I was at WordCamp earlier this year, the annual weekend event for WordPress users that happened to be in Manchester this year. There had been a coffee break and I wa sitting in the lecture theatre waiting for the next session to begin.
The presenter was chatting to one or two people and tapping on his MacBook at the same time and as it was connected to the projector, you could see what he was doing. He was tweeting.
“Starting in room one in a few minutes” read the message. There might have been the odd # or @, I can’t recall because I’d turned my head to the double doors to my right where I could see the people his tweet was aimed at, gossiping away with papercard coffee cups.
This is the white heat of communication technology, I thought. Just a few years earlier, he would have had to walk five yards and shout, “Oi you lot! I’m ready to start.”
My question is: what is the point of Twitter? There are 175 million users worldwide according to Wikipedia, so how come I’ve never met one?
I assumed there must be a purpose and created a Shooting Parrots account, but have tweeted exactly seven times. What are you supposed to say?
“Mrs P’s just arrived home”, “What shall I do this weekend” and “ideas welcome”. Utterly banal and I didn’t bother again.
But apparently, banality is what Twitter is all about. According to a survey carried out last year, 40% of tweets are pointless babble and a further 38% are conversational of the what I’m eating for lunch variety.
It seems to me that Twitter only really has two purposes — for celebrity self-promotion and as gossip fodder for the media. It comes as no surprise then that the people promoting it as a great idea are celebrities and the media.
And as I said earlier, I don’t know anyone who uses it and I have asked. My kids think it is a complete waste of time and prefer texting, while older friends are quite happy with Facebook.
Are you one of the 175 million? Perhaps you could answer the big question about Twitter. Why?
* a tiny or scarcely detectable amount