The Twitter Reset debate

So if your Twitter account fell in the woods, would it make a sound? Or would anybody really care?

Without rehashing the Twitter events of last night, Leah Jones (no relation, although I do consider her a sista) and I were chatting about resetting our Twitter accounts and starting over. It happened to me about a month ago and Leah took the leap this week. Well, one thing led to another and some of the Twitter elite got pulled into the conversation (yeah, sorry about that). There was arguing, there was defensiveness and there was even some name calling.

After the smoke cleared and we had some time to think about it, Leah and I wanted to gather our thoughts. So here we go:

-I’m not saying everyone should delete their Twitter accounts. But you have to admit, if you did you’d really see who cares about you and who you care about. Like who you will be able to remember to follow, because I’m pretty sure you won’t remember all 20,000 people…or even an nth of that.

-What if you deleted your account and started over every time you reached, oh, I dunno, 2500? You’d cultivate your list again and again making those connections you have the most meaningful and worthwhile. They would not just be numbers anymore, but people you know and care about.

-Look, I don’t hate those folks with high follower counts. In fact, I appreciate their constant evangelism of all things social media. They are bringing attention to the space. And for that, I’m thankful.

-Different people use Twitter for different purposes. One of my main ones is to be entertained.

-If you’re following so many people that you need to use third-party tools to filter that stream, then what’s the point? You’re flitering out the noise. Why not turn the noise off completely?

-It’s just Twitter, people. Don’t get so uptight. It’s a freakin’ tool. Granted those with tens of thousands of followers have the “most” to lose if they hit the reset button, but maybe that’s the reason to do it. Finding your self-worth in an online world is a trap. We only “like” politically correct things on Facebook. We only post flattering pictures of ourselves. I know and see how this tool is beneficial for companies. But for individuals…as you can see, I struggle with it sometimes.

-Again, it’s just Twitter. There are about 75 million Twitter accounts and only 10 to 15 million of those are active (according to a study by RJMetrics in January of 2010). And new user sign-ups are on the decline. I’m sure something will come along and replace Twitter some day. But let’s keep things in perspective, okay?

And here are Leah’s thoughts:

– Any Gleeks out there? This is like quitting the Cheerios or the football team and finding out what you’re really made of and what relationships were strong. Know what? It was kind of scary. I talked it over with a couple people. What if, gasp, 7500 people never follow me again? I’ve lost my platform! Will that book publisher ever talk to me again? Will that guy with 10K followers date me?

– Neither of us kicked puppies, we quit our original Twitter accounts. We didn’t broker peace in the Middle East, we quit our original accounts.

– Twitter is great, I love it. This doesn’t erase my love or my anecdotes OR the relationships I built here. It just means I have to work harder to find some people.

– Finally, I hate when people make rules to follow for social media and I hate when people don’t follow my rules.

So if any feelings were hurt last night, I apologize. There were parts I could have handled better. But if we can’t use this medium to have discussions and (gasp) even disagree sometimes, then what use is it really?

10 Comments

  • May 20, 2010

    Dana Kirk

    I have to be honest, I actually was amused by the exchange last night between @spikejones and @thebrandbuilder. I have no idea what the history between you two is and I don’t really care. I’m just so tired of all the pseudo-positive, sycophantic tweets and re-tweets in the stream that it was kind of fun seeing a little cat fight. At least I knew it was real.

    Now shake hands and make up.

    Dana

  • May 20, 2010

    Heidi Cool

    I too lurked in the sidelines last night watching bits of the debate unfold. I think the main take-away is that there is no right or wrong way to use Twitter, and we each must find our own path. Granted there are some things we can (mostly) agree on, like disliking Twitter spam, but for the most part best and worst practices (as well as experiments) can vary by perspective. – @hacool

  • May 20, 2010

    Marjie

    I was so excited when I discovered the conversation going on last night…I tweeted about it. I was having a blast watching it unfold. I called my husband over to see what was going on… we both found it very entertaining and thought provoking!
    So, thanks for last night! ;)

  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Emily S. Furrow, John Kochmanski. John Kochmanski said: Two good reads on question of "resetting" Twitter account: http://bit.ly/adNSZb (via @chicagoleah) & http://bit.ly/a89vMU (via @spikejones) […]

  • May 22, 2010

    Bruce

    I have to be honest, I actually was amused by the exchange last night between @spikejones and @thebrandbuilder. I have no idea what the history between you two is and I don’t really care. I’m just so tired of all the pseudo-positive, sycophantic tweets and re-tweets in the stream that it was kind of fun seeing a little cat fight. At least I knew it was real.

    Now shake hands and make up.

    Dana

  • May 24, 2010

    Jake McKee

    I love the point you’re getting at, whether I choose to delete my account or not.

    I’ve been sadden at some of the people I once considered friends getting so very, very sucked into their own press lately. Press that they’ve largely created. The ego-laced tweets have turned me off of not only certain people, but in some ways, Twitter at large.

    A while back, I started culling down the list of people I followed – specifically for the reason you talked about: If you need tools to help you deal with the stream, what’s the point. Two things struck me as odd…. no, as f**king irritating:

    1. When I did this, I felt I needed to explain (via my twitter stream) that if I didn’t follow you anymore, then it wasn’t a personal statement on your worth to me.

    2. That when I mentioned this, I had several “experts” tell me that I was (in effect) moral bankrupt because I was not just broadcasting rather than participating.

    I’m so very tired of people who have granted themselves “expert status”, while others see a lot of content published and support that granting. I’m tired of their rules. I’m tired of their celebrity mindset without any real celebrity. I love what I do, but I’m sure tired of the industry I do it in.

    Spike, you said it best: I can’t spend all day on Twitter, I have a real job.

  • May 26, 2010

    Jessica Smith

    Your post really spoke to me as well as the comments here. I’ve been tweeting almost everyday for over 2 years now and I miss the depth of conversation that I used to have at the beginning. Recently, I changed my Twitter name but kept my old one (won’t put it here because of what I’m about to tell you), however, I get more followers everyday to that old Twitter account than with the renamed one. I think this happens for two reasons – the tools using Twitter’s API to auto-follow and that my old Twitter name is linked in quite a few places.

    I too, don’t think there should be rules for Twitter.

    I also don’t think that just because it’s easy to create an account on Twitter, doesn’t mean every company should.

    Glad to call you a colleague and I’m sorry I missed what sounds like quite the debate!

  • May 27, 2010

    Chris D

    At some point, playing in front of thousands of people is just not as much fun as jamming with friends.

  • May 27, 2010

    Elizabeth Norton

    I just want to say that I found you after you switched names. Met you at #sofresh. and I really wish you had an email subscription on your blog so I could get a daily update when you update. Other then that….I understand your points and agree a lot…..specially with this statement.

    “We only “like” politically correct things on Facebook. We only post flattering pictures of ourselves. I know and see how this tool is beneficial for companies. But for individuals…as you can see, I struggle with it sometimes.”

  • May 27, 2010

    Andrew Mueller

    Spike,

    As you know, twitter is an asymmetrical network. What is the benefit to a complete reset over simply deleting everyone you follow. Others have cleared their followers before and then re-followed only true connections. This would seem to have served your purpose and allowed those who found your tweets of value to continue to follow?

    Just curious,
    Andrew

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