Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What do People Think About Twitter?

So about a year ago, I got peer-pressured by certain people who will remain nameless (though I will still link to them!!) into joining Twitter.

For a while, I was actually tweeting a bit, but in the past nine months or so, my use has almost solely consisted of the automatic ones that alert people that I updated my blog.

I know that as a blogger, I'm supposed to be a new media maven, and totally into twittering. And what's weird is that I'm one of those people who updates my Facebook status several times a week. So why not Twitter?

Part of it is form, I think. Which is why it might have been a mistake for Facebook to leave out the whole "Name is..." format. It's easier for me to update a status when I have a format. But part of it is that while I know you all dearly love me, I kind of feel like most of you don't have a burning desire to hear about my life in 140 character increments throughout the day. I mean ... do you?

Here are some of the tweets I might have written had I twittered yesterday:

Arduous: Ugh, I had a horrible night last night. I was all feverish, yet cold at the same time. But I'm not getting sick!

Arduous: Ok, I'm getting sick. Time to check out the NHS?

Arduous: Emergency walk-in is at 3pm. Guess I'll finally check out socialized medicine.

Arduous: Opted against going to the NHS. Too tired to get out of bed. Watching Gilmore Girls instead.

I am sure you are all riveted by the drama that was "Will Arduous go to the NHS today, or won't she?" I should definitely pitch this idea to my former colleagues.

My Facebook updates aren't much more interesting, but A#1, I update them once a day as opposed to multiple times a day and A#2, most of the people reading my Facebook updates are friends and family who, ya know, are contractually obligated to be interested in my life (for my friends and family reading this, it's in Section C, Subsection 3), as opposed to blog readers who really owe me no such loyalty whatsoever.

On a more philosophical level, I wonder if Twitter is doing us a disservice by taking us out of the present. As a writer, I already spend too much of my life observing instead of doing. I compose blog posts about the beauty of spring in my head, instead of actually ya know ... being present and taking in the beauty of spring. On the one hand, I like that through writing, I'm able to capture potentially forgettable moments forever, but there's a danger that by constantly acting as an observer, instead of a participant, I'll end up ruining said moments. It's like a wedding I once went to, where the photographer was so wrapped up in getting good shots of the ceremony that it ruined the ceremony for those of us actually present.

Twittering seems to have major disruptive potential in this regard. Just look at all the congresspeople that were tweeting during the Non State of the Union. Or this blogger, who apparently tweeted about a movie, midway through, while on a date.

The thing is, it is highly probable that if I started using Twitter regularly, I could get addicted to it. I am a severe internet addict as it is, I'm a blogger, I like talking about myself, and I have a competitive personality. If I started using Twitter a lot, every day, I could fall victim to Twitter Mania! I can just imagine all the effort I might put into trying to rack up myriads of followers.

So I think it's best for me to just throw up my hands. My name's Ruchi, and I'm a blogger who doesn't tweet. And if that makes me a social pariah, so be it.


Anonymous said...

The main reason I don't tweet is because of my future employment possibilities. I might become a professor (finishing up PhD), and the last thing I'd ever want my students to find were cached tweets of me talking about how my cat has fecal incontinence or how an episode of Star Trek: TNG made me cry.

I have a facebook page but it's got all the privacy settings such that no one can read it or even search for me unless they are my friend, and even still I delete any "dicey" posts to my wall. I'll probably delete it if I become a professor, but it's just such a good way to see pictures of my friend's new babies, see what my sibling is doing 24/7, etc. So maybe I'll just keep it locked up.

Anonymous said...

and i'll give you one guess as to whether jennifer youngblood is my real name. ;)

Anonymous said...

Just don't tweet if you don't feel like it.
It's stupidly superficial compared to real blogging. And I like your blog.
I'm quite addicted to the WWW aswell, but actually even my facebook account disturbes me... but it's difficult to give it up...
too many accounts over the web are just as bad as too many things and objects in real life

knutty knitter said...

I only do blogs. I don't even want to know about the rest as it took me long enough to feel comfortable just in this part of the web. I agree about participating rather than viewing only. When you take photos it can be hard to see anything that isn't in your viewfinder and even harder to actually interact with whats going on. I try to limit my photos now and have gone back to my sketch book instead. That way I am still part of the scenery instead of a step removed.

viv in nz

Katy said...

