I’m sorry, I officially fail at Twitter.
I’ve had my Twitter account since March of last year. How many updates–or tweets, or whatever the hell they call it–have I posted? Six. Half of which are about “trying this Twitter thing again”. Everybody seems crazy about it, but I just can’t get into it.
I can sort of understand the appeal. The reason I gave up on the old version of my blog (which was personal, not tech/rant-related) was because it was too cumbersome… I felt like I had to write a novel to justify posting anything. So I looked at microblogs. Tried Tumblr, and I liked the concept, although it was still enough like a blog that I rejected it for being a hosted solution. (The original drive behind Escher was to develop an open-source microblog similar to Tumblr.) I started using my long-dormant Facebook account and found a satisfying outlet via status updates. Then Richie started talking up Twitter, so I tried it.
And I’ve tried it five more times since then, and I still can’t bring myself to like it.
Yes, I prefer Facebook. I like having built-in mechanisms to find my friends. I like Facebook IM… Though I’ve only used it a handful of times, it’s smoother than playing tag through email or tweets or other offline messages, but less hassle than having to boot up one of a half-dozen existing IM clients. And as for those privacy concerns, they’re not my concerns… My dirty little secrets are few and far between, I have nothing to hide, and I’d like to think I have more sense than to upload the sort of information that could result in identity theft.
But this rant really isn’t about the things I like in Facebook. It’s really about the things I hate in Twitter:
- It’s ugly. You would think it would be too simple to be ugly–especially since it uses a down-to-earth font like Arial–but they have found a way to cram every ounce of ugly possible in 140 characters. I hate “twitter litter”… The stupid @ symbols prefixing half of all twitterfeeds, the tiny urls, even the stupid o_O googly-eyed default icon… It’s an icon, it’s a PNG, capable of a millions of beautiful colors, or at least gradients galore! Why make it look like more text? Twitterfeeds, IMO, are uglier than MySpace profiles, and that’s saying a lot. But at least with MySpace, there’s a chance to use your l33t stylesheet skills (or copy-paste ability) to make your profile look not-so-hideous. I guess the difference is that Twitter is trendy or kinda “scene” despite its rough-hewn appearance–or perhaps because if it–like shopping at vintage stores or something.
- It’s full of shit. Literally. I just asked Trish what she thinks about Twitter, and this was what she told me: “I’m taking a shit now.” Let me clarify: I didn’t walk in on her in the bathroom or anything. That’s how Twitter reads to her. People seem excited to post details both intimate and mundane… Every “sneeze, fart, and hiccup.” Her words, not mine! But it’s true. At least make it intimate–and juicy! I cringe at my old LiveJournal entries because they seem so self-absorbed, but at least there’s substance to them.
- It’s too short. I suppose 140 characters sounds like a lot, but unless you’re rocking Dick & Jane levels of literary prowess, it’s about enough for two sentences, and very little flavor. (In fact, Trish pointed out, that last sentence alone was too long–170 characters.) If you’re reading this (or if you’ve given up by now, which I wouldn’t blame you for) you know that I like to rant. So, if there’s something going on worth writing about, I’m probably going to need more than 140 characters to fill it. I could be wrong, but it doesn’t seem like Facebook or MySpace have such a conservative limit. And anyway, how hard would it be to truncate a status message with ellipses? Plus, this 140-character business is the reason behind the recent popularity of tinyurls, which I loathe.
- It’s spammy. I follow a whopping three people: two friends, and Leo Laporte. I listen to Leo’s podcast, This Week in Tech, and like what he has to say. But his tweets drown out my friends’ posts. Granted, this can be an issue on Facebook too… But on Facebook, I can “turn down the volume” on certain types of posts or on particularly spammy friends.
- It doesn’t seem terribly secure. Again, I’m curious why people tolerate Twitter where they didn’t tolerate MySpace. Sure, MySpace had plenty of exploits and phishing expeditions, but I never remember reading about an administrative account getting compromised–but Twitter admin accounts have been hacked. I’m sure a lot of the other “celebrity hacks” and etc. have been a matter of social engineering, not of technology, but I still blame Twitter. Twitter more or less relies upon their API allowing third-party clients to provide updates, which gets people too used to typing their passwords into all different apps. Twitter ought to develop some of their own clients and require third-party clients to go through a user-approval process, on a case-by-case basis, similar to how Facebook apps function.
This week, Facebook is rolling changes to their home page and fan pages, changes that seem targeted at making Facebook a “Twitter killer”. Bring it on, I say… Not because I want Facebook to become more like Twitter. (I needn’t worry about that, Facebook is far too elegant to become like Twitter.) No, I’d like to see everyone jump ship on Twitter so I can stop hearing about it.
And now, I think I’ll stop talking about it!