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No matter the medium - some people can't help themselves but revert to shouting

posted by Alex Hens
11 May 2009

If you’re a twitterer or read blogs of people who are you’ll almost certainly have come across posts where people try and explain why they’re on it, what they get from it, how they interact with it and suggestions as to how you might benefit similarly. Of course the beauty of any “established” or emerging social media platform is that “whatever works for you is great – if it doesn’t, then that’s fine too”. But one thing I find odd is the number of people who look to remove people who haven’t tweeted in a while (there are of course tools to see who from those you’re “following” haven’t tweeted in a while so you can conduct your cull with ease) – because I’m quite the opposite. I’d describe myself as quite a picky “follower” in that whilst others seem to try and build as big a following as possible through following as many as possible (not sure if it’s ego fueled or what - certainly I can't keep abreast of nearly 200 people), I generally, on coming across a new person (more often than not after they’ve followed me – more often than not just clearly just to get the follow back), I look at their profile and previous tweets to see if it looks like they have interesting things to say or a relevancy to my interests. If they are too busy or feel they’ve not got anything they want to tweet about then that’s fine – I don’t think that makes them any less worthy of my attention should they come back online at some later point. In my experience it often makes the comments they make when coming back on-tweet more considered &/or interesting What I do stop following people for though is when they just flood you with “tweets” – because for me Web2.0, of which Twitter is very much a now established part of the stable, is about facilitating conversation & engagement. It is not about being another broadcast medium – the mechanism of shouting your message(s) hoping something sticks. I completely concede the beauty of the medium is that each person can find what works for them, but at the same time I think that some people are missing the very reason for the medium aren’t they? I mean just because technology enables streaming of “relevant content” you’ve come across to be fired off like a gattling gun across the day turns any personal thought or connection at best to a background noise and at worst to something I’ll miss altogether as I screen you out or turn you off. And stopping that shouting to reply to the odd tweet doesn’t make it a conversation. I’m not sure about delusions of grandeur, but I think an increasing number of twitterers have ‘delusions of publisher’. Now I’m almost certainly not target audience for many of these people and if I was then I’d possibly see things differently (or understand) – but I reckon there are only a select bunch who have enough personality or insight to continue what is largely a one way conversation over a two way medium (ala Wossy, Stephen Fry or Russell Brand), for the rest I’m afraid it seems to me to be one side of the room shouting at the other side. It will of course work itself out – as these things do in nature and at lightening speed on t’internet. I’m after personality in the tweets I follow, so if you’re shouting other people’s news you can keep your inflated following figures with one less amongst that number – if you’re saying anything particularly original or worth listening to then maybe someone in our shared network will be compelled to re-tweet what you're saying and I’ll pick it up then. Maybe.