I have never participated in twitter and maybe if I did what I am about to say would change, but on its face, just hearing people talk about it and the things people "tweet" about I find it kind of "Brave New World" esq.

Honestly, the government doesn't have to invade people's privacy when people are doing it for them!

And as much as I enjoy reading your blog (its one I go to daily), no I don't think I would care to know your minute by minute thought processes on wheather or not you want to see a doctor.

Also I agree with your point about the Congressmen tweeting during Obama's speach. Are you really paying attention? How much can you be absorbing when you are more consentrated on what you are writing than what you are hearing?

Joyce said...

I think the blogging is definately enough. I've actually deleted "friends" from FaceBook because I don't think evey person I went to high school with needs to know I have a cold! Nor do I want to know what they had for breakfast! And I agree with you, that too much time is spent writing about life instead of living it. A blog post is much more thoughtfully constructed, and generates conversation, where the tweeting is just sort of like the blurting out of thoughts we were all taught as small children to just keep to ourselves.

ruchi said...

Katy, really?! You don't want to know if I want to go to the doctor?!

No, but seriously, although I am not personally that into it, I know there are a lot of people who use Twitter, and manage to say interesting things a lot, and it can be a cool source of information. Does anyone who uses Twitter want to talk about the potential benefits?

Chile said...

To me, Twitter and the other "instant report on my life" sites seems to be very egocentric. They assume the world cares about every instant of one's life. Nope. (Joyce said this better - keep the random thoughts to yourself, please.)

I find blogs far more valuable because people generally take some time to put down their thoughts in more than "140 characters" and actually have a point to sharing them.

Farmer's Daughter said...

How does this work? Do you text?

My phone is about 7 years old and doesn't text. So I guess I'm out?

Plus I spend the hours between 7:30 and 2 asking people to please put away their phones or taking them away.

I get annoyed by people on their phones in public. I once yelled at a relative for texting while singing "Happy Birthday" to her mother.

I think twittering is just not for me. :)

ruchi said...

A lot of people text to twitter from their phones, but people also update it from their computers.

To be fair, again, no one forces people to get on Twitter, but people are on it and do follow others, so it seems that some people are genuinely interested in reading little snippet updates about other people's lives.

Jamie D. said...

Thank you for saying this (writing, whatever). I have both a Facebook and a Twitter account, because "everyone was doing it"...and frankly, I don't tweet (aside from those automated posts letting people know when my blog is updated). It's so hard to know what people want to know, and much easier to just not share anything to avoid sharing "too much".

I like Facebook, and I really try hard to censor my "status updates" so that they're not boring. But then again, I feel like facebook is more private - I have filters and some "friends" who don't need to know everything don't have access to my status updates & wall postings. I wouldn't want to jeopardize my job accidentally or anything, but I do think it's a good networking tool, and a great way to keep in touch with family and friends from out of town/state.

Twitter - not so much. I don't think I've even been to the web site in quite awhile...I prefer reading/writing actual blog posts.

But for the record, your fake tweets above would have amused me greatly, if I were actually checking twitter throughout the day.

Chile said...

Ruchi - yep, people are reading it, but why? Don't they have enough to do? I'd rather spend my time blogging, canning, gardening, and doing the things that make a real difference...you know, like playing word games on the computer. ;-)

But then again, I've been sucked into those worlds before and can understand the appeal. I did "bulletin boards" on the computer way back in college and some live chat-type things. But, I also didn't have the sense to plant a garden or ride my bike to work back then.

I also don't text. In fact, I had the phone company turn off the texting capability on my phone so I don't have to receive (and pay for) anonymous or advertising texts either. Dang, I just don't keep up with any of the modern trends, do I?

Jamie D. said...

I just realized that sounded badly - I didn't mean to make light of your being ill, and I hope you're feeling better today!

Anonymous said...

I signed up for Twitter a while back and just couldn't get into it. But then a bunch of friends from college found me and it became a nice way to feel connected to them. I've also gotten some good recipes and feedback by polling my friends ("followers" sounds so weird...).

I'm actually the opposite way from many of you because I also have a Facebook account, but I never use that. I just set up Twitter so that it would forward my status to Facebook because otherwise I never logged in.

ruchi said...

