Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The problem with Twitter is you, not Twitter

Don't shoot the messenger.
The Washington Post Wonkblog's editor, Ezra Klein, posted a provocative post about 'The problem with Twitter' on Monday, citing the platform's "unusually addictive" nature as a reason for experiencing "poisonous information anxiety" — what others have referred to as Fear Of Missing Out.

Let me address some good points he makes and some suggestions to improve his experience.

* First, it's worth noting he concedes this:  
"The problem isn’t Twitter, exactly. Twitter, like so much else, is excellent when consumed in moderation." (emphasis mine)
 So right there you have a potential solution to this "problem." The aformentioned "poisonous information anxiety" Klein cites is because, as he states, "I can’t save Twitter for later, and thus there’s always a pressure to check Twitter now." This is true, if that's how you use Twitter - and it's understandable if you end up in that pattern. Worse, he adds, "the daily signal-to-noise ratio isn’t that high, at least for me."

PRO-TIP: That's what the unfollow button is for.

But wait! Klein goes further after this is suggested to him (multiple times):

"Perhaps this is just my failing, but I don't feel like the unfollow button is much of an option. There's a kind of social etiquette to follows in journalism, and people get really, really offended if you try to unfollow them. It's not worth the bother. Now, lists could, in theory, help with this, but in truth, I would ideally like to be able to dip into the content of a wide variety of Twitter feeds in some more manageable fashion. "
For the record, there's no "kind of social etiquette to follows in journalism" that I've ever heard of. But here's a tip if you do that: Don't follow your main stream. If you feel compelled to follow people for some weird etiquette thingy, use lists. Even better, you don't have to follow people you put on lists, but they'll  get a notification that you've added them to one. So they'll be happy, and you don't have to put up with stuff like this:

* "I need to figure out a better, more contained, way to use (Twitter)." You can use Muckrack if you want an excellent journalim feed. Or you can head over to paper.li and create whatever you want as a feed, be it a hashtag, news about a particular topic, your own feed or lists or cats if that's what you're into to (because, who isn't?). Or use Flipboard or make your own "Magazine." Or make a Rebelmouse page where you can feed your favorites. Or, I don't know, how about these 20 other alternatives to filter out your stuff exactly how you want it? Puzzling point, Klein knows these.

So I guess the main thing to do is to figure out what you need and want from a platform and maybe don't have a trolling headline if you don't want a strong reaction (like having a headline saying "the problem with Twitter" and then saying "the problem isn't Twitter.").