Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Twitter, Please Don't Suck

Okay, if you are anywhere near me (in the sense of being in my gravitational field) you understand that I love Twitter and think it has huge potential. I operate four different Twitter streams (@LarryShort, @lshort, @WorldVisionUSA and one I'm not allowed to publicly identify). When it comes to making publishing available to the masses, and getting the word out (assuming you have a word that needs to be gotten out, in 140 characters or less), Twitter is the cat's meow. Or at least the starling's song. So to speak.

But now that I have used Twitter for the past three years or so, there are a couple of things that really annoy me. And they mostly involve people -- not technology.

So, I thought I'd dedicate a blog post to getting these things (or people) off my chest.

Here are three things that really annoy me about my experience with Twitter thus far:

1) Mechanisms that exist purely for inflating your follower count. Or, perhaps I should say, the people who use those mechanisms. At its core, in my mind, Twitter as a social networking phenomenon should be about content and affinity. If you have great content, you want to publish that content for the sake of people who are interested in the things you are interested in.

I am interested in specific things. Social networking and related technologies, for instance. Writing. Acoustic music, in particular worship music. (I enjoy playing acoustic guitar and mandolin.) Various forms of cycling -- cyclocross, road biking, and mountain biking, pretty much in that order. Young adults (college/career) ministries, and social/cultural phenomena that affect young adults. Church and ministry leadership. Poverty and humanitarian work.

And most of all, I am interested in Jesus. I feel a strong affinity to other people who have committed their lives to Christ and worship Him, regardless of denominational affiliation or the flavor of the month.

So, these are the kinds of people I enjoy mixing it up with, on Twitter and on other platforms (such as Facebook). Twitter gives me one more great way to create new relationships with people who are interested in these things, for me to publish for their benefit my thoughts, commentaries, questions, observations; and for me to learn from others who are doing the same.

2) Now, let me tell you what (or who) I am NOT interested in:
  • Women "looking to establish a serious relationship" and posting provocative photos of themselves online. I have a woman I am perfectly happy with and I am offended by anyone (other than her) showing me their dainties. Knock it off. Go get a real life. I'm not interested. If you contact me, be prepared for the fact that I am going to tell you how much God loves you and wants to change your life ... then I am going to block you from contacting me again. So if you don't want to be witnessed to, please don't bother.
  • Self-proclaimed social networking/marketing guru types. Nothing against used car salesmen, they have to make a living too, but if I feel the need to buy something I'll come looking for it, and when I do I'll give you an opportunity to earn your commission. In the meantime I think most marketing types are bloodsucking leeches. No offense intended.
  • People who think I am stupid enough to believe that I would be interested in paying them money to learn a new way to "make $30,000 a month" without selling my soul in the process. I've got news for you. You are a bloodsucking leech.
  • Personal injury lawyers, or people trying to tell me that if I have driven myself into a world of hurt by buying too many things I can't pay for, don't worry, I'm really okay and it's not my fault and they can help me make it all better if only I will let them "consolidate my debt." Go away and get a life. Some of you may think you are helping people. But most of you probably know the truth deep down that you are in reality bloodsucking leeches.
  • Thank God union organizers haven't been following me on Twitter or else I'd be talking about them too.
This is not a comprehensive list ... but my point is, there are a lot of people I am simply NOT interested in having a relationship with on Twitter. But unfortunately these are the kind of people who seem to follow me most frequently. They either want to suck my blood or else just inflate their own follower numbers so they can look good in front of some poor unsuspecting sap.

I think the world would be a better place if (rather than using an automated tool to blast potential followers) Twitter users would do two things: 1) Broadcast great content so that kindred spirits found them and followed them because of that content and what it says about who they are. This is what I try to do. Then 2) When one of those persons follows me, I check them out to see if they are a kindred spirit. If so, I follow them back. Unfortunately a lot of the bloodsuckers waste a lot of my time. I try not to follow them back.

Otherwise, of course, a great way to use Twitter is as a research tool to find other people you have things in common with, then follow them (and hope they follow you back). But it shouldn't be all about getting followed back. It really annoys me when someone follows me, then I follow them back because they look interesting; then they unfollow me (apparently so they can try to lure some other poor sap into their web and make their follow ratio look good). Hello? It should be about the content and the affinity. So why in the heck did you follow me in the first place? Just to get me to follow you back then hope I wouldn't notice when you went away? Give me a break.

3) Ppl who spk whut appears 2 B an alien language just Bcuz they're trying 2 cram sumthing profound N2 140 chars. Holy smoke, don't slaughter the language just because there's a new and exciting channel in which to use it. Do you want your children talking like that?

Although I still have no idea how they are going to monetize it (and when they finally figure it out, unless they are as incredibly smart as the folks at Google or Facebook, I'm sure we'll all be sorry), I really appreciate the great tool that the people at Twitter have created.

But, lest that tool go to the wayside like e-mail itself is in danger of doing, let's all try and work real hard to keep from making it suck. Okay?

By the way, there are two kinds of people I would really love to hear from, in response to this blog: 1) Bloodsucking leeches. Thanks to social networking and the democratization of the Web, you have the right and capacity to respond. But please identify yourself as a bloodsucking leech when you do. 2) People who are not bloodsucking leeches and have good ideas about how to identify and squash them. - Larry

1 comment:

Steve said...

To the point . / great