Posted in random thoughts, writing

Life Beyond Twitter

Just wanted to call attention to a really nice piece on the possible death knell of Twitter. Yanno, someday. I just ran across Winston Ross’s blog talking about the shape of things to come with regard to social networking sites. And he’s a fellow Oregonian 🙂

Anyway Newsweek killed his piece because it timed out badly with a similar piece by Time magazine. Publishing house of cards, I guess. Here’s an interesting factoid:

By April, Twitter had nearly 20 million unique visitors, up from 1.5 million a year before that. Now the web is abuzz with speculation that Twitter is nothing more than a passing fad, a theory supported by the latest round of Nielsen research that shows 60 percent of its users don’t return after their initial signup.

60 percent. I admit I’m surprised it’s that high. I think I’m just sick of hearing about all these sites, and the stupid antics people feel compelled to announce to the world via them. Guess I’m not the only one.

Mr. Ross muses if it’s possible to unseat the reigning king of the hill, once a site has grown big enough. I say yes. AOL once dominated the scene, especially with their chat rooms, but as far as I know they’re toast now. Everyone I used to know who used AOL no longer does. Including me.

Anyway, it’ll be interesting to see what crops up next.


Writer of vampire stories and science fiction. First novel, "Revenants Abroad", available now at Amazon. If you like a vampire you can go out drinking with and still respect yourself in the morning, I think you'd like Andrej.

22 thoughts on “Life Beyond Twitter

  1. Heh! Can’t say I am at all surprised. I really enjoyed reading Uppington’s comment (waves hello to her) on why she uses Twitter and enjoy it. And, there, I think is the key. She, and certainly some others, find it beneficial and enjoyable for different reasons. Whereas, on the other hand, so many people were jumping on it *only* because they were told they must if they wanted to succeed in today’s world. (a theory I never bought).


    1. I totally agree, Gypsy; I’ve just never seen the point in spending time/money on something b/c OTHER people think it’s fun. It reminds me of these middle-aged moms & dads who go on Facebook so that they can appear Hip and Happening to their teeny/twenty-something offspring. My understanding is that there is just nothing more uncool than your Mom trying to “friend” you so she can snoop into your bizness (and no, I’m not talking about parents of young teens, who have every right & responsibility to keep track of what their kids are up to. Basically, if you’re still paying for the service, you SHOULD keep an eye on the kids’ communiques – not in a nosy, intrusive way, but just enough to make sure they are not endangering their own privacy, or that of the rest of the family, to the point where the service should be cut off. ) Anybody old enough to pay for their own cel/wireless service is probably responsible enough to have Mommy & Daddy butt out of their social lives.


  2. I totally agree, people join up because they’re told they must for business, but how effective is it really? I get advertising e-mails now that say “Follow us on Twitter” and then add the disclaimer “We only tweet occasionally.” I already get their e-mails, what else could they possibly have to say on Twitter? Special deals for those on Twitter? Why not just put it in the e-mail? Twitter seems to be reducing down to becoming another marketing tool. If that’s all it becomes, it will die a quick death because it’s redundant. They’re going to have to find a way to make it profitable, so it seems to me charging users is only a matter of time. I think that will really sign Twitter’s death certificate.

    I think the saddest aspect of all this online “social networking” is that people use it as a substitute for meeting real people, in real life, and interacting face-to-face. I spent years in the online chatrooms on AOL, and I’ll tell you what, with the exception of one person I would not consider any of those people real friends. There is a built-in distance factor, physical and emotional, to online interactions.


  3. Hey D D,

    I sort of disagree about “there is a built-in distance factor, physical and emotional, to online interactions”. Of course that’s true in a sense, but on the other hand, the internet is such a great way to meet people who share your interests, and that can, and has, led to some very true friendships.


  4. Yes, that’s true, it can. But look how closely we all guard our real identities here. We hide behind fake names and faux pictures, and as you expressed on the previous thread, make the decision not to share any real personal information. So we can make real friends online (and I know of couples who ‘met’ via chatrooms and married), but I think those are few and far between. I also ran across an article on CNN today about a family that actually text messages eachother, in their own home, and watch the same tv program, but in different rooms, with 5 tvs in the house. Sometimes all these electronic gadgets create distance.


  5. Um, it hasn’t dawned on them that it might be nice to sit down together and watch as a family? I don’t like to make judgement calls on other people, but that is really sad.

    The whole internet, social networking- (anything really) can be good or bad, depending on how one uses it.


    1. That’s very true. It just seems like the trend is more and more to use the gadgetry to communicate, rather than speak to people in person. I’m just not sure this is a healthy trend, and I wonder what the future will be like when we all sit home and talk on computers and text message, etc., and no one ever leaves their house. This has been the subject of a lot of sci-fi, with some very interesting outcomes.


  6. “Yes, that’s true, it can. But look how closely we all guard our real identities here. We hide behind fake names and faux pictures, and as you expressed on the previous thread, make the decision not to share any real personal information.”

    Well, to me, that’s just following common sense. Even in the “real world”, I’m not going to reveal my private goings on to people unless they are very close to me. Trust takes a lot of time.


  7. Sure, we don’t tell every person we meet our most intimate details, but if you attended, say, a book group people would see you, know your name, probably get a rough idea of where you live, probably what kind of work you do, and so on. Maybe none of those things really matter, I don’t know. I just think it’s different meeting in person.


