Is Twitter making us all self-centered?

Is Twitter making us all self-centered?

Summary: I made a comment on Twitter this morning about how I don't feel as if I fit in anymore. That wasn't some "woe is me" decree implying that I was going to leave Twitter.


I made a comment on Twitter this morning about how I don't feel as if I fit in anymore. That wasn't some "woe is me" decree implying that I was going to leave Twitter. Perish the thought. It was more of an observation on the way that Twitter has impacted the way people are using it.

It's sad. Some of us early adopters of the service have been screaming for a couple years now about the value of Twitter. It's been recognized, welcomed into the mainstream with open arms, and now almost every company out there is trying to determine how to center Twitter as part of its social media strategy (I am not saying it's right, just saying that it's happening).

The problem with that is... well, my greatest Twitter fear has come true. Twitter is slowly becoming a broadcast vehicle more than an engagement vehicle. It's true that Twitter is great as a news distribution outlet, but really, the first use should be conversational. Sharing information and ideas. If a link comes along, fantastic. If you regularly engage with your network and post out your blogs (I do that), great. But don't use it as only that. And don't use it as a vehicle only to promote your stuff or just talk about your day without asking about what's going on with those in your network. And don't just ask questions and then not engage when your network, answers, either. I could go on... my grandmother (a "Miss Manners" of sorts) would be so proud.

So no, I don't feel like I fit in on Twitter anymore. And it appears based on some of the replies and direct messages I received after I commented whined, I'm not alone.

Don't talk to us. Speak with us. It doesn't matter if you follow back 100 people or 1,000 people, you should genuinely engage. No one -- not even Ashton Kutcher -- should be too far above engaging with his or her network. So why are you?

What do you think? Tell me here or on Twitter.

Topics: Social Enterprise, Networking

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  • What changed?

    I think things changed to this broadcast model when Twitter changed user streams to no longer display replies to users that you're not following. It made it difficult to see and participate in conversations unless you're already following everyone involved.
    • You're right

      I think that's an exceptionally good point. I wish I'd thought of it. There's no newness, not as much discovery now. It's harder to find new friends and have new conversations.
      Jennifer Leggio
      • RE: Is Twitter making us all self-centered?

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  • RE: Is Twitter making us all self-centered?

    I follow 500 people on Twitter, but they are 500 valuable people. I craft my stream by weeding out overly negative people and those who are just blatantly promoting their content to get hits, rather than engage. It does take some effort on the user's part to filter out bad Twitter users, but the more controlled you keep your stream, the happier you'll be :) It's unfortunate that it has to come to this, but everything that goes "mainstream" gets harder and harder to control once the novelty wears off. Just my 2 cents!
  • RE: Is Twitter making us all self-centered?

    My question when I saw your tweet was, "When were we ever NOT self-centered?" *LOL* But seriously, Scrapster, I smell what you're cookin' and agree wholeheartedly.

    Although I've never pretendeded to be anything much beyond an engager in my Twitter experience, it IS becoming more difficult to cut through the noise in order to even HEAR the signal. I make it a point to engage as often and with as many as I can, however all but a few usually return the favor.

    However I'll never feel as if I don't belong on Twitter; I just keep trying to peck away at the outer shell that so many people throw up while they're on there.

    There's still hope if we all make the effort...

    AJ in Nashville
  • What value?

    "Some of us early adopters of the service have been screaming for a couple years now about the value of Twitter."

    What value? It's basically a text version of a cell phone in the hands of a teenager. All talk, all cost, no ROI.
    • Perhaps you are looking at the wrong kind of value

      Although it is true that services that fail to monetize something will eventually fail.

      I think the value under discussion was the exchange of ideas, and community/contact building.
  • RE: Is Twitter making us all self-centered?

    Making us self-centered? No. Encouraging what already exists? Yes.

    Twitter is really just a slow-moving, public chat room. As such, it's going thru the exact same growth/decline (and eventual resurgence) that online chat has.

