Twitterpolemic

19 06 2009

There has been much written recently regarding the etiquette of Twitter;  what is the generally accepted thing to do in terms of who to follow, and whether wanting big follow numbers is just a superficial reflection of a, heretofore, unacknowledged, post-pubescent,  high-school need to be popular. It strikes me that, with the millions of people now taking advantage of the “twitterverse” (a word which in some circles might bring you scorn were you to use it), it would be ludicrous to attempt to impose such regimental boundaries and values on the wide-ranging, culturally, ethnically and geographically diverse group of users that Twitter represents.

I have ardently followed many of the recent  Twitter news blogs and articles and the most outstanding leit-motif amongst them seems to be a need to stand out from the masses – a not uncommon phenomenon in mass media. Articles delineating why the author chose to unfollow thousands of people, articles berating people for playing the big “follow” game, and articles giving advice about who to follow and not follow depending on, of all things, their avatar or their bio (ie. If it says Location: Planet Earth then don’t follow).

In most circumstances the Twitter elite are categorized by the fact that they have a lot of followers without having to follow too many people back, if any. Why does this make them elite? It relies on pre-Twitter norms of societal judgment – celebrity. And yet, we should aspire to better things with a communication tool such as Twitter. The currently accepted norm is: You are elite if you don’t have to work hard to get people to follow you and you don’t even have to really acknowledge those followers by returning the favour of following them.

One would hope that with the trans-ethnic, trans-gender and trans-border reach of Twitter, we would be able to establish a new definition of importance. The very world “elite” itself invokes a colonialism and class-distinction whose time came and went in the 1800’s and yet still excludes people whose ideas and words we dismiss simply because they aren’t Oprah or AplusK.  Do we really have a dialogue with these so-called Twitter elite? I think, rather, we just serve as their serfs in on-going publicity wars.

Yes, I am one of those people who follows a lot of people in order to gain followers. Why has this suddenly become anathema to good Twitter manners? Are we perpetuating a new form of snobbism by suggesting that all of our followers aren’t really worthy of following back? Granted, some aren’t worth the time of day,  but methinks they count in the lower percentage. I follow back a lot of people because I would like to have a greater reach for my conversation, interaction, and, yes, influence. That being influence in terms of socio-political ideas not mass-marketing of some ridiculous software programme that will make millions of untold income for the poor sods who purchase it.

In any case, I strongly believe that all of the scolding Twitter users are receiving on a regular basis regarding how they should behave  is no more than another venue for some people to differentiate themselves from the masses. If we followed their advice and cut out the bulk of our followers or only followed the so-called elite or those with acceptable avatars,  we would severely limit the reaches of our conversations through a media that begs for, and whose very purpose is  greater global outreach.

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3 responses

23 06 2009
Mr.Ryder

Okay this whole its a media and twitter revolution has gotta stop its the peoples revolution Twitter is dare i say a ripp off of what we wanted to create witch was OPM= Our Planet Peace People matter right now we need all people to be peacefull we ask all people globally to chant OPM=Our Planet Peace People Matter this is a common citizin’s concept by the people for the people we want a better future today not tommorrwo http://amfix.blogs.cnn.com/2009/06/23/gibbs-defends-obamas-stance-on-iran/comment-page-1/#comment-24814
read the comments on this sight its one of the reacent reasponces i got back from president Obama? Our Planet Peace People Matter iran please remeber this adn spread the word to stop all chaos and use the oppertunitie to create something good globally. A wise man once said truth is still truth even if its not known. dont fear death dont fear power dont even fear knowledge embrace wisdom and knowledge we have a reasonable solution to help all our planet manicipalities if we are givin the oppertunity perhaps all could know how. follow on twitter adn facebook peace and love to all lets create a better future today for all tommrowo “together we stand devided we fall common now people lets get on the ball and work together” george theorgood please people peace ful deminstrations is the outcome you need. even the police need to be aware of the egotistical materialistical reality we live they should be standing with all of you and all of you people should be out side your own governments house and if you cant talk or walk then stand but dont stop standing till they are prepared to listin to the people and work for the people thats how it should be done.

23 06 2009
Michelle Matthews

Thank you for your comments. I will check out the URL you suggested.

13 02 2010
Cody_K

For me… following less than 700 people is just more manageable. Not to establish an “elite” status in relation to how many follow me.

Once the amount of people I follow began to goes over 700 or 750… my friends timeline would fly by too quickly and I’d end up missing a lot of good information or more people felt slighted that I perhaps didn’t see their tweets when they knew I was logged in and present. Especially during busier portions of the day.

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