I’m going to begin by offering my opinion on the myth of Twitter’s inanity. You may well sit back and say “But Sam, I’ve seen Twitter, and I don’t care about what I’ve seen.” Fine, but that’s not the issue here. The issue is that it seems whenever old media brings up Twitter they have two options.
Call it inane and useless new media
Refer to the celebrities’ use of it, as if that is its only life-force.
What’s worse is that it is often referred to as inferior to Facebook, because of its supposed mundanity. If that is your line of argument, seriously consider re-reading your friend’s Facebook statuses. There is a reason you find them interesting, but I’ll get to that in a second. Objectively, however, they are just as banal as the worst exponent of Twitter. So, in response to David Dale at the Sydney Morning Herald, quoted below, I have a few thoughts and rhetorical questions for us to consider.
“It was the year when Twitter came and went – a fad formed in February and dropped in December, proof that this is the land of the short attention span… Telling the world everything you’re doing every minute is just not amusing any more. Rose has reached an epiphany: that when you have nothing interesting to say, there is no need to say anything. If Australia’s answer to Paris Hilton decides she couldn’t give a Twit, the rest of the partygoing community cannot be far behind… Rose delivered the death blow.” – Twittering is for boring old farts
Dale then goes on to compare Twitter to a scene from Back to the Future II, where feeds of information spew out from outlets all over the house. He seems to think this is laughable but honestly, in a society where I get my news from my TV, desktop computer, laptop and iPhone, is it really wise to ridicule that information might come from multiple sources?
I won’t even begin to get into the irony of the article itself. I read about it on Twitter, not in the paper. There’s some depth to that beyond the pretentious chuckle it may insight. The depth comes from the fact that if Twitter is this inane stream of pointless information, a trend which has lost its steam, then why is this news? It has been proven time and time again that people not on Twitter are either blindly critical of it, or not interested in the slightest. The piece itself can only exist as a puff piece, because those who care know it is false, and those who don’t care, what’s the point?
For those who are not involved, the inputs to your twitter feed (or, in a friendlier way, people you choose to follow) are chosen by you. If you choose boring people who tweet nothing but breakfast, you will get nothing but breakfast. Criticism of this aspect is like turning on the cooking channel and complaining that no-one is covering the war in Iraq. The reasons someone is worth following on twitter come down to one basic fact: Do you care what they have to say? It is for this reason that I don’t follow Ruby Rose, nor care about whether she has left the site. To quote her departure as being a sign of the death of Twitter is like saying Morning Television is done with now that Bert Newton has retired. I love Bert, but are we really so naive to turn around and say that an entire form of communication is characterised by the involvement of its most famous players? If so, I fear for the Australian Chamber Orchestra’s mortality when they lose Richard Tognetti and who knows what’s going to happen when Bill Gates and Steve Jobs retire? I guess we’ll go back to pen and paper. To drive the point further home, when have you EVER opened a newspaper and found every article interesting to you on an individual level? What is it again about people in glass houses?
For those journalists about to write an article about the death (or even the triumph) of twitter, here’s a tip. If you come into it as an eavesdropper you will find no value. Twitter is a conversation between many people who choose to interact. In addition, it is a news source which is customisable. Additionally, if what you have to say is worth saying, you will gain more followers who CHOOSE to follow you. My favourite blog is abduzeedo, a wonderful design collection online which publishes links to new articles through twitter. They would not get a space in old media, yet with Twitter, I am able to follow them. This is the beauty of the medium, the customisable interaction between sources of news, be they friends or major outlets. At the end of the day, the only solid argument against community newsfeeds is that of credibility. To be honest, the majority of people could hear a story on the news, but if their best friend told them a different version, they’d probably go with theirs. It’s nice to consider that everybody believes what they hear because of ‘reputation’ but to be honest, if reputation has told me anything it’s ‘don’t believe The Telegraph because of bias’ and now, ‘don’t believe The Herald because of anachronism.’ You may not agree with me, and if you don’t, you don’t have to; THAT is the beauty of where we’re at.
There are other reasons to follow someone but here are the two that matter:
They provide quality material which interests you.
They provide material which interests you because of the source.