Twitter Haters

I have been using Twitter since March 2007. When I signed up, few people other that us geeks knew about the service. I remember sending people invites, and getting bewildered emails asking me WTF is this “twidler” thing.

You know, we didn’t even have the failwhale back then. We had fucking lolcats notifying us or error messages. If you don’t remember that fucking cat, you can consider yourself a newbie.

Over the years I watched the service grow, expand, become more stable and add new features. I wrote several twitter tools and clients, and tried just about every single third party client out there. In fact, Twitter even made my ISP suck less that one time. I love the service and I enjoy using it.

This is why I get annoyed when people who just heard about Twitter yesterday tell me that Twitter is the stupidest thing ever. I’m sorry, but you have no clue what you are talking about. I’ve been using it for years now, and I find it very useful and valuable. You just saw it on TV the other day and you are convinced it is useless. May I ask how did you decide this?

Usual answer I get is something among the lines of:

“Well, why would I care what someone ate for lunch or what TV show they are watching right now”

I don’t care abut that stuff either, but I use Twitter every day. I just don’t follow people who only tweet about their lunches or their TV shows.

“I also don’t care about what the celebrities are posting – it’s mostly stupid, useless crap anyway.”

I agree, but again, no one is forcing you to follow these people. I have no interest in the crap that Oprah, Shaq or one of the other countless mainstream celebs might be spewing out on the internet. I follow people I know IRL or from the interwebs, people who I find interesting (Jeff Attwood – creator of Coding Horror and Stack Overflow, like John Resig – the jQuery creator, Adam Savage – the Mythbuster, Chris Boys – the infamous Papeghost, the pwnr of script kiddies or Shamus Young known for DM of the Rings, Stolen Pixels his blog and bunch of other things) or genuinely funny (hotdogsladies, Matthew Baldwin, Adam Lisagdor, Scott Simpson, Tim Siedell, domnit). How’s that for a starter list? Feel free to add awesome follow-worthy names in the comments.

“Ok, ok. But I already have Facebook. Twitter is like Facebook status without my Facebook contacts, my applications, pictures, notes, feeds and all that good stuff. Why would I ever want to use that?”

Here you are just plain old wrong. Twitter is not a “Facebook status without Facebook”. It is a completely different animal. On twitter most people have public profiles which means anyone can follow them. So you can subscribe to the updates of interesting people without them having to approve you. Can you do that on Facebook? No, on Facebook most people have private profiles (which is actually a good thing, considering the amount of info you can find on a persons Facebook page). This means it is easier to meet people, and have conversations with folks you don’t know and don’t intend to follow.

Twitter also allows you to reach a wider audience. For example, who reads your status updates on Facebook? Friends, family, people you know from school, work and perhaps some internet buddies you trust. You could mess around with the privacy settings and allow more people, but still – your audience will be limited.

Let me give you a real life example. The following exchange could never happen on Facebook, but on Twitter this is normal:

Twitter Conversation

Twitter Conversation (click to enlarge)

It is a different service used for different purpose. If you using it the way you use Facebook then you are probably doing it wrong.

Not only that, but Twitter is unique among social services in that it is not a walled garden. To access anything on Facebook, you need to create an account. Twitter only requires you to create account to post tweets. You can however follow someone without ever logging in using the public RSS feeds. You can also archive and back up your own tweets in the same way.

The public feeds and public API allows people to create interesting applications and mashups on top of Twitter. A good example could be Twistori or Favrd.

What bothers me the most, is the people who are throwing all this Twitter hate around are not old. Old ladies for example seem to be very interested in the service and often ask me how do you set it up, how it works and etc. The haters usually are young, often internet savvy people.

I guess this is a status thing. These people were too cool to use it back when it was geeky and virtually unknown. Now they are too cool to use it, because it is “oh, so mainstream”.

What is your take on Twitter? Have you encountered a lot of this type of Twitter hate lately? Let me know in the comments.

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15 Responses to Twitter Haters

  1. dawn SWITZERLAND Mozilla Firefox Linux says:

    I don’t use twitter, because I have no use for it. I don’t have a facebook account because the disadvantages outweigh the advantages I see. I’m not a hater of either but I just don’t care enough. I’ve never cared for any other web services either. Plus, I’m trying to cut back on web distractions (I only visit two or three blogs, forums, comics regularly and I don’t chat the way I used to. As for people I know in real life,… I call them on the phone or see them often enough, so I don’t have to bother with social networking services.)

    However, I see your point. I even thought “it’s about time” when I saw the black mesa source project was on twitter.

