Yesterday, I read and shared an article from the Atlantic entitled, “A Eulogy for Twitter”. It talked about the demise of the social network and how something is just not right:
Something is wrong on Twitter. And people are noticing.
Or, at least, the kind of people we hang around with on Twitter are noticing. And it’s maybe not a very important demographic, this very weird and specific kind of user: audience-obsessed, curious, newsy. Twitter’s earnings last quarter, after all, were an improvement on the period before, and it added 14 million new users for a total of 255 million. The thing is: Its users are less active than they once were. Twitter says these changes reflect a more streamlined experience, but we have a different theory: Twitter is entering its twilight.
There already have been rebuttals to the article, and although it talks a lot about the demographics and use of the platform, I would actually challenge that the rise and fall of Twitter (or any other social network) might not be something that we would look at from the viewpoint of group, but more from a personal perspective.
Stay with me here…
Twitter, depending on the day, can be either the greatest thing, the most boring thing, the most overwhelming thing, or something I simply don’t pay attention to. But is it really Twitter or my use of it?
It’s not you Twitter, it’s me.
From my perspective, Twitter shares two main purposes in my own use that are extremely valuable. The first is the “social” aspect. I can go on there and see familiar faces, talk about happenings in the world, sporting events, or just joke around. Some of my best friends that I have met started simply as profile pictures and a 140 character bio. Avatars to friends.
The other aspect is the “learning” component. I would say that since I started using Twitter to connect with educators and see not only what was happening in other schools, but to also get ideas and perspectives about education as a whole. I have learned a lot about education systems in other countries around the world when five years ago, I might not have had that perspective. The ability to talk to people, and not just “look up stuff”, has made this network invaluable to the work that I do in my own practice.
Social + Learning = Engagement (for me)
From what I have seen, people that use it for simply one or the other, and not both (in the education field), don’t stick around too long. Our minds can get full and I do not need to continuously learn every second of the day, and the social aspect is something that many people can get from the connections that already exist in their world. After a full week, the last thing I want to do sometimes is read an article on education related. My mind is full and I want to decompress. When I am watching a game with friends, I don’t need to tweet about it because I would rather enjoy the experience with the people in the room. Yet, when I am by myself, the connection to others through social media makes the game that much more interesting.
So what does this mean?
Well, Twitter has already seen it’s demise in the eyes of individuals. If the user experience is not being met, why stay on the network? And that experience is not necessarily defined by the usability of the social network (although I am not a fan of the new profile), but in the way individuals use it. There are people that I used to always connect with on Twitter that don’t share much on the network anymore. Is it because Twitter has become meaningless to them, or something else in their life has grabbed more attention? When I looked at my own use of Twitter through the archives, I could see a decrease or increase in tweets and I could directly correlate that with events happening in my life.
It’s not you Twitter, it’s me.
The thing that I do love about Twitter, is that the experience is personal and although some are predicting it’s demise, if it works for you, that’s what matters. I know that when I have those times in my life where I want to take a break from that large network, it’s okay, because it’s going to be there when I am ready to come back, along with many of the people I have met, and the people I am looking forward to meet in the future. The learning aspect of Twitter has been tremendous in my development, but the social aspect, the people that I have met and don’t want to lose that continuous connection with, that’s why I continuously come back.