    In the beginning, it's a way to make connections among a few. As more adopt it, it becomes about networking. When it becomes about networking, it becomes about deriving real (not personal) value--which means it becomes a push medium to broadcast.

    EVERY new media goes thru the same cycle. Because...eventually, the medium moves from a state of "gee whiz, look how cool this is." to "how are we going to make money from this?"

    Eventually, the bills have to get paid. We means people have to sell stuff. Which means they have to BROADCAST that they have stuff to sell.

    It's just the natural evolution of things.

    But by being an early adopter, Jen, you got the wonderful benefit of making real human connections that will last. That will still happen on Twitter for others, but just to a lesser degree than what the first folks experienced.

    It's like the line from the Eagles song "The Last Resort". "They called it Paradise, I don't know why. You call some place Paradise, you're kissing it goodbye."
  • RE: Is Twitter making us all self-centered?

    Just sayin', I've always believed that Eagles lyric is the most brilliant line ever penned to describe our American culture; it certainly applies here with Twitter.
    AJ in Nashville
  • Not Just Twitter

    It's also Facebook, MySpace, Blogger, and all such sites which focus on the importance of the self, with people acting as if every stray thought they have is worth sending out to the world. It's narcissistic, even solipsistic.

    The other half of this sick equation becomes the sheeple who live for the dribbles of ego trickling out into cyberspace from people who live their lives on these social sites.

    Whatever happened to good old one-to-one email communication? Oh no, too personal. Better to see yourself as "important" and start Tweeting.
    • Remember the Question Twitter Poses

      [i]What are you doing?[/i] Not what are you thinking. Not who don't you like. Not what songs are in your playlist or even what are you selling. What are you [i]doing[/i]?

      I made the point to a friend that the model of Twitter is inherently flawed. People who are actively [i]doing[/i] things aren't stopping to post every nuance of it on Twitter, and the people who are on Twitter for hours at a time typically aren't doing anything.

      I find that most of the posts I see now are either someone's attempt to get me to click on a link or a back-and-forth conversation between two or three people. Sadly, many of the conversations aren't fit for public consumption, and I can only assume that narcissism or stupidity is the motivation for people to conduct their private affairs in such a public forum. It's as if people have forgotten that they can still call/email/text their friends outside the Twitter stream.

      A person's value on Twitter is distilled into a simple number (followers) so the race is on to get more and more. Considerations on whether you're connecting with anyone are secondary to attempts to break 100, 1,000, or 100,000 followers. The arrival of celebrities [i]en masse[/i] to the site has only made the followers more important. "Look, I have 340,000 followers but I only follow 12 people, so I must be super important!" C"mon...

      The site has lost its way, no doubt, but hopefully this is an adolescence that it will evolve beyond with proper development and guidance. Those of us who are using the site to keep up with friends and make new ones shouldn't be crowded out by the showmen on the site.
    • Exactly

      All these social sites (Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc) do is facilitate communication. It doesn't [i]create[/i] narcissism, but it can definitely facilitate it if the user chooses to do so. It's up the individual to put it to good use or waste it by posting drivel.
  • Still Trying To Figure Out How To Use Twitter

    I feel part of the issues you raise are related to Twitter's adolescence. Also I feel the tools for Twitter conversation still have a long way to go. As the tools evolve and organizing conversations, topics and memes get easier, true discussions will return. You could also just say it is a phase.

    But definitely follow, follow, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Freindfeed, my blog, when I walk the dog, on iTunes.... :-)

    Thanks for the thoughtful post.
  • RE: Is Twitter making us all self-centered?

    No, it's making us all used car salespeople.
    Marketers suggest we pay them to post our tweets and discussions.
    No conversations here.
  • RE: Is Twitter making us all self-centered?

    Twitter -- like IM, email or even the phone -- is merely a
    tool for communication. How you choose to use (or
    misuse) it is entirely up to you.

