I enjoy putting my links on Twitter and will continue to do so for as long as it exists, but it’s becoming increasingly delusional to think that this is either a gratifying or even career-enhancing activity. A lot of the energy seems to have been sucked out of the social-networking venue the past few years as people tire of the format and leap onto other sites that are giving them more of a contempo rise.
Continuing to participate in it, I feel like someone who’s still twerking after the dance floor has been cleared, and it’s starting to feel a bit weird. Here are the 10 reasons Twitter’s only for twits nowadays:
1. In the age of communal A.D.D., 140 characters is actually too much to handle for people! A sentence or two is too hard to absorb when you can just head over to Instagram and look at cat pictures.
2. Conversely, the few people looking for serious discussions of relevant topics have found that the 140-character limit puts a hamper on anything substantive. When twitterers try to sum up the North Korea situation in a handful of sarcastic words, it’s disturbing, and when two cops are shot and people line up to tweet, “R.I.P., cops,” it’s downright insulting. These endlessly dismissive comments actually have some people returning to newspapers!
3. There’s the added pressure of having to tag all those people and add all those cute hashtags. You can’t just toss off a tweet, you have to lace it with extra trimmings, which is embarrassing, especially when you think you’re tagging a celebrity but are actually tagging some girl in Iowa who likes them.
4. There’s an irritating sense of repetition. Cher is angry at politicians. Paris Hilton is doing a store opening. Gaga has some new song to promote. And I need to know this once again because …?
5. The famous people you really want to hear from won’t tweet at all. George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Jennifer Lawrence, Bill Murray, Robert DeNiro and Larry David are absent from the venue, finding it dumb or unnecessary or scary. And the celebs that are on twitter never follow you back or answer your serious queries. What good are they?
6. The array of tweets is so damned boring. You’re assaulted with useless, spammy things (“Take style to new heights with LED headlights in a 2015 #Corolla. Learn more. toyota.us/1GVjnNd. #LetsGoPlaces”) and also the banal revelations from people you don’t care about (“So sick. Not fun at all. Ugh” or “Eating ice cream. Trying to decide whether to watch ‘My Neighbor Totoro’ again tonight or ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’”). And, of course, there’s the wan cross-pollination (“I posted a new photo to Facebook”). It’s just so deadening. You want to yell, “Shut up!” — and that definitely is under 140 characters.
7. Everyone’s a smartass. There is the occasional witty observation (“If someone on Grindr says they’re bi, they’re usually bipolar”), but mostly it’s just continuous one-liners, glib utterances and cutesy remarks. Everyone seeming to be auditioning for the standup spot on late-night talk shows.
8. You have to constantly make decisions about who to follow back. I’ve decided that if anyone credible in media follows me, I should return the favor, since they might give me a job someday. But you also have to handpick certain names out of the blue to follow, and the possibilities are endless, from celebs to editors to complete nobodies who sound vaguely interesting based on their self-description or their number of followers. Alas, the more people you follow, the steadier is the stream of crap that keeps coming at you 24 hours a day. It’s overwhelming and mind-numbing at the same time, and usually you don’t even want to look at your feed for fear of your head exploding. And if you look again at the people who’ve just followed you, it’s usually folks who have a graphic novel, Kickstarter campaign or indie movie about to come out. In other words, they want something from you, so what was supposed to be a fun exercise has become an act of total charity!
9. Your tweets get amazingly dumb responses. I recently sent out a link to my piece about the most so-so movies of 2014, and someone extremely brain-dead replied that I’d left out “Party Monster!” When I sent out my article about how Ariana’s brother, Frankie Grande, is romantically available, his little monsters lined up to screech that it wasn’t true. This even though he’d said so in my link, and personally replied to my tweet saying, “You’re correct! I’m SO AVAILABLE!” You get carpal tunnel from trying to block every little idiot.
10. All the favorites and retweets in the world don’t seem to get you more traffic. When people just “favorite” your link, you want to scream that this is barely helping you, and they should have had the decency to retweet it. But even if they did, it doesn’t make that much of a difference because everyone feels like you do — that there’s a steady stream of bilge coming at them, and it’s unmanageable. Out of frustration, I — like everyone else — just keep tweeting the same thing over and over again, but phrased a little differently, and the result makes for even more junk clogging up people’s lives. Fortunately, my work is so wildly popular on its own that I don’t need any help from Twitter. (Oh, hush. It’s true.) But just in case, I’m going there right now to send out this very article. Please don’t favorite it!
Michael Musto is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine.