Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I don’t like Twitter

By Joe Moore

I don’t like Twitter. I know, I know, it’s the latest craze in shorthand communication on the Internet and by cell phone. And a bazillion people are joining ever hour. And you can “follow” your family and friends and famous people instantly.

But I don’t like it.

twitter Before I tell you why, let me explain what Twitter is for those that have been living in a mountain top monastery in Tibet and are excited that they are only now getting push button phones.

Twitter is a simple means of communicating between anyone and everyone. You type a description of what you’re doing right now such as what you had for breakfast, what color you painted your garage floor, what you thought of Adam on American Idol, whatever is on your mind, then share your tweet with your friends. Here’s the catch: you must deliver your message using 140 characters or less. The Twitter system sends your “tweet” to all your “followers” which are anyone that signed up on Twitter and then chose to “follow” you. And you get to see the tweets of those that you are following.

Twitter relies on cell phones for much of its interaction hence the 140-character rule. That’s about the limit of most mobile phone text messages. You also get your own special webpage to post your tweets and see the tweets of those you’re following.

The goal of Twitter is to make it easy for you and other tweeters to post and update their status from anywhere, anytime. So like their coffee in the morning, many tweeters post their first tweet while waiting for their Chock Full O’ Nuts to finish brewing. And there’s a lot of tweeters who make it a point to wish everyone goodnight as the head off to Dream Weaver Land. In between wakeup and lights out, you’re bound to read rants, raves, rehashes, relishes, and restaurant recommendations along with every other activity in a tweeter’s life.

There’s a Twitter-style shorthand—not quite as BFF-cryptic as cell phone text messaging, but almost. It takes a bit of getting used to, but you catch on quickly. And because you are limited to 140 characters, it’s created a cottage industry for long-character URL conversion to short-form at sites like TinyURL. That way, if you want to include a link in your tweet to some cool website, you can convert the address to a shorter form that saves on characters.

There are a couple of things you need to know before you start twittering. The system seems to crash often. This is because another bazillion members just signed up. So you’ll get errors and strange page configurations throughout the day. In order to see the latest tweets, you have to “refresh” your browser window. This gets old fast. And then there’s the question, If someone follows you, should you follow them back? If you don’t, is that considered an insult? You can also “unfollow” someone. This of course is the ultimate punch in the gut to your estranged followee. Tough love.

So, why do I not like Twitter? Because it’s usually more interesting than anything I’m doing at any given time, and I don’t have the willpower to turn it off and get back to what I do: write books. I don’t like Twitter or the people who invented it or the people who follow me or the people I follow or the people that I will start following today. I have a lot more to say on this subject but I have to run update my Twitter status. Happy tweets!

How about you. Do you love Twitter or, like me, hate it? It is a way to fill in the gaps of your life or is it a total waste of time? Please limit your answer to 140 characters (or more).

Coming up on our Kill Zone Guest Sundays, watch for blogs from Sandra Brown, Steve Berry, Robert Liparulo, Paul Kemprecos, Linda Fairstein, Oline Cogdill, James Scott Bell, and more.


  1. I always have something outside that needs my attention. Frankly I don't care what everyone is having for breakfast, what they are watching on TV, or ate for dinner. Due to my forwarding jokes and political cartoons to people on my address book, I have finally alienated most of the people I used to get daily e-mails from, which means I have less cute kid or kitten videos arriving and more time to take care of what I actually need to be doing.

    In the way MTV fast change destroyed the attention span of generations, Twitter is another evolution in the destruction of the ability to communicate meaningfully.

  2. Joe,

    There must be sunspots today, or something. Yours is the third blog I've read so far, mine included, that, um, twalks about Twitter (and I just woke up).

    For me, the jury's still out. I think I need to either dive in and do it more (to see what it's really like), or just give up and put away my Tweetdeck (become a Twitter-Quitter).

    A word about TinyURLs. While they are cute, I dislike the fact they contain no clue for where they take you. (Fair warning, this one taks you to my blog entry today about Twitter:

  3. Mmm, I'm working on an article about Twitter and healthcare so I reluctantly signed up to have my own first-hand experience (yesterday) and so far I'm, "This is sort of annoying." We'll see, though.

