John Mayer aka jhnmyr talks about Twitter in his recent blog entry, “Twitter Isn’t “Over”, I’m Over It.” In it he brings up a few interesting points:
By no means do I think it’s over as a medium altogether, but I do think that the days of “Twitter: The Breakthrough” have passed, as has been and will continue to be the case for every online social network. It’s reached it’s cruising altitude, so to speak. Patterns and templates are emerging. The Twitter-bred syntax isn’t really doing it for me anymore.
I cannot help but agree that the growing season for Twitter is nearing an end. Rules have been established, a style guide now exists. The teenager that was trying to find it’s voice is now comfortable in it’s own skin and is now comfortable just being themselves. (how’s that for a terrible metaphor?). But I don’t see this as a bad thing. Sure, we all like growth, but at some point it’s important to say enough’s enough (something Facebook has yet understand).
However it’s in Mayer’s next paragraph where our opinions begin to differ.
And call me crazy, but I don’t think it’s the healthiest thing in the world to read scads of mentions/@replies and effectively open the floodgate of other people’s approval/disapproval. Finding out in 140 characters what a stranger has to say about you is like a mathematical equation without an established value of ‘x’. Who are you, stranger? What do you stand for? What do you like, and if it’s not me, then what does move you? What DO you look up to? Once I find that out, I’ll know how disappointed I should be.
Now, granted. I’m not one of the biggest celebrities on the planet (which, like it or not, Mr. Mayer is, and rightfully so), so I don’t have this issue. Many of my real followers (that is to say, those who actually chose to follow me, as opposed to bots who auto follow me) are people I know and care about. These are the people I hold conversations with on Twitter. They may be friends from school, or in some cases people I rarely see. In even rarer cases they may be people I’ve never actually met in person, but whom I still consider friends (yes Samantha, I’m looking in your direction).
It’s that last category that is key to Twitter. Because along with those people are the people whom I’ve never met, ever, who live around the world, that stumbled across a tweet of mine and decided to reply. Perhaps it’s to tell me off. Perhaps it’s to agree. Perhaps it’ll be a fleeting moment. But perhaps, as in those rare cases, it begins a conversation, and in a weird way a friendship.
I think this is what is at the heart of Twitter. Not just simple blasts of 140 characters about what you’re currently eating at the moment. It can be that if you want it to be, but if you take that approach you’ll soon get bored. If you use Twitter the way it was intended you’ll find yourself, like me, sticking around for many years and meeting some really cool people along the way.
That said, the system breaks down when you’re a celebrity, or at least a huge A-List Celebrity, which is perhaps where Mr. Mayer is troubled. It’s hard to hold a conversation when you’re constantly inondated with garbage tweets from some ass-hat telling you that he can play that Clapton lick 10x better than you, or some teenaged tart explaining all the beautiful and illegal things she wants to do to you (though, I’ll be honest, I probably wouldn’t complain about the later). In this respect I understand Mr. Mayer’s conundrum: if you can’t hold a conversation you’re left tweeting about the awesome new tones you’re discovering. And after a while you get bored.
Minor celebrities may still have this problem, but certainly not to the same degree. Maybe I was lucky that I caught Josh Malina on a slow day which meant he could take the time to personally Direct Message me his thanks about my kind words about the show he was on. But, the fact is, you’ve probably never even heard of the guy, which may account for why Twitter works for him. But I would find it very hard to believe that anyone reading this has never heard of John Mayer (and if you haven’t, where the hell have you been the last 5 years?).
So, I guess what I’m saying is I’ll stick with Twitter. But I’ll stick with Tumblr too. They’re two different mediums, and I welcome Mr. Mayer with open arms to the world of Tumblr. But I hope he realizes that he’ll always have to deal with dick head strangers telling him why he’s an idiot. But so long as he knows that they’re just dick-head strangers, he’ll be fine.
And so long as he keeps bringing us music like this I won’t complain.
Oh, and PS. John: if you ever read this (which I’m sure you wont) and you ever are looking for a young red-headed Canadian to make some silly videos with not only would I totally be up for it, I’d do it for free… just sayin.