Note: Internet search tells me I’m only the 42 millionth person to think up the title used for this post. Maybe those 42 million other bozos can tweet about how unoriginal I am.
Ah, Twitter. Cruel mistress of pain and delight. An effective combination to be sure. Today I’m going to go random on the topic of Twitter. To honor the spirit of the subject matter, I’m going to try to limit my piths to 140 characters or less. (That’s a big plus for most of you right there!)
Numbers (There Are Too Many Of Them And Stuff)
Someone the other day tweeted, “In the last 7 days I gained 6697 new followers on #instagram.” Since we know that Twitter (and most SM in general) is all about quantity vs. quality, this tweet, of course, filled me with the desire to blow my head off.
By the way, SM stands for Social Media. It may also stand for “sadomasochism.” According to Wikipedia, for those into that world, it’s not actually S&M like the rest of us seem to think. “Practitioners themselves normally drop the & and use the acronym SM …”
SM … Social Media … SM … Sadomasochism …
Coincidence? Methinks not.
So this person, who describes themselves as a “social media specialist” in their Twitter profile, picked up 6,697 new followers in a single week. And only on that Instagram crap, too.
Me? Like an idiot I waste my Twitter profile space on a joke and a lame one at that. Fail. And, according to Twitter, I’ve been tweeting since “11 Feb 10.”
Don’t get me started! I hate places that use wonky date formats. Is that Feb. 10, 2011? Or is it Feb. 11, 2010? Thanks to the way they display dates there’s no way to know. I did a comparison test with a tweet from today, however, and learned it’s Feb. 11, 2010. So I’ve been at this Twitter thing for 2 years and 4 months. During that time I’ve clawed my way to 271 followers.
Let’s do the math.
6,697 divided by 7 days = 956.7 followers per day
271 divided by 860 days = 0.3 followers per day
Hey, this is actually fun. This confirms one of my theories about my worth as a human being. Now, thanks to Twitter, I know that I’m worth 3,189 times less than this other human being. It’s not often that life serves up that kind of validation on a silver platter.
Thank you, Twitter!
What is Twitter? For the purposes of this post et us adopt an information technology view. As a computer programmer I can help you take a tour of Twitter’s technology. What does Twitter actually do?
It’s basically a database that performs two functions. One is an insert operation where new records, limited to 140 characters of text, are added to the database. The other is read operations where those records are retreived and displayed in various ways.
Aside from a little bit of fluff, that’s about it. These days a three-year-old database programmer could write a system to do that.
And yet, it’s apparently hard. This morning I wrote a handful of tweets and encountered multiple errors while attempting to amaze the universe with my pith. I was told, “Whoops, you already said that” even though I hadn’t. It was my first try. But I double-checked my profile and the tweet had indeed been saved. Elegant.
Another error I received was something along the lines of “We’re not able to do that right now. Please wait and try again in a moment.” Naturally, like everyone else, I responded by clicking the TWEET button repeatedly and as fast as I possibly could. Let’s see what that does!!! Mwuhahahaha.
Obviously the problem is not one of the task being complicated. It is one of scale and load. Writing a software to do what Twitter does is easy. Making it work for millions of people at the same time? That’s a bit more difficult. Obviously.
Who Are These People? – Two Steps Forward And Three Steps Back
For me, the number of people who “follow” me works much like a yo-yo. It goes up for a few days, then it goes back down. If I didn’t know any better, I’d feel like an undercooked steak that just got sent back to the kitchen.
Being unfollowed is a lot like a potential employer not even calling or sending a letter of rejection after reading your resumé. Only worse.
On the other hand, I get followed by “no talent ass clowns” all the time. These are people who know absolutely nothing about me and are following just for the sake of following. Their profile usually says something about them being “social media entrepreneurs” and such. Or they may be an author. Being a nice person, you follow them back even though you have absolutely no idea who they are or how they found you. POW!!! You just got a goddamned automated direct message (DM) from them linking you to their free e-book on Amazon.com. I call this the “automated self-published author gambit.” (I have read a few interesting books this way, though.)
