Twitter – ‘I have the conch’… ‘no I have the conch’.

Has Twitter become Lord the Flies (that’s flies – not fries)?

That’s the question that came to my mind during the week watching for some reason, a certain cricketer sledge an opposing team. At least this time he wasn’t having to be beeped out.

Having been on Twitter for a few years now, I think it’s changed. I know I’ve changed my habits with it – (lists on Tweetdeck!) but recently I wonder if people on Twitter have been drinking some extra cranky juice?

Simply put, I’m not getting the thrill from the shrill. In fact, the level of bagging people / companies / people seems over the top and completely unnecessary – just like that radio announcer guy yelling in Piers Morgan’s face the other day on TV – cos yelling gets you a long way, right?

As was the case in Lord of the Flies, people seem to be scrambling for the conch (the shell that the boys in the story used to signify who could speak) and yelling “I have the conch”, then another grabs it and yells “I have the conch” – except with Twitter, it can be lots of people all at once, doing it, again and again, and for a change, they’ll retweet someone else who’s been yelling and add to the cacophony.

Thanks Mr Carstens and Year 12 English, too. I hoped one day I’d remember something from it…!

I do like a good unfollow. These days I also mute certain peoples’ names and topics – thank you Tweetdeck and goodbye Foursquare mentions (more on those later) and a certain former newspaper columnist. Peace!

As Twitter has matured, or people seem to be on it more, my peeves have become more ingrained. For every witty one liner there is an unsubstantiated attack or comment with reason or logic; for every intelligent observation there is an inane retweet of a piece of news; and for every fascinating photo of a lovely beach, there’s a completely pointless Foursquare checkin.

Is Twitter a microcosm of the witty, the rude and the checkedin?

Maybe I’m just over it a bit – and maybe that’s not a bad thing, either. It’s become much more of a work tool than something to while away the hours, avoiding the delights of Australian TV over summer.

Mind you, I’m not blaming Twitter the platform itself – I love it. I’ve probably become less patient with people as my time online has become more focused.  Some of the things that get me riled:

  • Spelling and grammar: Too and to. They’re and their. Your and you’re. Not hard. It’s not being precious, it’s about bothering to care. Want me to bother reading a tweet? Pretend to give a toss about making an effort to think about your spelling so the reader will make an effort to read it.
  • Endless retweets: What’s the use of hitting retweet without adding value to it on an issue when it’s likely your followers (who probably share your interests) are seeing the original retweet anyway?
  • Being asked to read a piece: This happens to us a bit on our Armchair Selector account and it puts people in an awkward situation. I have limited time – and it’s easy to add people on a tweet and ask them to read a piece and comment on it. It’s really awkward when people tweet lots of people one after the other asking to be read. If you me want a piece to be read, email me – it’s hardly like the contacts are hard to find. But doing the ‘can you read this?’ smacks of desperation, and you look at the person’s profile and it’s 15,000 tweets for 570 followers. Maybe there’s a reason for the latter number.
  • Making completely out of context whinges: One classic last year. A person didn’t get off a tram or move aside properly and the tweeter said it was (and I’m paraphrasing) like something out of Nazi Germany (it was more brutal). Really? FFS. Unfollow. Twitter isn’t pretty when there is a stream of conscious.
  • Foursquare checkins: I read somewhere about Facebook that the only person interested in your Facebook timeline in you. Same with Foursquare checkins. Who cares? Do you want people to map out your day (train, coffee, office, ah, the sushi place for lunch, gym, Thai for dinner, bus and then home) – and do you think they’ll care – really?
  • Tweets streamed: One person I used to follow who positioned themselves as a social media entrepreneur (as you do…) had a habit of tweeting links and articles out at once – like a dozen – so the tweet stream would magically appear. Was it that scheduling wasn’t working? Didn’t get it, don’t get it, unfollow.
  • Bagging people: I’m all for a bit of debate but there’s a tendency to use Twitter to express yourself when it may be best to chill out.. and yell at the useless umpire-are-you-kidding-me-who-let-you-in-the-team type thing I’ll admit to doing at home (happy marriage = having cricket fan in room alone). I don’t care who you are – why crap on people? Seriously. Example – guy the other day using Twitlonger (not helpful) attacking two good newspaper journos for being somehow mouthpieces of a sporting body. No rationale or reasoning, just said it. Why – because he can. I enjoyed a bit of banter with him, but in a social situation he’d be the kind of bloke you’d inwardly roll your eyes at and try and escape from. A bore.

There are heaps of really good examples of Twitter which I see everyday – and I’m sure you would too – and I’m still a fan – but perhaps the ‘gee-whiz’ of it all has worn off a bit. The platform that gives us witty and funny repartee also provides a conch for a bore with an axe to grind, or another ‘social media expert’ with 118 followers to change the world one tweet at a time.

A byproduct of this has been me spending more time on Google+; I like the postings can be a bit longer; and more and more organisations and people I’d like to really focus on (news, sport, sports business for example) are getting on it. It won’t replace Twitter, but it will leaven it out and ensure I keep focused on what I want to know. Lists on Twitter are one thing, but Google+ seems to be there with its circles. I’ll wait and see.

In the meantime, the great conch grab will continue and the unfollowings will abound.

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