The Flight from Twitter And Why Everyone Is Leaving
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This is a guest contribution from John Terra.
One of the biggest benefits of social media platforms, such as Twitter, is that you are connected to a huge number of people who have a wide range of opinions and viewpoints. Conversely, one of the biggest drawbacks of social media platforms such as Twitter is that you are connected to a huge number of nasty people who have a wide range of ignorant opinions and insulting viewpoints.
Celebrities such as Alec Baldwin, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Love Hewitt, and former Boston Bruin and now Dallas Stars forward Tyler Seguin have left the popular social network either permanently or (supposedly) temporarily.
The above-mentioned famous people are but a few of the people who’ve left Twitter. What’s going on? Is this some kind of exodus? Why are these people leaving, and should all of those “regular folk” out there consider doing the same?
Drunk-Dialing With 140 Characters
Have you ever had a bit too much to drink, then decided to call someone up and rant at them, only to wake up the next day regretting what you had done? Now, picture doing the same on Twitter, where millions of people, not just one poor unfortunate soul, are the beneficiaries of your ill-advised, alcohol-flavored words.
Celebrities have had to undertake damage control when such tweets (or simply just knee-jerk reaction tweets that slipped past their internal edit functions) go public. After a while, some celebrities feel that the risk of mass-alienation makes a Twitter account more trouble than it’s worth.
If character is what you are when no one’s looking, then that doesn’t say very much for the character of a significant portion of the online community. It’s amazing what people will say when they have a forum where they can vent in an anonymous capacity. Some celebrities (such as Hewitt, for example) have been on the receiving end of sheer vitriol, insults, and sometimes, even actual threats. It’s almost as if being given a direct line to a popular figure and a degree of anonymity brings out people’s worst natures.
Some celebrities simply have had enough with trying to keep up tweeting regularly. After all, many celebrities have handlers and PR people who take care of publicity for them. Why take extra time to personally tweet and consequently, run the risk of getting insulted in return?
Moving from celebrity reasons for leaving Twitter to the world of everyday people, a portion of regular folks join Twitter in order to closely follow an event, such as an election or a sports playoff. Once the event is over, there’s less incentive to stay with it.
Then there’s the people who join Twitter because it’s the latest big thing. They don’t end up actually tweeting anything; they function more as “lurkers.” They don’t have any real practical reason for joining; it just seemed like a good idea at the time, and everyone else seemed to be doing. Either, they’ll end up quitting, or simply keeping with it in a passive capacity, always reading but never tweeting.
OK, So What?
It’s difficult to say if Twitter is actually losing a significant amount of people, as the company is not very forthcoming with solid numbers. But like any other tool, Twitter can serve in a very useful capacity. People have turned to Twitter during power outages, accidents, and natural disasters in order to get the word out or even contact the proper authorities for help. Tweets are also a good way of sharing news while events are unfolding. People who use Twitter should give some thought as to why they’re joining and what they want to get out of it.
One thing is for sure, as long as Twitter has some measure of popularity, there will always been celebrities who get into trouble or share way too much information, and consequently be a source of cheap entertainment for countless people.
John Terra has been writing freelance since 1985, covering social media, online reputation management and marketing. John is not, nor will ever be, on Twitter; he’s too damn verbose.
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