    As for all the hate, I don’t think you should bother too much about it. The attitude I’ve adopted is to stick to my prinicples an stay calm. I’ve witnessed all sorts of irrational hate (and I suspect some of it comes and goes with the trends), but I just say “meh” and move on.

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  2. Ian Clifton UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    I think it’s a service like YouTube. YouTube has a LOT of really bad content and a lot of people who post idiotic comments. However, there are some good finds hidden in there if you look hard enough. I wasn’t willing to sift through it all until a month or two ago when I had to start working with the API a lot for an iPhone app. I thought it would be a good idea to use the service some.

    Unfortunately, its stability is relative. It used to be as stable as boiling water; now it’s more like bubbling mud. And they still haven’t consolidated the two APIs, but they continue to add to the REST API.

    I think it’s best for real life friends (“Going to X Saturday; who wants to join?”), people with a common interest (“Awesome jQuery plugin released causes computers with IE to explode!”), and short jokes or humorous statements that I’m unlikely to remember two seconds later.

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  3. jambarama UNITED STATES Google Chrome Windows Terminalist says:

    I tried using it, I found it was a superb waste of time. For every useful communication I got – like your SF twitter – I read 100 useless ones. Posting felt like shouting in an empty room and reading felt like I had found the lowest content RSS stream available. I suppose I just didn’t know the right way to do things.

    To go along with your theory though, I don’t know anyone under 20 who uses twitter. Maybe that’s because I’m getting older and know fewer people under 20, but my teenage sisters don’t use it or know anyone that does. For whatever reason, twitter seems to interest mostly older types – stay at home moms, and business folks.

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  4. Zel FRANCE Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    I’m not much into social networks, and I have no Twitter or Facebook account.

    I have no use for a service like Twitter, but I won’t berate people for using it and finding it great. Although it does seems like a huge timesink to keep up with your own page, your discussions, the updates of the people you follow, etc… and I already have too little time to do things I want to let myself get sucked into it. Then again, maybe I’m wrong and you can use it effectively spending only ten minutes on it per day. How much time do you spend on it ?

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  5. Steve CANADA Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    I had a Facebook account but dumped it. I never had, and never will have, a Twitter account …. for exactly the same reasons you hate television: it’s a fucking world-wide reality show filled with more and more banality as time goes on. Soon, Twitter will become just like some other fad – like MySpace and, now, “niche channels” on television: a refuge for the inane. Yes I could filter out the noise, but you know what…at the end of the day, the time I spend filtering outweighs the enjoyment/use I would get from it.

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  6. road UNITED STATES Google Chrome Windows says:

    thanks for the post — very well said. this attitude drives me crazy. I’m not a regular twitter OR facebook user, although I find twitter vaguely interesting and have started following one or two people of interest. what is frustrating is that it seems like many people are initially against any new fad or technology but then as it integrates into the lives of everyday users then nobody thinks anything of it. these are the same people who made fun of e-mail and instant messaging and VoIP at first (and probably typewriters and telephones and telegraphs). i think there’s just a strong technophobic tenancy in many otherwise-open-minded people that is very annoying. my attitude is that if millions of people like it, there must be something to it and it’s worth giving it a try with an open-mind.

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  7. Square UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Linux says:

    I started using twitter a while back, and you were among the first I followed.
    After a while, twitter got really boring for me… and then I found identi.ca

    I’ve been a pretty happy identi.ca user since. The community is more niche, and mostly full of geeks. It seems to suit my needs better. You can also link up your twitter and identi.ca accounts. And, if you’re wondering how to get there, http://identi.ca

    Also, I might add, any twitter client using the api to work with twitter will work with identi.ca (if it didn’t already), it’s just a matter of changing the URL in the source (Which I’ve done with mitter, and it works great :D).

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  8. Morghan UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Linux says:

    Twitter makes me feel old. Like those people in my family who just don’t get e-mail, not that they’re unable to use it, just that they don’t see the point or ever bother to get involved with it. I have a lot of friends who use it, and I signed up so I could “follow” them, but I never remember to check it so I have as much of an idea what they’re saying now as I did before I signed up.

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  9. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    dawn wrote:

    I’m trying to cut back on web distractions (I only visit two or three blogs, forums, comics regularly and I don’t chat the way I used to.

    Heh, I feel honored that my blog is one of the few chosen places you visit. :)

    Also, I actually seem to notice the opposite trend here. A lot of my IRL conversations start with “Did you see so and so’s Facebook thing?” Also, relationships are not official until your Facebook says “in relationship with”. My cousin’s finance was actually required to create a facebook account when they started dating for that very purpose. :P

    Ian Clifton wrote:

    I think it’s best for real life friends (”Going to X Saturday; who wants to join?”), people with a common interest (”Awesome jQuery plugin released causes computers with IE to explode!”), and short jokes or humorous statements that I’m unlikely to remember two seconds later.

