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On Social Networkation: Twitter

May 31, 2011

Twitter is so much noise.

What Twitter should be is a continuous, ongoing roundup of little glimpses of what’s out there on the Internet, and one’s “following” list should really be a highly curated and cultivated list of interests that she is interested in staying current in. The inevitable result of this noble ideal would be an ongoing, deafening chatter regarding a thousand matters, usually all important in their own way.

I’m so glad for the people and organizations I discovered through Twitter, but I’m deeply troubled by the larger-than-life personas that emanate in a way unique to this medium. (Including my own. My tweets can be smoldering. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.) I have no problem going up to someone at a party and telling them I love their blog or podcast or video blog. But introducing myself as a Twitter follower? Bleurgh. #dweebiness

However many thousands of followers one has on Twitter and “likes” one has on Facebook, it’s not the account itself that should constitute the person’s presence. And the more one remains in awareness of this, the less likely they are to get sucked into the “social media as an endgame” fallacy. It’s not a consciously preached fallacy, but the message does get internalized because the process of using social media can get so addictive. And just because it is addictive doesn’t mean we should lose sight of what we really signed up for.

Content discovery is always good, but not as good if the medium is becoming yet another a means of superficial social engagement. And when one’s happiness meter (okay, my happiness meter) is gauged by the number of new followers one has, what more is it than the horrifying self-anesthetized dream in the artificial world of liking that Jonathan Frazen describes so aptly?

Maybe there’s some magical ideal ratio between the amount of time spend on Twitter itself and the amount of new content a user discovers. Perhaps I can discover that magical equation and then tweak my Twitter use accordingly.

Challenge accepted!

I shall report back on this, but probably only if I succeed.

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