Sunday, April 27, 2008
Twitter: Example of a failing race
First of all I want to say that this post is nothing negative towards Twitter as a service, company, or concept. I love Twitter and I still continue to embrace it (even if it is sometimes unreliable). What this post is about is how the human race continues to self-destruct because of a growing "logic" that is counter to what we are designed for.
When I first started using Twitter it was only because I thought it would be a way of updating my clients to let them know which building I was in and whether I was able to take on extra projects that day. As for the concept of Twitter, I thought it was absolutely retarded. I had the reaction that pretty much everyone that hasn't tried Twitter has: "Why do I care that someone is eating a cheese sandwhich?" It wasn't until I set up my Twitter account that I realized the community was a breeding ground for very strong relationships because what everyone's tweets were was simply daily life. It was them in a very unfiltered way. Because of this you start to understand a lot more about people and you find ways to connect with them that you never would have in any other fashion. Sure there are blogs but the majority of blogs are passed through our internal editor (aka, IMO, the frontal lobe) and is dulled down and made to be exciting or made to hide true emotions. It wasn't until what happened with the Frozen Pea Fund that I fully realized the potential of what the community inside of Twitter held. A couple years ago everyone would have said it was crazy to want to tell the world that you are holding a bag of frozen peas against your breasts.... but now we see where the "stupid" little things make a huge difference when a single tweet, stating just that, launched a movement that has raised many of thousands of dollars for breast cancer research.
But what happened? One of my tweets last night said "Starting to feel like I'm tweeting to the wall".... and I started thinking about that. Twitter used to be a place where I had a lot of encouragement when I was down. If I said something was bugging me, there were people that responded with advice or even just a simple "I'm thinking of you" but now I notice less and less replies to anything that I am saying. Interestingly enough, I start feeling this way around the same time that "Follow Spam" is becoming a heated topic. On top of that, it seems like the people that embraced Twitter for the community that it was are now more concerned about their "numbers" than about what is actually going on in people's lives. The concept of more followers is interpreted as cash value to so many people now and it's gone so far as someone selling their Twitter account on eBay.
So now it appears that Twitter has progressed into a medium to make money while losing the concept of community and compassion that was what brought people to Twitter in the first place. I think its great that there are people who have Twitter accounts to broadcast news and I think its great when a person shares a story that really jumps out at them because these are all part of the community but where the community is starting to self-destruct is when the focus becomes getting more followers rather than recognizing the followers that you do have. More and more tweets are being consumed by "I'm almost at 500 followers and need 8 more" while 492 people now don't matter because they already are a follower. Of course once you have someone following you it's rude not to follow them and now it's also a sure sign of many spammers so you, in turn, have to follow the 500 people that are following you and, in doing so, you eliminate the ability to genuinely care about the people you follow simply because you are overloaded and don't have the time to care about the person that is eating the cheese sandwhich and we revert back to life before Twitter except that now we drive ourselves to post tweets and now it's another "task" that we have to do rather than something we want to do.
The whole timeline of Twitter has displayed exactly why we, as humans, simply can't seem to be happy anymore. We focus on everything in ways that it can be turned into money, add stress to our lives, and lose any kind of compassion that we have on anyone else. Interestingly enough I think the reason why Twitter and just about any other social network gains such a following in the beginning is because our human emotions are so starved for interaction in this face paced world. Social networking allows us to interact with real humans while being "on the go" but the problem is that the world teaches us that the most important thing is to make money so we end up self-destructing any process that gives us that interaction by trying to monetize the most important thing to the human race: emotional stimulation. Once emotional stimulation is monetized it becomes a job rather than an enjoyment.
In 1997 after Steve Jobs rejoined Apple Computer, he made an annoucement at his keynote that Apple Computer was joining forces with Microsoft. Steve, who has an almost cult-like following, was literally booed. Steve's response was "we have to let go of this notion that for Apple to win, Microsoft has to lose". Steve went on to say if someone wants to help them then that's great because they need all they help they can get. The reality of the human race is just that. We all truly do need all the help we can get. I don't care how much money you make or what you have -- you still need other people's help and they need yours. When those 492 people don't matter because you are trying to get a mere 8 more and you focus on those 8 people you are trading 492 people that could potentially be those that will help you in exchange for only 8. It's so true that everyone's focus is on acquiring more that they lose any consideration to what they do have and it creates a perpetual greed cycle which, sadly, is becomming just as true with regards to emotions and compassion than it is with money.
Our society certainly is self-destructing and we're doing it because we turn our advancements into things that only set us back because the prize is always what is ahead and never what is already there. We're in a vicious cycle that is only gaining more and more force with each advancement and, while we are solving one or two problems with advancements, we are creating 5 more. The end result is that we display an image of advancement but in each person's lives we realize that it really is just that: nothing more than an image.
(C)2003-2008, Bob K Mertz - Some Rights Reserved