Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Fail Whale: Why Twitter Has Run Its Course

I'm sure some of you use Twitter on a daily/hourly basis and think it's the greatest thing ever. Why you would ever do such a thing is beyond me.

For those of you living in the hills of Pakistan for the last several years, Twitter is a website where you can create messages up to 140 characters long to describe what you're doing at that exact moment in time.

"timmyg123 is eating cake."
"ilovethebowstaff is wondering why Brett Favre is returning to the NFL."

Stuff like that is routinely seen. Why do people care?

I've tried to figure it out myself. Maybe it helps us keep in touch with friends that we wouldn't normally talk to. Maybe we like to follow celebrities' tweets because we're taught at a young age that they are the most superior beings on the planet. Maybe we just like using our techie phones.

Whatever the reason is, it seems people are finally figuring out that Twitter is just something that has run its course.

According to April 2009 data from Nielsen Online, a company that measures internet traffic, 60% of Twitter users quit after the first month. That number is expected to keep dropping.

I think writer Clive Thompson sums Twitter up perfectly: "For many people, the idea of describing your blow-by-blow activities in such detail is absurd. Why would you subject your friends to your daily minutiae? And conversely, how much of their trivia can you absorb? The growth of ambient intimacy can seem like modern narcissism taken to a new, supermetabolic extreme — the ultimate expression of a generation of celebrity-addled youths who believe their every utterance is fascinating and ought to be shared with the world."

Unless Twitter comes up with something to increase user loyalty, it'll die out like the yo-yo or pogs. I don't think that would be such a bad thing.


michael said...

This is provocative and amusing, Kris, but if you read the whole Clive Thompson article you quoted (from the New York Times Magazine) you will find that he offers some compelling reasons why people use Twitter (as well as Facebook and other similar social media sites) aside from narcissism and celeb and gadget worship. If Thompson read this blog post, do you think he would say you have represented his thoughts on the topic fairly? Having read his whole piece, do you still say that the reasons people use Twitter are beyond you?

Kris G. said...

This was easily a topic I could've written a paper about, but it was only a blog post, so I took a side and ran with it.

One of the main things Thompson discovers from his study is that people use social media as a way to discover more about themselves and to look at things in a different, more objective way. Sounds legit to me, and if I were writing a paper on this subject, I certainly would've covered both sides of the issue. As JMC 201 taught us, good journalism covers both sides equally.