    There is nothing intrinsically good or pure about Twitter,
    just as there is nothing intrinsically good or pure about
    those other communication mediums. All of them have
    been and continue to be abused by people and
    organizations who do not really understand the value of
    community and interaction vs broadcasting.

    And why should they? The delivery cost is essentially "free"
    so if they get even a miniscule response rate, they'll keep
    at it. We get spam because (on some level, and to
    someone) spam works.

    Speaking of spam, I'm not to bothered by it anymore. My
    phone number is on the "Do not call" list. Gmail effectively
    auto-detects 99% of all spam I receive. Even my Wordpress
    is spam-free, thanks to Akismet.

    What I'd like to see is similar filtering tools for Twitter. The
    obvious clues are new accounts with very few tweets,
    following hundreds of people (with a much smaller number
    reciprocating). I should be able to dial in my own rules for
    who can follow me so I don't waste my time checking their
    account, only to find that they are promoting god-only-
    knows what.

    We'll get there soon enough.
    Jeff Hester
  • RE: Is Twitter making us all self-centered?

    I agree! "Don?t talk to us. Speak with us. It doesn?t matter if you follow back 100 people or 1,000 people, you should genuinely engage." really good point...It feels like my inbox of tweets is a list of links ONLY...and then retweeted as well...not much time to read everything. That's why I just signed up with seesmic (still trying to learn/set up) but it seems like a good way to have niche twitter accounts...
    1. mainly for news/broadcasts that I can glance down, 2. for thoughtleader stuff, new ideas/CONVERSATION, 3. maybe for genuine questions/networking, 4. personal/friends 5. entertainment/gossip/stories?
    Thx for your thoughts!
    tamora burk
  • RE: Is Twitter making us all self-centered?

    Playing into the self-centered notion, I think it's
    creating an urgency with a lot of topics that doesn't
    need to exist. It seems a lot of people rush to be the
    first to let people know of events (eg. Michael Jackson),
    and what it becomes is a rush of noise. Chances are I'd
    find out about this event without twitter. Possibly 5
    minutes later, which is ok. Instead I need to tune out RT
    after RT of the same not-so-important and urgent events.
    Not everyone needs to report "breaking" news--unless of
    course it's for some ego.
    Matt Soreco
  • RE: Is Twitter making us all self-centered?

    I am new to Twitter I joined almost a year ago, got frustrated after 1 week left for four months and now I am back with a vengeance... Not really but I am enamored with Twitter. I have seen things change in just the last 6 months and I can see how it really has gone to the dogs.

    I have odd people following me trying to sell me things it's almost like being in a "Souk" trying to avoid all the peddlers & beggars from giving me something... anything. Does it mean I will stop using Twitter? No, but I am not longer following just anyone. I actually take the time to see what their previous posts look like, their bio, url, I take my time and watch them for about 1 week. If I see anything odd for example a post that reads (learn how I got 10000 followers in 24 hours) or some other crap then I "immediately" stop following. In conclusion of my rant & rave you are not the only one Jennifer, scoot over I am sitting on the same bench :)
  • How true and interesting

    As a Twitter "outsider", I've been watching this happen, without really thinking about it. The number of news items that have been "on Twitter first" have grown. That's great, but I think you are correct in the assessment that Twitter seems to be less about conversation these days. It's usually not good to see community implode under the weight of some other force, be it news or what have you.

    Slightly off topic, an interesting (I think) post on "How to do social media outreach right"
    Perhaps someone may enjoy it. :)
  • RE: Is Twitter making us all self-centered?

    I'm enjoying Twitter. Feel it is a microcosm of a real community (on steroids). But I digress. Like any community, some will be self-centered and serving, others selfless, many ambivalent. I don't think one can truly put the responsibility of a simple social network for each individuals behavior. A self-centered person is self-centered for a myriad of reasons; have dealt with many of them long before Twitter was in existence. Sincerely, Rick London Londons Times Cartoons @RickLondon on Twitter