G.L.Piggy [at] gmail.com
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Matt Lewis, an early conservative “Twitter evangelist” has second-thoughts on the medium.
Like a baseball player who changes his stance, I’m always looking for ways to jostle my writing process and preserve my sanity. At some point, it became clear to me that Twitter was becoming more of a hindrance than a help.
For business reasons, I can’t escape the prison (or, if you prefer, high school) that is Twitter, so I’ve had to become creative. I’ve created Twitter lists, where I can see only tweets from select people who inspire and inform. I also have a locked Twitter feed that is solely for my friends.
The biggest change is that I’m no longer really a part of the Twitter “community,” meaning that I rarely interact with people on Twitter who wish to engage me. There are drawbacks to this, surely, but the upside is that I preserve my sanity.
This seems like a recurring process for all new social media. There’s a huge access and interaction dump – we connect with everything – and then we all deal with the time suck and the trolls and the spam and develop strategies to maintain our sanity and block out the things that we know will distract us if we don’t do something to limit access to and from the stimuli. It’s a boom and bust cycle. A herd mentality built around two tipping points. We went through this with Myspace and Facebook. We friended everyone on the upward swing and then realized that we hated most of our “friends” and their annoying status updates. Some of us systematically thinned our friends lists. Facebook predicted all of this by biasing our exposure to our more intimate friends.
Yglesias has discussed the life cycle of social networking. There are many analyses of the social networking life cycle; this one is as helpful as any and it focuses on the similarities of this particular life cycle to the life cycle for products, firms, and industries in general. You have innovators and first movers and growth and then mass consumption and then a plateau and then a decline. Just as Facebook can be seen as an improvement on Myspace, Twitter won’t go anywhere. Perhaps a new platform will improve upon it, but its success so far shows that there is a demand for a diversity of information and connections to interesting people. The site has already done a lot to limit autobots; now you’ll just get a lot more people like Lewis who manicure their wispier and weaker limbs.
Maybe that’s the life cycle of everything. A red giant down to a supernova. It grows up to an unsustainable mass and then collapses under its own weight and becomes more dense, more of its essential substance in a smaller space. On Twitter you want more of the good information and the good connections with less of the distraction and the fluff.
As side-reading, I’ve written on the “internet seduction cycle” .This doesn’t apply to Twitter as much because this social networking site is much less intimate and it is more information-driven than relationship-driven.