My partner recently (and reluctantly) joined Twitter in order to promote his business. This has led to more than a few heated debates about the culture and etiquette of this social media channel. He has found himself particularly irritated by what he regards as frippery and nonsense flying around his timeline. Why on earth would anyone be interested in what I’ve had for tea? Who cares what my views are about [insert subject] that doesn’t relate to my business in the slightest?
He is finding it hard to fathom. And whilst on the surface I have been valiantly fighting Twitter’s corner, it has secretly caused me to reflect on my own behaviours and others in my timeline. Is it a problem to be inconsequential?
I’m a real fan of the ‘party’ analogy for Twitter – if you’re at a party you tend to get out what you put in – make the effort and others will reciprocate. Talk about yourself and your work/business/professional interests the whole time, and other party-goers are likely to make a hasty retreat.
Conversation is as much (if not more) about developing relationships as it is about sharing information and knowledge. And so it is in my experience on Twitter. I search out content relevant to my professional interests, but I also enjoy the odd bit of frippery in my timeline. Being inconsequential – snippets reflecting the shared experience of what it is to be human in 140 characters – is a means of creating connection. Put that way it doesn’t sound so inconsequential to me after all.
I am fascinated by our different tolerances for frippery – some people I follow steer a direct path with professional tweets on a definite subject. Others pretty much only share personal observations and quips. Most are somewhere in-between.
I like this mix. I hope frippery doesn’t put newcomers like my partner off Twitter. It would be a pretty dull party if every conversation was a broadcast sound bite. But if that’s the sort of party you like then you always have the option of only inviting people with a similar take along to it. They may come or they may choose to go elsewhere. That’s the joy of Twitter.
And yes… this post is really just a pathetic excuse to post a picture of my new puppy…