Clarification: When I write, I don't prepare or organize my ideas, I just write what I would say if I was talking to you in person, so sometimes my blogs end up a little messy. I don't even proof-read what I write before posting it so you may find grammatical mistakes and poorly written sentences. Sometimes I'll read my blogs a day or two after publishing them and I may re-write things that weren't too clear and any embarrassing grammatical mistake. Also, English is not my first language, so I apologize if reading my blogs become a struggle. Of course, if this is the case, I would imagine you wouldn't continue reading.

Oct 17, 2015

Twitter Is Dead And Has Been Dead For Years



This is a Facebook conversation I just had on a post linking to an article titled "Why Twitter’s Dying (And What You Can Learn From It)". I'm just going to copy/paste what I wrote with all the broken English, bad grammar, and poorly written sentences, just because I don't feel like fixing it. Well, maybe I'll fix it tomorrow when I read it again and start thinking about how idiotic and uneducated I sound, but right at this moment I don't care....


My comment:

I didn't read the article, but I've been saying Twitter has been dead for a while now, since 2011. At least what Twitter was to the common user back then is dead. Twitter used to be the most social of all social media, and for a couple of years before it blew up, it was just magical, the perfect social media tool for networking. I've never met so many people, on and offline, or made as many valuable contacts and friends, as I did back then. I remember thinking how powerful it was, and how glad I was part of it. I estimate that back then I spent around 80% of my social media time on Twitter, and the other 20% was divided among Facebook, StumbleUpon, YouTube, and a few other social networks.

My personal theory regarding Twitter's death is based on the fact that back then Twitter was a place where people mainly interacted, unlike today, where it's more about posting content and reading what the "important/famous people" say. I'll try to explain what happened the best I can, but I know that anyone who was not active on Twitter between 2008 and 2011, might not really understand why it bothers me that much. I don't think you can imagine how cool Twitter used to be if you have only experienced what it currently is. Anyway, here it goes:

When Twitter started there were no hyperlinks, no hashtags, no pictures, no nothing, just text. I believe it was developed with the idea that you could post Tweets via text messages, which I think could only be 140 characters long (per message). If you used more than140 characters, let's say 142 characters, you were charged for 2 messages. Twitter used to be a true minimalist social network. Because of all these limitations, its users had to be a little more creative on their posts. I remember how one post was wittier and funnier than the other, maybe because deep down inside we all wanted to be wittier and funnier than the rest, I don't know, but what I do know is that Twitter users were a bunch a fun smart asses, and if you ever wanted to have fun, they were always there for you. Unless the dreaded Fail Whale showed up (which meant Twitter was down) on the front page, which happened a lot back then. 

Twitter was a real gamechanger in social media. Until then, most social networks were basically a display of a profile that didn't change much over time. It wasn't like MySpace, exactly, which barely allowed the "evolution" of its users, but back then the status updates feed wasn't as crucial as it is today. In fact, if you updated your status a handful of times a day, most people would consider it annoying, and you were often unfriended because of that. The status update feature was not created to tell your story, but for you to share your general mood and/or a summary of what was happening in your life at that point. Twitter's format things was the complete opposite. Not only you were allowed to post multiple times a day, but you had to do it in order to be part of the community, which is what you wanted if you were really interested in networking, or just to make connections with cool people around the world who shared same interests with you. 

The Twitter community back then were indeed people who hoped these interactions would benefit them in some way: more clients, more fans of your music, more opportunities of employment, more friends, etc. But I never once felt like any of them were there to sell their crap. Most of them were genuinely interested in engaging with other people. 

The ones who were not on Twitter, or those who opened an account and then never used it because they thought it was stupid (why should I care about the tacos you ate?), didn't understand what Twitter was about. At first, I didn't understand it either. I opened my account in 2007 and in one year I had posted 2 or 3 times. I finally "got it" one boring December in North Carolina and with the help of a similar app called Twinkle, which you had the choice to link it to your Twitter account. It took a little over a couple of weeks, when BOOM! I finally saw it. It was almost like when I finally saw that fucking golden colored dress blue. Finally, all those posts about tacos made sense, they were what made Twitter human. 

