Twitter Fatigue

January 17, 2011

The phases of Twitter are well documented.

Whether there are Six phases or Forty-Six, the extremes are what I like to call Attrition to Addiction.

First, they tell you, you’ll dismiss Twitter as far too overwhelming. You’ll abandon, possibly for months and return only reluctantly because people you respect keep telling you it’s not what you think.

And then you’re hooked.

The fun, for research nerds like myself, is discovering what people respond to and how to effectively be heard over the din of millions. It’s watching a personality emerge in 140 characters until you just can’t wait to meet this brilliant, hilarious, ravenous, succinct, and simpatico-in-every-way gadabout behind the quip.

I do not recall my first real tweet but I believe it was in August 2008.  (A free Wow Bao treat for the first person to sift through all 20,000+ of mine to post the first in the comments.  Must redeem in Chicago.)

It began slowly, as it always does. Testing the waters. Coming to terms with the utter narcissism of it all. Getting into the proverbial groove.

I have blogged about the Phonatics timeline, which marks the beginning of my “Addiction” phase. As I approach the end of 2010, I realize that my entire social and professional life this year has been informed and influenced by Twitter.

Attrition to Addiction.

But what comes next? Because that’s where I am.

I propose that the next in the Twitter timeline of phases is Fatigue.

Fatigue is characterized by, but not limited to, the following:

  • You dread planning tweetups because the people you love say, “Ugh, I won’t come if so-and-so is going.”
  • You dread attending tweetups because so-and-so will be there.
  • You were giddy at the rollout of Mute functionality.
  • You make a new acquaintance with someone who informs you of your bitter rivalry/disagreement/argument with someone you’ve never met or even heard of.

Fatigue differs from Attrition in that you don’t want to walk away from the platform altogether because you’ve seen how powerful it can be. You haven’t lost interest. You’ve lost tolerance.

I’ve met more incredible people and made more lasting friendships in 2010 than in all my prior years on the Earth combined. I’ve grown professionally and cultivated clients and referrals all from Twitter. I wish to continue to do so.

But the honeymoon is over.

Much like that unceremonious but crucial point in a romantic relationship when the shit gets real, Twitter Fatigue sets in when the gloss fades. And in a romantic relationship, I generally love this part. I’d choose First Year over First Date any day because that’s when it gets good. And deep. And dirty. That kind of intimacy will decide whether you want more or no more.

So what have I learned after a year of Twitter?

I’ve learned that you people are fucking mean.

Perhaps it’s the assumption of intimacy that is bothering me. The ease with which people will take offense, lash out, or diminish another’s reputation or point of view. In real life, it’s simple to avoid toxic people. We just avoid them. Remember the ranking system? On Twitter, you simply can’t without being mean.

I’m not perfect. I’m quite often considered rude. But I won’t be mean.

Is there a difference, you ask? I think there is. Rudeness is often unintentional because it is defined by an individual. Meanness is always intentional.

A gal once told me I was rude because when asked my opinion about a restaurant she loved, I replied, “I went twice and didn’t enjoy it.  I should try it again.”

She then told me that I must have no taste.

Which was rude and which was mean? And wouldn’t it have made more sense if she were my sister or my best friend as opposed to someone I was just meeting at a tweetup?

So my cowardly solution has been to close ranks, develop a thicker skin, and manage my expectations of Twitter a bit.

On the flip side of this argument is my obsession with an Abe Lincoln quote that AnnMarie shared over dinner: “I don’t like that man.  I must get to know him better.”

Perhaps I have it all wrong.

18 Responses to “Twitter Fatigue”

  1. dorothyn21 Says:

    This is where I am at the moment. I love the friendships I’ve made, but can’t stand when people don’t get along and try to get me in the middle.

    I love this post Felicia. Wish I could’ve had the balls to post it.

  2. Chris Says:

    Nice post, Felicia. Food for thought.

  3. Great perspective from the girl who makes me laugh more often than not.

  4. Tati Says:

    Great post. And very timely, at least for me.

  5. chanthana Says:

    Dude, what happened to the stick figures? I miss the comics! All kidding aside, I think this is a well-written, smart post. It’s disgusting how people can be so effing mean. It’s one thing to stand for what you believe, but it’s another to trample on others to make that point.

  6. marymary Says:

    i too have met some amazing people in 2010! (all 4 months of it that i was on twitter) i wouldn’t give it back for anything. but it has also shown me (or reconfirmed, really) how lame people can be too. and dramatic. i’ll try to continue enjoying the good peeps, and ignoring the bad seeds.

  7. Mary Kay Says:

    I came on twitter to meet people & make friends & not everyone is going to become a friend. I knew I wouldn’t like everyone & everyone wouldn’t like me. But I can honestly say that the people I follow I like. They add something to my life. Everyone has something to give me: good or bad; a blessing or a learning. For that I am grateful.

  8. Tom Says:

    Felicia, I think one reason why you and I get along so well together is that we tend to feel the same way about things like Twitter. Meeting you last year was one of the best things that happened to me in 2010. If Twitter shut down tomorrow, I’d always love it for bringing you (and a few others) into my life.

  9. Sharkorama Says:

    Bravo my love. So spot on. My own fatigue has sadly developed into apathy. So happy I’m taking you with me into “real life friend” territory 🙂

  10. […] I could have simply ignored it, potentially avoiding more Twitter Fatigue. But I didn’t. Neither did […]

  11. Jennifer Says:

    Ultimately, I think more good comes from Twitter than bad, and stepping back, thinking about what you say, and not fanning the flames of the negativity of others is the best option. And, every now and then, just removing yourself from it completely can be the best medicine. We do this in all other aspects of our lives, but it’s more difficult in such an accessible platform. I try not to tweet when I’m in a bad mood. I think when you become so entrenched in Twitter, it’s easy to just tweet whatever it is that pops into your head at the moment, because you can’t fathom that anyone is going to pay much attention…but they do. I try to leave negativity out, but admittedly, it does creep in sometimes. And, I learned a long time ago (in junior high) that you should never trash talk people because it WILL get back to them…ALWAYS.

    • feliciacago Says:

      So true Jen. Thanks for commenting. It’s exactly what I, and so many, have learned to do lately. Step away, disengage, and risk missing out on the good because of the potential for bad. Just like in life, as you point out.
      Oh God, the trash talk. Have you experienced the joy of being told you were trash talking someone you’ve never even heard of? Delightful.

      I miss your face, by the way.

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