I love being on Twitter, absolutely love it. And there are so many different kinds of Tweeters and reasons for Tweeting – my presence is partly for the sheer entertainment (sometimes I have laughed so hard I thought I’d die), partly to keep up with blog friends, partly to catch up with news and opinion and partly to flag up my blog.
After two years of Tweeting and having gathered nearly 11,000 followers and sending 37,000 tweets (eek) I think I’m in a good place to catch the zeitgeist of Twitter.
It can be a truly supportive, embracing and friendly place – the people I’ve met via Twitter in the main have been charming and lovely. When we’ve met up in ‘real life’, it has like we’ve known each other for nearly ever. Conversation just flows. There isn’t anything else like it and I feel very blessed for the Twitter friends I’ve made.
But, there’s also a different culture on Twitter that if you get caught up in can make it a hellish place. With so many personalities at play there will inevitably be disagreements but Twitter is no place to air them. The minute you step outside the comfort zone of others you can turn into a target. Watching others publicly announce they’re ‘switching to DM’ after taking sides in a spat is akin to a playground huddle, where you know everyone’s whispering about you. There is no more miserable state, other than in the playground I guess. Only this isn’t childish stuff. You can bully by exclusion very easily on Twitter and you can behave in a way where you don’t need courage to vocalise your thoughts – you just need a clique and your DM timeline. The difference between a clique and a friendly group? The public exclusion of others, the ganging up and the silent treatment.
Sometimes people need to validate themselves and there is nothing more boosting to self-esteem than a busy Twitter timeline where everyone is your ‘friend’. But Twitter isn’t like that for everyone. Just as in life, a pack can spot the weak. Not everyone knows how to behave; you have to kind of learn your way around Tweeting somewhat and it’s easy to spot a Twitter newbie by their clanging errors in trying to assert their personality. I certainly haven’t behaved myself over the years but I wouldn’t say now on Twitter what I used to say back when I first started. The Tweeters I gravitate to mostly are beauty bloggers, the occasional fashionista (male and female) and other writers, but that doesn’t exclude people from all walks of life – I’d never have access to their thoughts and opinions anywhere else. It’s a fantastic, challenging and energising place to be when the mood is sweet; when it isn’t it just ain’t pretty at all.
It’s all too easy to vent on Twitter, all too simple to throw a few unwise words out into the ether and all too easy to forget that the people you meet on Twitter aren’t (usually) your real-life friends. They’ve got no vested interest in you, no common history and no emotional bond. Twitter is the perfect place for surface interests, easy chatter, sharing and fun, if that’s how it’s turned out for you.
Don’t forget though, that for all the people that do chat with you, there are lots who literally never speak so you are barely aware they are there. If you have a lot of followers, it’s impossible to keep up with who follows just to watch what you are saying. They’re gathering opinion, checking out the conversations and looking out for anything positive or negative about that could be useful in data. Personally, I can’t bear a lurker.. in my case they are often PRs and brands just checking up or checking out what’s going on but you cannot capture the true Twitter unless you are an active participant.