You can even tell how much it affects the minds of people who are prolific other places. Writers for tech blogs stop writing about useful shit and start writing about the reactions of twitter posts. You can see how the self obsession causes people to try to craft those perfect 140 characters. Everyone thinks they are a comedian.
In the end I found that no matter how diverse your followership, Twitter is a hopeless echo chamber populated by twentysomethings with no real life experience who are chomping at the bit to eat you alive if you don't conform to the enforced political correctness of the moment.
I'll never go back.
I wouldn't quite go that far; I barely use Twitter - the concept is not appealing to me and I really don't care for the type of interaction it enables, but to call it an echo chamber is basically the same as calling the Internet an echo chamber. You are limited by your decisions on who you want to associate with and who you want to read. The suggestions may be tailored to you, but ultimately you pick. Anyone can find an echo chamber for themselves on Twitter.
Many businesses have found a lot of value in Twitter - status accounts, event updates, and so on are handled really well through Twitter as the platform lends itself to subscription via text as well; I've used it successfully in the past for such purposes and we never had a problem with it.
How you decide to invest yourself in the system will determine your experience. The social interaction part of twitter isn't for me because it's not really the kind of conversations I like and I find the format limiting. But that doesn't mean it's a bad system, it's just not my cup of tea,
But Twitter doesn't even guarantee that your followers will see all of these updates.¹ Wouldn't RSS or email be more reliable?
During all our checks, we never had anyone complains they didn't get the notification via the normal Twitter update or SMS.
Per your link, the opening paragraph seems to summarize that it's "possible", but there really hasn't been evidence. I would frankly assume the same for all services.
In our use-case with the notification, we wanted a redundant system along side our System Status Dashboard (which supported RSS) in order to allow people to check in case the Dashboard was inaccessible. (e.g., consider a scenario where campus intranet goes down and different buildings cannot get an outgoing connection past their switch - redundant update from Twitter allows for this)
Plus, quite frankly, most of our target audience wouldn't bother with RSS :p I know and you know it's easy, but we needed to get people who had little to no technical education quickly connected. It was a lot easier to tell them "text 40404 follow [account]" than to set up the rest.
For example, I've witnessed game developers who were making truly beautiful things, who got stonewalled because they wouldn't drink the current koolaid. That flavor of koolaid at the moment happens to be the results of the election and defining where you stand. A few years back, I saw great indie companies getting blackballed because of anything less than purist views on subjects like gamergate.
I do think you can penetrate and market well on Twitter, but it comes with quite a few ifs. Maybe this comes, for the first time, with having a marketing platform with instant human feedback (note: I did not say customer).
I think that's ok. We used to have a notion that a product is just a product, and we should all just pretend the people making it are apolitical and enjoy the product on its own merits.
But that leads to a world where resources pool up in random places. This guy has a billion dollars because he makes a beverage a lot of people like? Why? Are beverage skills the barometer for deciding how resources are allocated?
I should note that this system works OK when there is an additional pool of public resources that people can rely on. If private revenue is "spending cash" but the state still controls its natural resources, and cities have a commons, and extended families take care of each other, things are kind of OK.
But that's over now, we are privatizing 100% of resources, so now revenue really has to be a perfect proxy for how we think resources should be allocated, from a social/moral perspective.
So now we are moving to a world where that guy needs to not only make a nice beverage but he needs to show that he shares our values, because we're not just buying a soda, we are deciding who will starve, which ecosystems will be destroyed, and what kinds of people will be unemployed.
If someone needs an indie game maker to disavow feminist commentators in order to feel comfortable buying a game... well, I disagree with the moral stance, but I support very much that person's right to spend their money and influence that way. We have no other choice in a capitalist system.
Quite frankly, I'm not sure I see the problem with people adhering to their beliefs and standards, and a call for boycott is one of the methods for expressing distaste. It's one tool of many. I may not agree with what people decide to boycott or for the reason they do, but it's their choice to do so. Being on Twitter puts you in a public forum and as such, you are vulnerable and accessible by such protests, and this is how it should be. Counter groups are perfectly allowed to form, and the artist is not stopped from being an arist. (Varg may be an exception here, but I do not doubt that quite a few people really disagreed with his political and social viewpoints, and yet he kept doing what he did regardless, and they kept listening. Those that were too put off just stopped)
Twitter allows for the sort of witch-hunts for any such thing a group desires to be done instantly, with very little cost to the person posting, and with very few reprecussions. We see it from the mass boycotts to unmitigated and open racism on the platform. It's part of the rush and the good feeling of social media, the feel of being part of a crowd or a part of something bigger. I get that it's intimidating, but that's part of being connected to an entire world and audience - sometimes the audience disapproves, and they disapprove harshly.
I would argue that there are fundamental aspects of Twitter's design that make it particularly bad in these respects: https://jasonlefkowitz.net/2013/02/i-kind-of-hate-twitter/
Saying that Twitter is a "giant bullshit factory" "populated by twentysomethings with no real life experience" is a generalization that invalidates everyone who doesn't fall into your stereotype.
I, myself, am getting too caught up in it all.
