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Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Twitter: My Thoughts 6 Years On....

Photo: Dado Rivic/Reuters

I have been on Twitter since I first signed up in late November 2008; last year in 2014 was my 6th anniversary as a user and from that time until today, I pondered and reflected on my experience back then, how it compares today, and whether or not I will continue using this service in the future. 

Twitter in 2008 was still a small fish in a big social networking pond, alongside Facebook and Myspace; it was a niche thing at the time to use Twitter. Facebook was the 'IT thing' and almost every teenager, college and university student was on it. 

I once had a Facebook account, but I only opened one because some of the other students at university had one, and it was their way to keep in contact with one another. After 2 years, I quit Facebook and deleted my account. I rarely used it; I just looked at some of the status updates and thought to myself, 'nah, I can't be bothered to read all of that'. 

Then a few months on, I later discovered Twitter. 

The interesting thing about my discovery of Twitter, was I first heard about it from a celebrity, who was a) tweeting and b) was on a TV show I was a fan of: Ugly Betty. The actor's name was Michael Urie, who played Marc. He mentioned about Twitter, his tweets and all that stuff. So I thought, 'why not'. 

The first 2 years on Twitter was enjoyable; come 2011 it was okay and manageable with a few Twitter trolls and spammers invading my mentions. But after that, a lot has changed - my Tweeting habits died down when I got more involved with work, took time off the internet to focus on my art, and after I had signed up to Pinterest. 

With that in mind, and the less time I spent being on Twitter, the time I did spend on Twitter these days, I feel as though it's not the same as before. It doesn't feel the same as it was in 2008. I don't feel or get excited, nor as enthused whenever I am on Twitter.

It's not just the d***head trolls and spammers who don't even follow me -yet anonymously appear in my mentions, and of whom just want to be innocuous and ask contrarian (aha, new word I've learnt today!) & acerbic questions and make remarks, just to anger me that gets to me. It is the excitement whenever I was on Twitter to have a banter, that has long gone. Sure I enjoy the odd conversations with people and talk about different subjects and issues using fewer characters as possible. 

One of the few things I like about Twitter is the growing network of people you get to know, of whom I don't get to meet in person. I mean, sure it's good to see them in person and converse with them. But when you are on the other side of the world, or they live far away, it is a great way to engage with people via the web, without spending hundreds of pounds, or dollars travelling to their neck of the woods. 

There was a saying that goes, 'Facebook is for people you already know, and Twitter is for people you want to know', and I think that is very true. You get to know people on Twitter and follow them through their tweets, rather than through personal connections and having known them as friends, acquaintances, work colleagues, pupils. 

As Twitter got more and more bigger, and more and more celebrities joined, the magic and love for Twitter that I had, dissolved. 

Do I still see the value of Twitter though? Yes, because otherwise, I would have called time on it for good and deleted my account. I may not spend as much time on there as I did, but given the connections I have built up on there, some of the interesting conversations and tweets I've had with certain people, as well as sharing my art for other people to see, I'm not going to quit. 

But I get Twitter burnout easily - tweeting regularly and every single day is and can be a chore and there are times where I do stay off Twitter. I see it as a good thing, because I can return to it whenever I feel like it, or when I am in a good frame of mind.  

When you have been doing something for a long time, even if the feeling isn't the same as it was before, there are always 1 or 2 things that keep you coming back, time after time. Because you've grown accustomed to it and you just feel the good does outweigh all of the bad. That is the feeling I get with Twitter. 

With that in mind, despite the trolling, negativity, abuse, I figured out the reasons why I chose to stay on Twitter:

- It's more about quality of followers I have, more-so than quantity and the conversations and relationships I have with those people through theirs and our tweets.

- I ignore the d***heads, twats, trolls just by not engaging with them and just block. Blocking is usually a last resort, but when you have people constantly mentioning you, just to have a go at you & you don't have the energy to give into or put up with their crap, you can't help but hit the block button. If necessary, report as well. I don't focus on other people's tirades and negativity towards me. In stark contrast, people on Pinterest rarely or do not engage or converse with other users. But it's a different type of website to Twitter, and yet users there know when to keep their mouths shut, as engagement levels by Pinterest users are extremely low. 

- I enjoy sharing links to stories and articles others may find funny or interesting that are different to the general news stories one would come to expect.

- It's good to be able to connect with people that have similar interests or tastes as myself and being able to share our views with them.

- I like commenting on the TV shows and movies I watch in real-time.  

- I just feel that the positive conversations and relationships I've had on there resonate with me a great deal that I value their feelings enough to realise that I don't really need to have a Facebook account to do the same thing. 

- I like to be able to say what's on my mind and how I feel about things, instead of being passive and in dispelling that silent Asian minority myth. Because I feel as though I have a voice and I want to express it, online. 

- It used to be about following celebrities, but not anymore to me. I follow celebrities because I am a fan of their work, as opposed to following them, for the sake of them being famous. 

- Spending less time on Twitter is a good thing, as opposed to it being a negative thing. I need to conserve and channel my energy and resources into other mediums and other ways, besides spending hours every day on the platform. 

As long as Twitter still remains and without dealing with the bulls**t that comes with it, one thing's for sure, not a day goes by when something happens or someone says or posts an interesting or funny tweet. 

If that happens, count me in. 

Image from Human Capitalist

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