Clarifying Two Things About Twitter
Earlier this week I wrote about deleting my Twitter lists. Not surprisingly, this attracted a fair bit of attention. As a result, I wanted to clarify two things.
Do Lists Work?
I still believe lists work and I stand by what I wrote about the usefulness of lists. But, right at this moment, I don’t see myself as a connector, as someone who introduces people, or networks, or hustles for work. In fact, I’m snowed under with the projects on my desk.
And, I don’t see myself wanting to use Twitter to research either the place I live in, or the work I do or the things I spend my leisure time enjoying. I have a pretty decent backlog of places to visit in Tokyo, tutorials, books and articles to digest related to music and photography and an alarmingly big pile of stuff in my to read, to listen and to watch piles.
What Does Meeting People Mean?
When I say I used Twitter to meet a lot of interesting people I don’t just mean tapping into someone’s online stream. What I mean is actually meeting someone in person, in real life and developing a flesh and bone relationship with them.
Most of the interesting people I’ve meet in the last five years, living in Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo, I first connected with through Twitter. This often derided 140-characters at a time medium has been my tool for meeting musicians, photographers, writers, TV presenters, arts impresarios, public relations experts, entrepreneurs, dancers, marketers, poets, artists, film-makers, chefs and actors.
Almost all these meetings have been inspiring because Twitter is, to be blunt, a great bullshit detector. Follow someone for even a little while and you’ll soon get an insight into their mind and soul. Not surprisingly, many of those I’ve met have become close acquaintances, friends and even professional collaborators.
But, as Twitter has grown and become more mainstream, it’s become less social in this sense. The age of the open invitation “tweet-up” is gone. Many long term Twitter users I’ve spoken to in the last year feel the same.
Twitter has Changed
Twitter has changed a lot in the last few years. It’s not really about changes in the design or service. As the platform has become more popular and mainstream, the kind of people it has attracted and their goals have made Twitter something different. The service was once dominated by people who worked in tech, pr, advertising and the arts. That’s no longer the case. Twitter is now more of a news service in a way, or a public ranting service in another; it’s a colder medium now.
And, as I said earlier this week, my needs have changed as well.
I still like Twitter a lot; my decision to cut the lists was an attempt to engage in a better way with it, by giving Twitter a little less time and slightly more personal focus. I didn’t want to be one of those people who copes by just putting my account on autopilot. I’m still there, just in a different way.