I’ve been on Twitter for a long time. In fact, this March will mark the fifth anniversary of me joining Twitter. Personally I can’t think of a better platform for catching up with the industry and getting the latest news from people I admire. I also like the fact that I can reply to anyone’s tweet and maybe get a response from them. Having said that, my relationship with Twitter follows an on-off pattern where I tweet regularly everyday and then just forget about it for weeks. Then there are those times when I’m simply turned off by it due to all the noise.
Here are the reasons I love Twitter and hate it at the same time:
Why I love Twitter:
- Real time news/ broadcasting: You can get the latest news faster than any news channel.
- Uncensored news: You can get news and information that is otherwise not published by the mainstream media. In countries where the media is controlled and the press freedom is stifled, social media sites like Twitter are the only sources that offer reliable information. Especially during the Gezi protests we relied mainly on Twitter to get the latest updates on what is going on because the majority of Turkish channels refused to cover the events related to the protests.
- It is possible to meet new people and the short exchanges you have with people can possible evolve into friendships: I met several like minded people who became real life friends, of course it happened once those conversations moved out of Twitter and onto some other platform. In that aspect it seems that Twitter is a starting point rather than a main place for building meaningful relationships but nevertheless I wouldn’t have met those people if it wasn’t for Twitter.
- The lists feature: It is nice to be able to form separate lists for different interests. I can just go to my Design list when I want to avoid seeing political tweets.
Why I hate Twitter:
- Too much noise
- Insincerity: The social connection ties are very weak on Twitter. I know the main purpose of Twitter is for broadcasting – people are following you to read about your ideas, your work and the recent news you share but I feel that far too many people are just there to gain more followers without caring much about what you share. I’ve had far too many instances where strangers started following me out of nowhere and when I didn’t follow them back they unfollowed me. This is something I would never do. What is the purpose of having more followers if they don’t care about what you share? What is the purpose if they don’t interact with you?
- You can’t express yourself and explain your ideas in such short snippets
- You can’t possibly have a civilized discussion with 140 characters: A lot of people use twitter wrong. Twitter was never meant to be a platform for discussing issues in depth. The fact that you can send a message to anyone doesn’t mean you should try to get into long winded conversations with them. 140 characters are nowhere enough to present an argument but often times they are more than enough to show your appreciation.
- Too many trolls, bots and spammers: Twitter could make phone number verification mandatory to decrease the number of trolls but that would be a big disadvantage for people who live under despotic regimes, so the troll problem won’t go away anytime soon.
I have no intentions of leaving Twitter of course. However, after all these years, unlike other social networks like Facebook, I haven’t been able to form a consistent sharing habit on Twitter. The weird part is sometimes I feel guilty for not posting anything for a long time because there is this hidden pressure to share something with the world if you’re on Twitter. I’ve seen countless articles that tell you what to do when you don’t know what to tweet about. Why? If you can’t think of anything to tweet then don’t tweet anything. We’re suffering from enough useless information overload as it is. I’d rather tweet when I feel like I have something valuable to say.