  4. Twitter feels like the LA Coliseum filled to capacity and everyone's talking at once, and if you wander the aisles you'll get snippets of conversation, some good, some bad. Or you can stick to your section and get to know people there (Tweetdeck lets you sort this out) and then, like Joe says, it's a matter of how much time you spend.

    Some people seem to live on Twitter. I try to give myself a clocked time limit, then get to work. I was wary of it at first, but have come to enjoy it.

    For new writers, I can see it as a step toward showing a publisher you're creating a "platform." It's fairly easy to do. You have to give it some attention, but not as much as, say, a blog.

    Other benefits. I've met some interesting people I wouldn't have otherwise. I've had my name and books mentioned favorably by several of them to their "followers", resulting in, I guess, "word of Tweet."

  5. I'm way behind the times. I haven't even checked it out yet. I'm still in the thinking about signing up for facebook phase. I've been putting it off to actually do some writing.

  6. Here's a funny video that sums up the twitter experience.

  7. There is no good reason for Twitter to exist. It promotes mindless chatter, not active listening. A bad habit too many have already. I intend to leave this earth as I entered it – Twitter-free. It’s bad enough my editor pushed me onto Facebook. BTW, I had shredded wheat for breakfast. (201 characters – damn!)

  8. Joe
    I joined twitter and then promptly did nothing about it. I feel like John, there are too many distractions and demands on my time as is and if I haven't felt inclined to use twitter that says something - subconsciously I'm just not interested! There seems to be too much inane chatter in the world - more deep meaningful conversation would be a blessing and frankly I'd rather spend more time writing dialogue for my characters than tweeting!

  9. Then perhaps you should stop Twittering. Unless of course you like doing things you dislike.

  10. I love a post that can generate strong emotions and feedback. This topic is proving to be a good one. Thanks to all for your comments. I think my friend, Sue Ann, said it best, "There is no good reason for Twitter to exist." And John M. did a great job of putting these "social networking" fads into perspective.

    For some it may help to build that writer's platform we've discussed before, but the reality is most will only use it as a convenient distraction from the real job at hand: writing.

    There are some authors on Twitter that seem to be making a career of it. I don't know how they get any real writing done. But as it says in Corinthians, This to shall pass. The scary part is what will take it's place?

    Thanks again, everyone.

  11. I use Twitter as a pointer to this blog--simply to let people know that an interesting conversation is going on over here. I try to catch someone's interest and route them over here as a reader. I guess that means I'm using Twitter in a calculating and self-promoting way. If I couldn't do that, I wouldn't use Twitter at all, lol.

  12. Twitter seems a bit hard for me to focus on. Too much random senseless data and conversations butting up against each other all at once.

    James hit right on my thoughts. Walking through a crowd hearing snippets. When someone is following hundreds of people and they all post just once a day there is no possible way to keep up with it all.

    Do any of them really see my little announcement about something new going on in Basildom?

    Do they really care that I put my lunch strawberries in a container previously used by crushed garlic and suffered the resultant taste in my mouth?

    Will they tweetback?

    I think that those who limit tweets in their lives, thereby not destroying their attention span so fast, will be the next rulers of the world. While everyone else feeds on the mush of tweets & facebook like brain stabbed matrix pod-people.

  13. I'm one of those people who really don't have a grasp of what Twitter is.

    From what you described, it sounds addictive, and I so don't need another addiction....writing, chocolate, reading blogs, that's about all I can handle right now.

    Guess I'll be a non-Twit? LOL

  14. Twitter is the "jump the shark" moment in social networking.

    I'm not even interested in what I do - why would anyone else be?

  15. I notice that Facebook is giving Twitter a run for its money with a new app that is Twitter-like; like Twitter, it asks "What are you doing right now?". In my opinion Facebook's version is better than Twitter's because it displays a graphical snippet of the destination of the URL you point to, if you include one. For example, if I point to this blog in my Facebook status, it displays a little visual of the blog. This is the first thing I've seen on Facebook that I've actually liked.

  16. Twitter waste billions of money to advertise itself , but most of the Europeans just dont use it. Why should?

  17. Facebook all the way.....Twitter....boring

  18. I'm on Twitter, but somehow it doesn't work for me...I'm not sure how to use it in a way that is enjoyable or interesting to me. Every once in awhile I try again and look at the people I'm following, but still don't quite get it.