As you probably know already, I do love Twitter. And I do love it for a variety of reasons, most of which stem from the original idea behind the service, micro-blogging. I can get stuff off my chest that don’t really fit in a regular blog post and I can do so quick and easy, from basically everywhere. I can get easily digestible pieces of information about topics I care about. I get updates about what people I’m interested in or care about are up to. I get as-it-happens notifications when some page updates or some more or less groundbreaking things happen. And I like that.
Of course I’m aware of the fact that Twitter has grown to be much more than a micro-blogging platform. It’s a social network, in many ways probably not unlike Facebook or MySpace (I can only assume since I’m not active on either of them). People stay in contact, get to know new people, joke around, send links, start memes. And while this of course is a vital part of what makes Twitter so appealing to many as well as something I did profit from in some ways, it also poses a problem for me occasionally.
I’ve seen people using Twitter in a lot of ways. Some walk down the same path I do, some are just plain silly (which can be fun!), some are shameless show-offs and others are basically information-leeches who don’t tweet themselves. All these are people I can perfectly deal with by thinking before following or occasionally even unfollowing, if things get unbearable. The problems arise when the social-network-part of Twitter kicks in.
Since Twitter is so easy and quick to use, some people I follow, and who follow each other, use it more along the lines of an instant messenger, using @repiles. And I can see the appeal. You don’t have to be on the same network and you can use it basically everywhere, on any computer,on your phone or wherever. There has been quite some fuss in the twitterverse lately when Twitter decided that you as a user can only see @replies from people you follow when they are directed to someone you follow as well (there is also the possibility of using direct messages that only the two conversing parties can see). People strongly opposed that change, seeing that being able to see all those replies might spark your interest in the other party and thus introduce you to another person to follow.
You probably already see where this is headed: While I see the point of the people opposing the @replies change, they probably don’t follow many IM-over-Twitter users.
I’m not following that many people. Some celebrities to satisfy my stalker needs, some news services (and I apply this tag generously) and some people whose opinions on certain topics I cherish a lot. And of course, due to my focus on specific interests, quite some of those people follow each other as well. And some of those, you guessed it, do ‘chat’ a lot among each other. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a reason why I followed these people in the first place and that reason didn’t disappear all of a sudden. They are people I hold dear, people I have never met, yes, but like very much. I love my tweeps. But what I also love is all I stated in the first paragraph of this post. And the sound you’re hearing right now is two worlds colliding.
You see, Twitter isn’t like an e-mail inbox where I can decide which mails to read directly and which to save for later or even discard. Tweets are there, unfiltered, unmarked. and waiting to be read one after the other (Yes, I know there are many applications that deal with this issue, but I can’t use them every place I use Twitter, so that doesn’t really solve my problem). And while I occasionally like to witness conversations about whatever topic between my tweeps, most of the time I really just want to get my quick fix on news, updates and sillies, without having to actually search for them among dozens of tweets that don’t really concern me.
So, to bring this rant to an end, some of my tweeps will notice a -1 on the number of their followers in the near future and that will be me unfollowing you. It’s not personal, and I already prepared a different means to stay in touch for those that care to do so. But I just like my Twitter like my women, easily manageable and not too chatty.