempts at petty sarcasm.
Trying to have a discussion or argument on Twitter is the equivalent of trying to reason with a pissed up dickhead with a chip on their shoulder – sluggish, fractured, frustrating ultimately futile – you’re wrong, no I’m right, I’ll tell you why, but it’ll take me two, three or four tweets to explain why, and god forbid someone else should get involved and do the same thing. Then if you lose or can simply no longer be bothered, you can just block the other person or persons or they you.
Twitter does have its moments. On the rare occasion your timeline isn’t cluttered with junk it can be a good source of comedic interludes and news. It was at its best during the recent general election. Rumours of results and resignations spread quickly across it, adding another layer of intrigue and at times comedy to unfolding events – the schadenfreude of watching Labourites go from denial to rage to dejection in real-time was, in particular, glorious. Watching last summer’s World Cup was another example – the bitchfest during the penalty shootout between Costa Rica and the Netherlands was a highlight – though live sport, especially football, and Twitter are a tougher juxtaposition as the whole point is to be watching the game, not typing or reading a timeline about it.
These events that make daily participation on Twitter worthwhile are too few to keep me engaged regularly, but they’re stopping me from leaving altogether. From now on I’ll only use Twitter to post links to the articles I write, which is appropriate, as I’ll be using Twitter with the same frequency as my blog is viewed – not often.