Personal Conversation Fail Whale
I have a love-hate relationship with Twitter. I love being able to get lots of information in a short amount of time, and I love the personal connection I feel with some authors/celebrities who tweet (who tweet well, with cool pictures or insights and not just PR junk.) I love keeping track of some organizations or friends who crack me up in 140 characters or less.
What I don’t love is the amount of “noise” that Twitter seems to have. I don’t understand how anyone reads Tweets without Tweetdeck or some other organizer. And I worry about anyone who follows more than 300 or so people – how is it possible to have any sort of meaningful connection?
Part of what contributes to the “noise” for me is the replies to other people. If the other person isn’t someone I follow, then I see a tweet from someone with no context. If it seems compelling, then I end up kind of backtracking and seeing the replied-to person’s tweets and see what they said. Usually, its not worth my time. And then I start to wonder, if I can’t follow the conversation, why are people tweeting this stuff in the first place?
Why tweet instead of DM (direct message)? Or send an email instead or an IM? I had an interesting and weird conversation over Tweet, IM and in person with a colleague. I tweeted that I was reading a book, and then she tweet-replied, asking my opinion. I gave it (through tweet) because I thought it made sense in context – I mean, I tweeted about something, and then a few minutes later I explained why I liked it. Then, the person Instant Messaged me about something work related. We spoke. Then, in the break room, we mentioned our tweets and expanded the conversation.
It seemed normal enough when it was happening, but why did we have this conversation on so many mediums? If she wanted to know what I thought of the book, why did she choose to ask me publicly? (Which begs the question – why do I feel the need to tell the entire internet when I read a book?) Please believe me when I say that none of this is a critique of my colleague – I am just as guilty of it as times, and I wonder if it is something to even be guilty of. Why do we feel the need to have a conversation “publicly”? Do we want people to know we are discussing something – even if its totally inconsequential? Does the world need to know I have a strong opinion on Step Up 2 The Streets? Isn’t it annoying to see me update my status to reply to someone else, who you don’t even know to congratulate her on going to the gym?
I find myself going nuts sometimes, because I want to respond to someone, but I don’t want everyone else to know what I am saying – and I can’t DM because they don’t follow me. Or maybe direct messaging just feels too personal in an impersonal medium. Is what I want to say worth saying? Would an email be better -or god forbid, a phone call?
I think sometimes Twitter is just too public for me. And I gather that’s what most people like about it.