For People Who Don’t ‘Get’ Twitter (or any other media)

Got an email today that was in response to my post yesterday on my business blog about how Twitter is like Email. The person said:

 i still don’t “GET” twitter.  i think i understand it, but i don’t GET it…rob’s explanation helps me understand better, but it still doesn’t answer the “why should anybody care” question…oh, and by the way, i don’t want an extra email in my inbox everytime somebody who i’m following (which is maybe why i’m not following anybody) decides to tell me what they’re doing.  i’ll take the “summary version” when i call people on the phone, rather than getting a bunch of “i’m scratching my privates” twitters or something.  

So I replied:

I’d say if you really don’t care, don’t use twitter. There’s no need to. The bottom line is that there is a different audience for each social network. If no one in your circle of influence is on twitter (and/or you don’t want to add to your circle people on twitter) and you don’t want to listen to what others are saying on twitter, then stay off it. I’d make the same argument for YouTube, Flickr, Facebook, LinkedIN, etc. If you have no need to professionally connect with people online, stay off LinkedIN. You have no friends on Facebook? Then why be there?  They are all communication tools for particular audiences.

My post was for those who are on twitter or who want to be there but not sure about it. Or for those not understanding what it’s about. I wanted to show that it’s not that different than any other form of communication.  If someone wants to stick to phone calls, go for it.

Here’s a quick story of something I learned about communication…A friend of mine works full time with High School students in Portugal.  He’s a missionary… He told me one day (about 3 years ago) that he might spend 3 hours of constant text messaging with the students. He said that he’d want to ask the kids “why don’t you stop texting and use the voice part of the phone? Call me!” But the important lesson there was that if he did talk to them on the phone, he would be using a communications device that the people receiving the messages (voice) wouldn’t want.  Talking to this group of people would be worse than texting because they would not receive the messages well. He was more effective in communicating through texting – even though he is limited compared to a phone call.

So it goes with any other medium. I don’t care that much for podcasts because I prefer text so I can skim. I feel like it’s a real commitment to listen to audio speech. Yet others listen to podcasts all the time. If someone wants to communicate (say musings about LOST) a blog post works for me much better than a podcast because of the way I’m most comfortable absorbing the message.

Now to address my biggest pet peeve…mentioned: that [they don’t] want the “i’m scratching my privates” twitters. Oh this just irks me to no end. It’s such a narrow assumption. To be honest, I rarely see any twitter update that has that sentiment. If someone always posts that kind of message, I don’t follow them. I ignore them. Just because a group of folks use a tool like twitter to post that crap doesn’t mean everyone does. The people I follow are sharing something I find useful. Like I posted in my blog post, twitter and facebook should say “share something” instead of “what are you doing”. Looking at who I follow right now, the last 6 tweets on my screen are about a guy who talked about his business, someone sharing a link about scientists building anti-mosquito lasers, observations about the iPhone, etc. Some are more personal. My tweets are similar. I share what I think are interesting thoughts, links, and some mundane personal updates as well. Often I write more than 140 characters on a blog post then announce it on twitter.  People said the same thing about blogs: “why would I care what people did all day on a blog? I don’t want to read someone’s journal.” Most people agree now that journaling is one of many applications for using blog technology. There are blogs to raise awareness for charities, churches, teaching spiritual truths, humor, TV shows, teaching, anything! I’m following a new blog to learn sign language. I stopped following another blog because he used to write about interesting facts about weather, now he talks about the local weather in a city I don’t visit.  So I’m out. IT’S THE EXACT SAME THING WITH TWITTER OR ANY OTHER SOCIAL MEDIA OR WEB SERVICE!  Heck, it’s the same as a phone. If every person that called me was a telemarketer, I could say the phone is a stupid way to communicate. Why would anyone have a phone if all I get are people disrupting me to sell me stuff I don’t want? 

So if anyone doesn’t “get” twitter, facebook, blogs, telephones, tv, newspapers, youtube, computers, automobiles, pest control, brand monitoring, instant messaging, periodicals, or email, then that’s fine. You have the opportunity to invest and learn, ignore it, or tolerate it. Any of those can be a very valid and good decision.  All technology is neutral. Paper can be used to write the Deceleration of Independence and spiritual truths or used for pornography and hate speech. It’s the humans that have the capacity to use any media for good or evil, not the technology.

Maybe I was a bit harsh, but I guess I have an opinion about it all.

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  • good post/reply. i think I’ll be directing a few folks your way for this explanation.