    1. I like virtual visiting as a supplement to, rather than in place of, real live face time. As you know, Didge, everybody over at my blog is a friend or relative from the Actual Physical World, but we all live flung to the corners of the country now and we’d have to go YEARS between opportunities to all get together in the flesh for say, an Oscar party. In that case, I value our anonymity not b/c I wouldn’t tell you damn near anything (you can usually throw the cards and figure it out before I tell you, anyway!) but because I love that we can all “get together” online without being eavesdropped upon by the uninvited (remember the “meeting” a few of us had when I was trying to decide whether I had to invite another local from the Old Neighborhood to the MJB, because she’d invited Rosie & me to her Trivia pool?)

      It differs, I think, in that even if one of us makes up a faux detail – for example a spouse with the name Fang or “Mrs. Hammer” – it’s for a different reason than those creeps and oddballs who create alternate lives on the Internet, where they claim to be younger, or taller, or richer or totally different in some other fashion b/c they are in some way dissatisfied or ashamed of their real lives.

      That being said, pretty much anybody from this blog is welcome to drop by over there, even if we’ve not met in person, because a few of us have gotten to know you all over time – the only thing is you WOULD be regaled with a lot of odd regional references, tales of people we went to high school with, and other examples of the distinctive Secret Language that comprises communications @ the MaryJBlog.


      1. Yes indeed, when virtual visits are the only option I’ll take them. But what a hoot it would have been to get us all in the same room with popcorn and champagne for the Oscar party!


  8. I think I want to try to clarify what I’m talking about here, before Tasha or anyone else starts thinking I don’t value the conversations we’ve had, and friendships I’ve made online, because I sincerely do. If I didn’t, I sure wouldn’t be here doing this! Where I’m having a problem is when people start substituting real life relationships with just sending out a ‘tweet’ to everyone they know, people who live in the same town, that you know personally. Instead of calling someone up and saying, “It’s been too long, how about lunch Saturday/drinks Friday/come over for a barbecue this weekend,” they just ‘tweet’ to keep everyone posted on their lives. Yes, this is coming from personal experience. It’s like they’re saying, “I’m so busy, I don’t have time to see you, but here’s what I’ve been up to because I just know everyone is so fascinated by me.” This is what’s sticking in my craw.


    1. Fang & I were friends with a couple who got like that before it was fashionable – she made a big deal of leaving these long, rambling messages on our answering machine, explaining how they were too busy with their terribly exciting lives to get together, but the odd thing was that when I tried to accomodate that by including her in my email loop, she never answered. You’d think email/IM/Twitter would be right up her alley, but she never bothers (except for that odd little obituary for their cat, which you may remember, Didge.) A week or 2 ago they decided to rock it totally Old Skool, and showed up at our house in person, unannounced, on JULY 4 WEEKEND!(?) Not surprisingly, we weren’t home, so they left a handwritten note in our mailbox.


      1. Yeah, I remember the kitty obit. (snickering) How do people get such an expanded view of their own importance? She probably never responded to your e-mail because it went to persons other than her, and finding out you have other friends with whom you enjoy spending time was no doubt a shock to her 😉

        You know those “Christmas letters” that people railed against for years for being so impersonal? This is the electronic equivalent we’re seeing. Instead of sending a personal note, you have to check in with their Facebook site if you want to know what’s going on with someone. It’s the etiquette maven in me that’s so affronted.


      2. “finding out you have other friends with whom you enjoy spending time was no doubt a shock to her”

        I think there’s a lot of truth to that, AND it might explain some of the folks who have replaced their real relationships with “virtual” ones – if you’ve not actually met the person, it doesn’t matter, maybe, who else is seeing, or reading, or responding to his/her posts: you can continue to fantasize that you’re in your little virtual bubble together, even if nothing is further from the truth.

        Does anyone else think that Twitter is a flash in the pan fad, rather than a real sea change in the way we communicate, based on the length/depth limitations? I just can’t even get started in those 40 characters, or 120 characters, or whatever the limit is. I can’t order a sandwich with that kind of brevity!


      3. That’s what Winston Ross was talking about on his blog, and some of the commenters were getting into how the current applications will be integrated, being able to pick and choose what you want to be logged into when you go online — sort of being able to tailor the Web for each user’s needs.

        Being restricted to 140 characters per ‘tweet’ I think will effectively limit Twitter’s usefulness, so how long it will last when people start getting tired of the format is anyone’s guess.


  9. Astro Sis,

    No worries! I understood exactly what you meant, and agree 100%. I think most people would agree there is a big difference in chatting online (whether visiting blogs, yahoo groups, facebook, whatever) with people who share similar interests but live too far away to meet in person, and substituting conversation for texting with the people in one’s real world sphere.


    1. Oh good! 🙂 Sometimes online people can read things into what you wrote, and even though I try to choose my words carefully sometimes I am not as articulate as I could wish.


    1. I’m not sure if you could join us in real time, Gypsy, what w/the time difference, but I’ll send you a ballot next year. Our Oscar pool has nothing to do with money and we just barely care about the number of correct answers; it’s merely an exercise in expressing a lot of colorful opinions, and you are certainly welcome. I’m already thinking it’s going to be very weird next year now that there’ll be SO MANY nominations.


  10. MaryJ,

    Yes. Please send me an oscar ballot next year. I love playing oscars!

    DD said,

    “It’s the etiquette maven in me that’s so affronted.”



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