This post contains explicit language and wicked humour, but justified, so if you are allergic to either, please read something else.
Twitter is all about false narcissism and acceptance, together in one package. The shallowness that comes with tweeting will be the reason it will be just a fad. As for its real communication value, that will simply be pushed aside by the next decent technological communication a short time a dozen these days. I give it two years’ max (possibly end of 2010 even) before it becomes thought of on the same term as land lines — still useful to many, but just only when the newer alternatives are inaccessible. Quantitatively, that’s a traffic ranking worse than 1,000 where a good online newspaper sits these days.
Seems the world is all a-Twitter these days. The site is mentioned everywhere. Everyone is trying to get on to it and incorporate it into their lives, business, communications plans, etc. It’s #74 on the Alexa.com traffic rankings at the time of this posting after a meteoric rise (click on the link to see Twitter’s ranking and history in playing around with a few options).
But a lot of people still don’t get it! What is the big deal with Twitter?
Well, there’s not really a big deal. It’s a fad that has some relative longevity compared to other recent technological fads, but ultimately, it’s a fad, and here’s why after a quick primer for those not familiar with Twitter, or who might not have thought about the psychology in it.
Twitter is basically free mass text messaging, 140 characters max at a time. You send it to everybody who signed up to “follow” you. There is a “personal” option to text individuals who follow you or who you signed up to follow. You don’t need permission to do either, unlike Facebook’s “Friend Request” where someone has to approve your request. This is the major difference to other most other social networking in existence and a key part why Twitter is successful. You can block people you don’t want following you. However, given the number of strangers lots of people have following them that they don’t care about and just let be, they can’t really prevent someone following them cause that person just creates some strange account and they’ll be able to follow you. Effective screening basically means you have to be relatively anti-social media, and that’s not often done with Twitter. People even sign up to follow others they don’t know just to see what they’re like, based on something or rather that whimmed them to do so. How else would you account for porn starlet Tiffany Mynx deciding to follow me on Twitter one day… even though it didn’t last long as by the time I knew it, she was gone.
The way Twitter allows users to organize themselves gives users two things which comes down to the best of cliques. That’s cliques, like groups of friends snobby to those outside them, not clicks like mouse technology. You have your own clique with those who follow you, and you belong to pretty much any other clique you like, including those of famous people who Twitter. Essentially, Twitter is hundreds of millions of cliques, and you can belong to any, removing the entry barrier cliques are known for as part of their identity. They are only still cliques because each user, including yourself, has one that nobody else can belong to until they sign up to join. Twitter gives you, the common person, both, narcissism and acceptance, all in one!
Imagine that! Narcissism and acceptance, in one thing! Where are you going to get something like that?
Answer? Nowhere. And that’s why Twitter won’t last long. It’s an illusion and people will either find a better solution or come to realize this, and abandon it.
That’s not people as a group per se. That’s people as to each his/her own. It’s about people moving away in any direction they choose, not a group migration to another common destination.
Twitter’s illusion of narcissism comes in the form that your clique isn’t real. They’re all following tons of other people on Twitter and unless you are really someone lots of people should listen to, you’re not all that important to them, either. And if you were, well, you wouldn’t need Twitter… and you won’t need it if the people aren’t there to follow you. Your clique is only real in your mind that your tweets mean something to them, whether all or just one. Even if you realize it’s the latter and it’s true most of the time in your case, it’s still narcissism to have it appear on everyone else’s board. True they did sign up to follow you, but it’s more the concept in the user’s mind rather than the logistics of how it came to be.
Twitter’s illusion of acceptance is based on false hope, not the kind that springs eternal, aka the type President Barack Obama is talking about. People let you into their clique, and you get to all these “personal messages” from them to the clique. It’s like being in the clique of that girl or boy whose clique you once wanted to be in and hearing them tell everybody something, except it’s via text and you don’t even hear their beautiful voice. Not yet, at least. Twitter might make it to voice one day if they can get it on fast enough before they die out. You are in that clique for the same reasons you wanted to be in those old cliques, so you can tell others about it, feel like you’re in their world and maybe even have some communication with that boy or girl, with other things being beyond that first hope.
In Twitter, though, the first is nothing to brag about. If it mattered that much to me that you followed Ashton Kutcher’s Twitter feed, I could do the same. Ashton is trying to get 1 million followers before CNN does, by the way, current at 987,795 followers. Yeah. He really cares about you! That shallowness is the perfect example why Twitter will pass as a fad. Being in his world will just expose you to all those things you never dreamed about him in your vision of what he’s like. Finally, the chances you’ll get a tweet in response to yours… if he’s even following you, is a far longer shot than you’ll ever had with talking to that girl or boy once upon a time. He’s following all of 73 people, by the way. Um, can you say narcissism? Can you feel the love? But credit due, he’s at least honest as he can’t follow 987,795 people.
Note to Twitter, you could make it even more popular you’d let people become even more shallow so Ashton can follow all those people in return, but prioritize things so he only gets tweets from those 73 without any of his followers ever knowing. They can then brag Ashton’s following them in return to them following Ashton!
As for why people follow those with massive cliques, they hold out hope someone like Ashton might send them something one day, in a lottery mentality as I call it. However, with time, they will lose interest. It isn’t hard to get bored with something so impersonal as tweeting. Other tweets and something real in life is all it takes. Then the followers will go to someone else, and so on and on. But that might be it. It won’t take long before the game grows old.
Ultimately, you might just keep Twitter for a convenient communication means with your real life friends and family, but there are better ways of doing that, even. All this social media will grow tiresome to your fingers and suddenly, something like a phone call, or video call by then, might just seem very pleasant and refreshing. Everything you do with Twitter will be more possible and convenient with some other technology, even the ones today like a cell phone, and like many of the birds today, Twitter will become an endangered species. Quantitatively, that’ll be outside of the top 1000 websites so like a good (not great) online American “newspaper” source these days. Sadly, I can give Twitter a longer grace period than many of the birds out there today, but I’m going to go conservative and say 2 years max.
That’ll be April 2011, but officially, I’ll go for December 31, 2010.
Enjoy your life, Twitter! And try not to die bitter!
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 8.0
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