Is Twitter dead? No, but it’s not quite alive, either. It used to feel like a yacht party. It was delightfully obnoxious, like a champagne cork hitting you in the eye. Now it feels more like the fifth or sixth day at Jesse Pinkman’s marathon house party.
Chalk it up to three little technical “innovations” designed to “improve” matters.
The Retweet Button
This was introduced when Twitter was still alive and well. Before that, you had to manually retweet with an “RT” in front of the retweeted tweet. This encouraged adding something in front of it as a response in the same tweet. Your followers could see the context of your reply that way. This in turn encouraged more lively interaction.
You can still manually retweet, but most people just hit the retweet button and call it a day. That’s more boringer.
The Favorite Button
That’s been there for a long time, but people didn’t use it as much as they do today. Part of the reason for this change is that you are now notified when someone favorites your tweet. People treat it like a Facebook “like” button. It serves the function of acknowledging that you read someone’s tweet. It fills a psychological need.
Before favorite notifications, you had to do more than just click a button to acknowledge someone; you had to actually interact with people. This forced you to come up with something to say in return, which led to more interaction.
Better Spam Reduction Procedures
I don’t know about you, but I used to get a lot more spam in my Twitter feed. My hunch is that Twitter has improved its anti-spam procedures. Spam used to be the common enemy we could all agree to hate. It was rampant. Whenever we were lost for words, we could always bitch about the spammers. This brought us all closer together in a whiny little kinship, breaking the ice for further complaining about things. It was fun to be vocally annoyed at all the spam.
I have all but quit Facebook, but that seems to be where the party went off to. Yet Facebook feels oppressive to me somehow, and I’m trying to slowly back away from online communication altogether, to force myself to rediscover the real world in a way that is becoming increasingly rare in our time. That backing-off process may take months or years, but for now I’m using Twitter to fill the mental and emotional gap Facebook used to fill. Maybe it’s a good thing Twitter ain’t all that anymore. It’ll help me get outta here sooner.
Moral of the story: Sometimes innovation is just some developer’s way of justifying a paycheck. It ain’t always good for business.
Image via Paul Jackson