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Why Twitter?

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Back in April, partner Steve Rowen penned a piece titled, “Why Facebook? ” It wasn’t terribly flattering to the platform. Since I didn’t quite agree with him, and RSR has no party line, I penned a piece the next week titled “Counterpoint: In Defense Of Facebook. ” Short strokes: I find it very useful and it has helped me deepen many pre-existing relationships.

Today it’s my turn to ask a similar question, “Why Twitter? ” I am not at all sure this thing should exist in its current form at all.

My relationship with Twitter was always pretty arm’s length. I’d periodically tweet interesting tidbits from keynote speeches at conferences and use those tweets to help me remember what I’d seen and heard. I have always posted links to my Forbes pieces (few and far between these days) on Twitter, and lately have also been tweeting links to our research and its offshoots.

But there was always this “fourth wall. ” I never got personal. It was me, an audience, and occasionally, I’d check on a bit of news. I am followed more than I follow.

Some time ago, for reasons that are likely obvious to those who know me, I began breaching that “fourth wall ” (yes, I know this is not the perfect usage of the phrase, but it makes a point). And the more I see, the less I like.

The easy thing to say is that I definitely don’t want government proclamations made through Twitter, but that’s just a part of it. It’s bizarre, but there’s more to it than that.

Think about it:

  • Most other social networks require some kind of handshake between two parties before interaction can begin. Someone “friends you ” on Facebook, or sends a connection request on LinkedIn. Instagram is more a showcase than a conversational exercise, so following makes sense there, though truth be told, I don’t use it much.
  • Anyone can follow anyone else on Twitter, and anyone can comment on anything in a tweet. That means you get to interact with people that you would really prefer to never meet, talk to or otherwise engage with in real life.
  • You can be trolled and apart from blocking the person, there’s not much you can do about it. No one is immune. No matter how rich or how poor.

So my question is, “Who needs this, and why? ” For my work stuff, I can use LinkedIn (and sometimes Facebook). For my personal stuff, it’s Facebook or that old-fashioned notion of conversations with friends.

Here’s what brought this into sharp relief. I’m going to attempt to blind all the people involved, since I didn’t have their permission to comment either.

Someone I greatly respect posted a link to an article in the NY Times about a very high-level person in industry becoming enlightened and spiritual after a 6 week “Guru tour ” of India. This bugged me. Why? Because I’ve been practicing meditation (with and without Guru) for a lot longer than the writer has likely been alive. I can say with great assurance that enlightenment is a moment to moment thing. One moment you’re on, the next moment you’re the same kid from Brooklyn that got into fights in the schoolyard (yeah, that one is true, too). A human body (and mind) and interaction with the temporal world seems to take all the air out of the notion of permanent Nirvana. Maybe it’s achievable in a cave, but truthfully, I tried something like that too. Sooner or later you have to come down from the mountain.

So I tweeted “Here’s a tip. A six week “Guru Tour ” is not going to lead to enlightenment. That’s not how it works. ” In seconds a person who I did not know at all had replied to this tweet, all over me….calling me condescending and judgmental and several other unfriendly terms. I replied, “Look, this is what I’ve been doing and what I’ve experienced. ” The woman went ballistic, and wrote back (basically) that I was an unconscious idiot and she was going to block me. Okay, fine. I happened to look at her profile in between tweets, before she blocked me and (wait for it) she bills herself as a meditation teacher. Lucky for all of us, I don’t remember her name. So here’s another unsolicited tip: beware of meditation teachers bearing fake credentials. I mean, she couldn’t even control herself through two tweets. That’s a bit hypersensitive. Enlightenment, anyone?

But after that very brief experience, I asked myself… why do I need or want this?

I can post longer stories about events that I’ve attended both in our weekly newsletter and on LinkedIn. I can find out the news any number of real and not-so-real places. In fact, I check Snopes after reading almost everything these days. So why do I need Twitter?

As far as I’m concerned, the thing could disappear tomorrow. It hasn’t served me personally, I don’t think it’s served us in the U.S. as a country, and I’m not sure it’s doing much for the world at large, either. It’s a rant fest, and changing the number of characters from 140 to 280 per tweet hasn’t exactly made for more stimulating conversation.

If my partners really want me to, I’ll continue to post links to our stuff, but I’m not quite sure why we need that anyway. I was at an event a few weeks ago and Kevin O’Leary of “Shark Tank ” fame said a very accurate thing: LinkedIn has come out of nowhere to be the place to be in business over the past eighteen months. It’s useful.

For the rest of it, I’m pretty well done.

So let me ask you… do you think Twitter serves a purpose? And why? What purpose is that, exactly?

That’s it for today. Peace out.

Newsletter Articles June 19, 2018
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