    Yep. That’s exactly what I use it for. I follow people who I know IRL, who I find consistently amusing and who share common interests with me. Every once in a while I go through my follow list and downsize it removing anyone that I don’t instantly recognize.

    jambarama wrote:

    I tried using it, I found it was a superb waste of time. For every useful communication I got – like your SF twitter – I read 100 useless ones. Posting felt like shouting in an empty room and reading felt like I had found the lowest content RSS stream available. I suppose I just didn’t know the right way to do things.

    Again, it depends who you follow and who follows you. If you follow/are followed by IRL or online friends it feels much more social.

    Zel wrote:

    Then again, maybe I’m wrong and you can use it effectively spending only ten minutes on it per day. How much time do you spend on it ?

    Almost none. I lazily check them 2-3 times a day. More often if I’m stuck somewhere with just my blackberry and nothing interesting to do.

    My tweets are replicated on facebook so I usually kill two birds with one stone when I post something to Twitter. I generally tweet few times a day but there are days when I just have nothing to say. I usually tweet when I’m either annoyed, happy or when I want to make a quick observation or a silly comment.

    I use these services sparingly and definitely not to their full potential. Still for the little time I spend on them, they make me feel more connected. :)

    @ Steve:
    Funny thing is that the same could be said about almost every online network and/or service. Yes, this does apply to twitter but again – it depends who you follow. I could say the same thing about Facebook, Slashdot, Digg and reddit recently.

    @ Square:

    I may need to check identica out. Then again the more network I join the harder they become to follow.

    Morghan wrote:

    Twitter makes me feel old. Like those people in my family who just don’t get e-mail, not that they’re unable to use it, just that they don’t see the point or ever bother to get involved with it.

    Sometimes I feel like that too, but then I just force myself to embrace the new. I don’t want to be left behind too much. :)

    Also, Twitter shouldn’t make you feel old – if anything you should probably feel younger – since so few young people actually use the service.

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  10. Tino UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    I am a bit ashamed for how long it took me to understand what twitter is about.

    I think a prime reason was their own misleading explanation: “Twitter is a free service that lets you keep in touch with people through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?” This explanation just begs for the response you complained about: “why would I care what someone ate for lunch or what TV show they are watching right now?”

    The way I understand it now is that twitter is to instant messaging what bloging is to email.

    Take a thing like “Hey, I just saw the new spiderman movie, here is what I thought [...] What did you think?” Some people do this with their friends through email, but it is a hassle to keep track of who to include in the to-list and who not to. Hence, it is just easier to do it via a blog, where you skip the step of directing the communication to any specific recipient. Twitter does the same thing, but for instant messaging.

    I wonder if there are many more of these “next big things” to be discovered through taking an accepted form of communication and removing the requirement to direct and/or authenticate it.

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  11. Square UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Linux says:

    It just crossed my mind that this is probably going to happen all over again when Google Wave hits the scene.

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  12. Lironah UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Dude! Adam Savage uses twitter? Maybe today’s the day I’ll sign up then…

    I know I need to use it, and facebook, and all of those other social networking things, but I keep putting it off…

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  13. Milos UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    A couple of times you wrote exactly what I was thinking in this post. People don’t get it and are too annoyed to try. Their attention spans of a 2 year old don’t help either. We all get carried away and tweet about dumb things every once in a while (I’m guilty of that as well), but overall it is a good service where you can find like-minded people or at least people with same/similar interests and exchange knowledge, information, experiences and opinions.

    btw, come say hi @topicm Sorry, couldn’t resist. :)

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  14. Well, I am what I call a twater (yes, a Twitter hater), and I still think I am perfectly justified in being a twater. It has less to do with the usefulness of the service than it has do with the media perception and acceptance of it as the second coming of technological nirvana (I represent all religions here on the Interwebs :)).

    Every time I see a major news outlet talk about how their news correspondents are “reporting live via twitter” I cringe. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

    I wrote a long post on it on my blog,
    http://ruleroftheinterwebs.blogspot.com

    And no, you can’t follow it on Twitter.

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  15. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    Ruler of the Interwebs wrote:

    Every time I see a major news outlet talk about how their news correspondents are “reporting live via twitter” I cringe. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

    Doesn’t make sense to me either. I mostly ignore the media hoopla over the service altogether. I mean, I was using it long before it went mainstream and even then I found it useful. :)

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