Will, yeah, see I think that's the difference. My high school and college friends are all on Facebook, so I find FB a nice way to reconnect with all of them.

Chile, I agree with you, but like you, have got sucked into many things that I never thought I'd get sucked into. ;) I guess I just don't want those who Tweet to feel like this whole blog post is meant to gang up on them for Tweeting. If other people want to tweet I have no problem in how other people choose their time wasters... I certainly have plenty of my own!!

Green Bean said...

Whew! I was afraid you would link to me on the whole tweeting this. Beth talked me into it as well. I do tweet - several times a week. I dunno. I like it for a way of easily spreading the "green message" or offering quick tips or even better soliciting ideas. I also link to my blog posts there.

For me, it is not addictive. Just another tool that I check a couple times a week. But your post made me smile. Jon Stewart did a bit about Twitter after our devoted congressmen and women spent Obama's entire speech tweeting. It hits on a lot of the things you mention. Hilarous.

ruchi said...

GB, yeah I totally get twittering a few times a week, but it seems like if you twitter fairly seldom, your few tweets get lost amongst the myriad of tweets. No? Do you still get response to your tweets if you only tweet a few times a week?

Anonymous said...

Beth's Rant: Why does everyone feel they have to use Twitter to inform the world what they had for breakfast or how disgusting their latest hangnail is? Twitter is what you make of it. I love to use it to link to articles or posts that I read online that I think are interesting but I will probably not write a whole blog post about them. One of my favorite Tweeters is @lighterfootstep because that's exactly what they do.

Yes, I do sometimes write personal things if I think they are really funny or interesting in some way (at least to me) but I tend to "unfollow" people who do too much of it or who tweet too much in the first place.

So here's the thing with Twitter and Facebook, like someone else said, I have linked my Twitter to my Facebook account so that it automatically udpates my Facebook status. I've had some great Facebook conversations that way... people responding to articles I've linked to through Twitter. Or my blog posts.

I'm not saying you have to use it, Ruchi, but I think maybe you are not seeing the possibilities for how you could use it. For example, you just sent out an email asking for people to interview for your dissertation. That would be a great thing to tweet! And if your Twitter were linked to your Facebook account, the request would go up there, too.

No one is forcing anyone to discuss their kitty's fecal incontinence on Twitter, least of all me! The only writing requirement is the 140 character limit. Other than that, Twitter is whatever you want it to be.

My two cents. Since you pounded on my door this morning and asked.


ruchi said...

Beth, thank you for your response. You are absolutely right that those are really good uses for Twitter. I think I probably didn't take the time to find the stuff on Twitter that I would actually like ... I really do enjoy it when people link to news stories on Facebook, so I would probably like that on Twitter too. :)

But for now, I am still going to stay away. Like I said, I have a highly addictive personality where the internet is concerned, and I have a dissertation to procrastinate, I mean write.

Crunchy Chicken said...

Ruchi - I am not a twit either. I hereby challenge you to see who can hold off longer from getting sucked into Twittering...

I don't know what the prize would be though. Any suggestions?

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

I've stayed clear so far, mostly because I'm scared of becoming addicted too!

BTW, I'm sorry but I did have to laugh at "go to the NHS". Your Britishness is coming along, but you're not quite talking like a native yet!

Hope you feel better

ruchi said...

Cath, heh, yes I think me and my American friends definitely amuse our British friends with our muddled British English.

But that's okay because we are also insidiously seeping American English phrases into our British friends!! ;)

Robbie said...

I tweet for work, and frankly I can't get into it. I don't quite understand its appeal - particularly if you follow 100s of people.

From a personal standpoint, I blog, I work, I have a family. Who has time to tweet when I really should be cleaning my house?

Allison said...

email, texting, myspace, facebook and now twitter...how many types of updates do we really need? How can one get any work done? I tweet for my business, but quite infrequently. I'm not really that into it.

Unknown said...

I use Twitter occasionally but for the most part I use facebook. I have it set up so that it updates my Twitter every time I use facebook. I am a big fan of the status updates and really enjoy using them. I love funny things people write sometimes and it can bring a smile to my day! So my family and I created a application on facebook called Status King. www.statusking.net It has the funniest status updates of all time!

Buy Tamiflu said...

It is absolutely natural when you use the services comfortable for you and ignore other ones even if they are popular