A lot of the followers you get are bogus. Some are porn bots and spammers. It’s only natural that your follow count will go back down once these get fake accounts get discovered and removed.
Some people may follow just to see if you follow back. If you don’t then they’ll cut their losses, dump you, and move on to their next victim.
Even more snarky, some may follow you, wait for you to follow back, then sneakily unfollow you. Then there you are holding the bag in a one-way Twitter relationship. Sucker!!
You can’t let any of this affect you personally. It’s just how the system is gamed. Remember: Quality always trumps quantity. The people I enjoy most on Twitter are people where we’ve actually commented on each other’s tweets. We’ve favorited and even re-tweeted each other. That sort of thing feels good.
Fuck everyone else.
The Phantom Unfollow
This should have been the name of the Episode I Star Wars movie. That sound you just heard – It was as if a million fans cried out as one and then were suddenly silenced – by unfollowing George Lucas. Duh.
Almost as bad is that moment when you realize: “What the fuck? I thought I already followed that person? How the hell is it that I’m somehow unfollowed?” Especially when the person in question is one of your favorite peeps.
Dammit, Twitter. We don’t ask much of you. Just a few simple basic functions. Like, if I follow someone, it stays that way. Several times now I’ve received word from people that they weren’t following me when we both knew they were.
This has got to be fixed. I mean, if it isn’t, what’s the fucking point? That’s like a donut shop that can’t make donuts or an auto mechanic who can’t work on cars. Or a database that can’t be used.
If we don’t stay followed to the people we’ve connected with then bother??? It would be more useful to go challenge myself to a game of Solitaire with a deck of 51 cards.
The fact is: You will be unconnected from people you follow and vice versa. Twitter won’t be there to help with this. You have to pay attention and fix it yourself. I think Twitter built their headquarters in the Bermuda Triangle.
By the way, if I ever get a time machine, my first stop is going to be William Shakespear. I’ll ask him what he thinks of the sentence: “What the fuck? I thought I already followed that person? How the hell is it that I’m somehow unfollowed?”
I See You (Or At Least Your Avatar)
This was gonna be it’s own post, but I’m sticking it here and I’ll be brief. Here I’ll discuss the various avatar types:
- A closeup pic of the person’s real face: An obvious weirdo and/or narcissist.
- A faraway and indiscernible real picture: Keep your distance. I have a huge space bubble.
- An obviously fake pic, perhaps a person in a retardant suit: A real John Hinkley type.
- Kitty cat: Emotionally unbalanced and/or low self image and/or likes animals a little too much.
- A business logo: Boring.
- Alcoholic beverage: Drinking issues.
- Cleavage shot (women): Flirtatious, wants pictures of penis’ emailed
- Cleavage shot (men): Moobs support group, bears, mother issues
- Suggestive shot of legs, feet and toes: Flirtatious, world focuses too much on image, demands attention
- Frequent changes of avatar: Stability issues, flighty
- Real pic turned into a cartoon: Court jester, shyness
- Animated: Attention whore
Tweets Are Art
I read an online opinion once that argued that tweets are probably not protected by copyright laws. In fact, Twitter in the past has donated their entire database to the Library of Congress. It makes me feel really good to know that words I’ve written about a brown wedgie after a long day at work are forever enshrined in that esteemed institution.
In spite of everything I’ve just written above, though, I do enjoy Twitter very much. I think it is an art form to say something pithy in 140 characters or less. Putting a limit on a resource that could have been limitless was actually a genius idea. It’s probably the same reason some of us weirdos enjoy thinks like 30-word stories and drabbles.
I like several kinds of tweets:
- Using exactly 140 characters. I feel like I’ve accomplished something and I’ve done it with precision.
- Extremely short tweets: I only used 20 characters to get my point across. Empowering!
- Cramming in a lot of meaning: Actually telling a story.
I don’t like multi-tweets because they defy these concepts. I also abhor tweets like “Only 9,990 more followers and I’ll hit 10,000.” Suck it.
Follow me, I’ll follow you. Like me, I’ll like you. Touch me, and … hey, wait a minute! Almost had me there.
See you in the stream!!! If you got the guts, that is.