When companies or "entrepreneurs" started using Twitter without having a clue, and all they did was to follow as many people as they could and post the same links that many others were posting, I would block them. On the other hand, people who talked about tacos were always welcome. You could say something about tacos in a clever way, and you would get many replies from followers and non-followers. Whenever something important happened, like when a celebrity dies, people would say something about the event, because you didn't want to waste dozens of your precious 140 characters on a URL that you had to copy/paste on your browser to check (no hyperlinks) and you knew people were not stupid, they could just google whatever it was. So you would express your opinion about the situation, and other people would too, and this generated many interactions among multiple users. What does people do now? They just re-post the fucking links of every piece of news they read from the same 5 sources everyone else already read.

When Twitter was cool, there were no celebrities there, meaning that everyone was at the same level. Someone very important or famous or or someone who had 100 followers, we were all the same. I got followed by Depeche Mode's official account, and I remember interacting with Alan McGee, the genius behind Creation Records, and with a pornstar who was popular at the time (I think), and both of them also followed me and every now and then would comment of my silly posts. Twitter was utopia.

Back when twitter was the king I remember how the mainstream media, which at that point were not using Twitter and were clueless about social media in general, would dismiss and ridicule Twitter because only "a very small percentage of the posts were actual valuable content", while most of them were posts about tacos. The "experts", who they often invited to discuss these issues on TV reports about Twitter, had only used Facebook up to that point (and never used MySpace because it was "for kids"). Obviously, they were never going get Twitter, and to this day they still don't understand what Twitter used to be. 

Then the "social media specialists and marketers" arrived and everything went to shit. It was the "social media experts" the ones who ruined Twitter forever, and almost overnight. They turned Twitter in what the media thought a useful social network should be, full of "valuable content". That's when you started reading the stupid posts like "10 tips to use Twitter" or "5 best practices to gain more followers" all the time. Many of those tips were just tricks to up your numbers, not to get followers that cared about you or what you had to say. And while these tricks are terrible practices, you could get 50000 followers very easily following those suggestions. People started seeing dollar signs, and Twitter exploded when all those new users came to Twitter looking for gold. Whenever I venture into Twitter, which I don't do too often anymore, I just get kinda sad because it sucks so much.

All those new users looked up to the social media experts because they had 100000 (zombie) followers, and they started following their advice. It was like all these people with robotic voices fell from the sky. Where are my tacos? People really bought their claims and believe that their suggestions were supposed to make you desirable to follow and cool. So Twitter went from a place to have conversations to a place to read news. A boring ass news feed, and news that are 3 days old and that come from the same sources everyone already reads.

Up to that point, your followers used to read your posts. It's not like that anymore.

Then it was just natural for Twitter to become the perfect celebrity promotion tool, and that's basically what it is now. Yes, there are normal people using Twitter too, yes, some people interact and read your posts, yes, you can still meet cool people there, you could say you are having the most amazing experience on Twitter right now, and it could even be true, but that doesn't change what I'm trying to say here. The Twitter for the people and by the people, the magical place where you would post every 10 minutes about your food, or the film you were watching, or about your boring/awesome job, every day and using as many offensive words as you wanted, which made a social network feel human for the first time, that twitter is gone. It was probably carried away by several little birds alongside the fail whale, and taken somewhere far far away to never return.

The end.

Original Poster's Response To My Comment:  

Cesar, I think this is my favorite of all your rants, probably because I completely agree with it. Twitter really was, pre-2011, such an amazing place to connect with creative, interesting people. When I reluctantly began a FB account, I'm now glad I reached out to the people I'd really felt a connection with on Twitter. I'm not sure I'd find those people again amid all the noise and commerce and fake tweets. As soon as I started seeing those "How to increase your followers" links, I thought it was insulting. Who invited marketers to our party? Who cared about the numbers? Apparently enough vapid people. The only time Twitter echoes a little bit of what it once was is during live events. Even then, it's hard to find the familiar voices. So, even with all of FB's flaws, at least I feel like some genuine dialogue still happens.

My Response To OP's Response To My Comment

The marketers don't need invitations. You should expect them wherever you go. Their impact is always negative, and often fatal, but not always. MySpace fell because of them, Google Plus never took off because they were already there, they dehumanized Twitter, and will continue being an annoyance in every single site where information can be seen by big numbers of people. I've said it before and I will say it again, social media marketers are the cancer of the internet.

This are some really wise words from one of my personal heroes:


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