Social media has always been incredibly self-centered and narcissistic. But over the last few years it has become a truly nasty place with all the flame wars and political crap going on. Everyone has something to say. And no one listens to anyone else. I have no use for such a medium in my life.
Twitter is by far the worst of all social media because of the limited message length. No well-reasoned arguments can be expressed in that short limit so we are instead left with a battle for the snarkiest, most sarcastic comments people can muster.
The so-called "discourse" in America (and probably the world) has reached a new pathetic low. I am confident I am not missing out on anything of actual value.
I'd add that I don't think current social media tools are much different than my experience of Usenet and Listservs of yore. Or HN. Or the offline world where a lot of people are thrown together, like schools and workplaces. People are people.
As an introvert, I pretty easily get tired of people, so I can sympathize with your reaction. And I go through periods of seeing the worst in people. But that's more about what I'm seeing than about what people are.
You actually have a good point, but by overstressing the similarities of social behavior on different sites you make the point weaker. We do some similar self promotion and efforts to improve how others perceive us in face-to-face interactions as well, but no one would refer to that as "social media".
You're not wrong, but I do think it's fun and cathartic. But you do have to keep it in the context of "this is just people being pithy" and not use it as a primary source. This is more difficult than it sounds, and maybe not worth the damage it causes when people get it wrong.
Facebook to a lesser extent - that platform is still a useful means to communicate with family who are scattered wide.
By far, I am really enjoying Instagram at the moment - it is SO much more peaceful and non-confrontational. I only have a tiny couple of hundred followers, and am following about the same number of friends, musicians, guitar makers, tea manufacturers and such. It is just nice to sit back and scroll through my feed and see uplifting images with NO arguments or one upmanship or sniping going on...
Surely the answer there is "follow better people"?
I am no innocent, as I have contributed a bit myself of late - it is hard to suppress that welling of indignation, anger and frustration sometimes.
Perhaps instagram is immune to that because it's harder to articulate the "I'm angry" emotion with a camera ?
I think this is where I differ with the author of the article is that the expectation of return for me from Twitter is zero. If I go a day without checking, I don't care. If I post something to it that dies on the vine, I don't care. Sometimes I get likes, sometimes retweets, but nothing I put out there is expected to have a return.
I view the article author's point as using Twitter as a platform, and she is getting her value out of it. I look at it like a giant party where I can eavesdrop on interesting people and sometimes say something - sometimes people talk back, sometimes I'm taking to myself in the corner. I'm fine with it, and happy to be at the party.
Hacker News is the only place I visit and thought HN the websites too. I have visited HN every night for the past 4 or 5 years. It gives me everything I need, I need to stay away from politics though because I don't agree with majority here and discussing things makes me depressed.
I find it remarkable how much better my life feels already. I have so much more focus, energy, and concentration to devote to my work. I don't have the constant nagging at the back of my mind to mindlessly scroll. Left without an easy escape, I find my focus tends to go towards actually creating things. And if I feel the itch to interact with people, it's more of a one-on-one interaction.
I highly recommend trying it.
I am so sick of politics (all sides)
I'm honestly surprised on how much things like SnapChat, and even Facebook are still growing. It must be just the very young crowd, that hasn't gotten completely sick of it by now.
Also the older crowd. My mother loves telling me what she saw on facebook. I'd be willing to bet it's just the millennial demographic in the middle that shows low social media usage.
EDIT: Btw, which news sites?
Edit: Quick scan of google news, and arstechnica is basically enough to get today's info out of the way.
Trying to get more followers seems to be the bad thing.
This pervades social media culture and as is noted in the article-- a user knows it is taking a toll but the rush is a driving factor. It is like drug, or any addiction-- captivating and hard to break.
Decent article, nice change of pace from other articles recently.
Hopefully another few weeks will cure me of this, although after 10 years, I suspect it might take much longer.
One example close to the heart of HN: following tptacek/tqbf for crypto/business/security/how-to-cook-pork/funny-ESR-excerpts for years has suddenly turned into endless berating of people into enduring struggle sessions over support of the President.
And this is but one example. It's happening to everybody. For some reason, the inauguration has turned nominally good Tweeps into horrible human beings.
So yes, I've had to leave Twitter also.
However, I quit Twitter because it wouldn't let me control my own data. I was in the habit of favoriting things that I wanted to follow-up on. Then Twitter changed Favorites to "likes," which wrongly implies I'm endorsing the content. Twitterati know that likes don't necessarily mean anything, but imagine a customs officer looking at my likes, for example. Twitter doesn't provide a method to batch remove all likes, so I tried various 3rd party utilities. The utilities seemed to work initially, but likes would later reappear, even months later, as if restored from a backup.
This experience helped me see that silos can never be trusted.
I treat my Twitter account as a personal account. I don't tweet very much, and if I want to take a week off, I don't even check Twitter. I am happy I did that, because I'd hate to feel an obligation to be on there now that everything is politics.
Relevance to Twitter? (a) Twitter as its worst is still 10x better than this sort of thing; (b) Twitter's Following page doesn't work properly at this resolution either.