The Death of Twitter


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This morning, Twitter died for me. Services are pending; memorials may be sent to your favorite blogging platform.
The frequent unreliability of the Twitter server (it was down again today for over an hour) underscores its irrelevance as a social networking platform, which should not only empower people to exchange ideas and develop meaningful networks, but should be reliable enough so that this process is not interrupted. Twitter absolutely fails on both counts.

I was a late-comer to Twitter, thinking that it alternately looked boring, yet also served to feed society’s constant infatuation with celebrity, transparency, and self-importance. But after a colleague chastised me for not using it, I relented because at second glance it did look sort of fun and quirky.
The fun and quirkiness has now worn off in less than two months.
I usually love my professional association with the World Wide Web, as well as my other daily and everyday civilian work online, because I continue to marvel at how the Web can enhance my life, networks, knowledge, and ability to communicate. Google is a prime example; Facebook is also very intriguing, though it certainly has its faults and detractors. But Twitter proves to just be stupid after a trial of a few weeks.
Twitter reduces your ability to communicate to 140 character burps. So no matter what your big idea is, the only way to communicate it on Twitter is to abuse the system by posting in a series. And then, the result is your Twitter bandwidth— which is supposed to be a rich tapestry of pithy comments from your entire network— is dominated by some tech guy’s lengthy description of his ongoing mortgage transaction. Or arriving late at their conference, and having nothing to do because they’re bored, stuck in their hotel room.
As Twitter gradually wasted more and more of my time for a few weeks, I realized that it was nothing but a record of lots of people wasting each others’ time. It is the poetry of the inane, stealing from your real life that is otherwise physical as well as online, and— momentarily— making you think that short lines about your life are worth sharing. But they only serve to distract you from real living (and that is when Twitter is working which, again, is sporadic).
I became particularly alarmed the other week when I did one of my random but somewhat routine Googlings of myself. Shockingly, Google loves Twitter entries (they must be coded nice and clean), and they rise to the top of the data stream about you like a loud burst of flatulence, obscuring the real you in a distracting haze of dumb comments that you once thought were funny or interesting in the context of Twitter. But are oh so stupid now, as you imagine other people Googling you and reading, “Having coffee and muffin while it is below zero outside”.
In fact, the metaphor of Twitter being a juvenile way of communicating is probably right on. It’s only funny or meaningful (ever so slightly, that is) in context, like silly kids talking to each other in their own abbreviated code and in a private conversation. I suppose for some people, this works. But trying to make sense of all of these happening simultaneously, on your screen, is maddening and does the opposite of what the Web’s best tools do; rather than enriching life, it cheapens it to the point of drivel.
So I’ll stick with blogging…which, all too often, can still feel like a waste of time, too. But at least it allows me to develop an idea, is a focused activity that enriches my life in a variety of ways, and is a better reflection of who I really am.


4 thoughts on “The Death of Twitter

  1. Wow, Kris. I’m surprised and a bit saddened. Hate to lose a tweet friend.
    Twitter’s unreliability is partly due to the phenomenal growth of the platform. It’s hard for them to keep up. There is venture money behind them though so that part will be worked out. Eventually there will have to be a business model. Who knows what that will be.
    As for “irrelevance as a social networking tool” well, you’re just wrong on that one. Twitter’s open API is creating all sorts of mashups and Twitter allows for subscribing via just about every IM client and via cell phone. I predict that you and just about everybody else will be on Twitter by 2009.(Well I suppose you might get really stubborn and hold out.)
    Your characterization of Twitter wasting everyone’s time is interesting. I like to chat with people in the real world but if I recorded all the chats and played them back for you, I don’t think they would sound any less time-wasting than Twitter. Twitter just globalizes it.
    I’ve made wonderful connections and discoveries via Twitter and have found it useful for calling out for technical help. I also find Twitter to be an excellent news source. I subscribe to BBC and Reuters.
    Just to balance your post a bit, here’s a pro-twitter item.
    Kris, your tweets will be missed and you’re always welcome to return to the Twitter fold.

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