Pender's Blog

Blog archive

5 Reasons Why I Hate Twitter

I'm going first-person in this entry because this is a personal rant that I don't want ascribed to any of my RCPU colleagues. So, there will be none of the obnoxious royal "we" I so love to use in this space. Just so you know.

Twitter, the infernal social networking site, apparently turns 5 years old this week, an age that seems to match the emotional maturity of many of its frequent users. Now, recently, Twitter and Facebook, its far more tolerable cousin, have gotten a lot of credit for enabling protesters in places like Libya to, well, protest. If folks are using Twitter to advance the will of the people in a climate of repression, then good for them and good for Twitter. More power to them. I still wish they would find some other way to do it, though.

Personally, I hate Twitter. Anybody who has ever read anything about Twitter in this newsletter knows that. Of course, I have three Twitter accounts, one for this newsletter (@leepender) and two for personal blogs I write on soccer (which I will not promote here). Those are all unwanted necessities -- no matter how much I dislike Twitter, other folks seem to like it, so I kind of have to use it in order to get people to read my stuff. Or so everybody tells me.

But let's get back to me hating Twitter. In "honor" of Twitter's 5th birthday, I offer five reasons why I hate Twitter:

  1. The whole concept of limiting Tweets to 140 characters is obnoxious. I usually don't care about what my "friends" on Facebook are doing, but I really don't care what somebody is doing if that activity can be expressed in 140 characters or fewer. While people can actually get into some relatively substantive discussions on Facebook or on blogs or message boards, Twitter is designed only to accommodate off-the-cuff comments, which usually are either poorly considered or so heavily abbreviated that they're impossible to comprehend (or both). We've already lost thoughtful debate in the Western world to the insidious and intentionally controversial sound bite; we don't need a popular Web site that not only encourages sound-bite "discussions" but actually excludes all other form of communication.

    Now, I don't follow that many people on Twitter, and some who Tweet often (analyst Ray Wang comes to mind) are actually worth following, even if I still hate the format. But most of what's on Twitter, even in my limited feed, is drivel -- and, yes, that generally includes the stuff I post, too. Oh, and if you haven't noticed, I'm long-winded, so that's another thing that drives me nuts about the character limit.

  2. There are too many weird symbols and abbreviations in Tweets. I'm not even talking about abbreviated words here, but I'll get to that in a minute. Something like "RT @leepender hates #Twitter #rant #moron" just looks like a jumble to me, but that's the way most Tweets look. Hash tags are bad enough, but now there are incomprehensible abbreviated hash tags (like #FF, which apparently means "follow Friday" -- oh, of course). The long-forgotten "at" sign made a stunning comeback about 20 years or so ago thanks to e-mail, but now it preens around all over Twitter as if it has been one of our favorite punctuation marks for generations.

    And hash, don't even get me started on you. You were just a button on a telephone before Twitter came along. Even the Associated Press requires reporters to use "No." instead of the hash sign. (As in, "TCU was ranked No. 2 in the country in football but should have been No. 1." Yup, still talking about it.) Oh, and some of the "trending" hash tags are real gems. As I'm writing this, "#100factsaboutme" and "#icantdateagirl" are "trends" on Twitter. Oh, do tell me more!

  3. Twitter and texting are killing the English language. English is a beautiful and complex language -- maybe someday even I'll learn to use it beautifully -- but our quick-hit communication culture is turning the language of Shakespeare (as the French call it) into a bunch of random symbols. I'm not concerned about kids not being able to spell or whatever; we have spell check on just about every device now. But when there's more value in knowing how to shorten words to the greatest extent possible than in knowing how to skillfully string them together, that's a bad sign for a language. And, yes, I did watch Idiocracy recently.

  4. This is more of a complaint about social media in general, but it certainly applies to Twitter: I don't want to have to get messages from 800 different places. There used to be this wonderful thing called e-mail where people could communicate in writing, and it was possible to receive and send messages in one place and through one interface. I used to hear people complain about colleagues who only used e-mail and wouldn't pick up the phone. If only we could limit ourselves to e-mail and the phone now.

    These days, people can contact me on Facebook (both on my "wall" and via Facebook's messaging client) or on Twitter (through both Tweets and private messages), among many other options. I hate that. Just e-mail me. Seriously. I hate breathless e-mails or even voice mails about whether I got someone's message on Twitter or, even worse, saw someone's Tweet. Seeing someone's Tweet sounds like something that would have been really exciting in junior high, but it's not such a thrill now. Yeah, I know, there are aggregators for all this, and I can have Twitter e-mail me when somebody sends me a Tweet or a private message. But it's just another source of communication to have to worry about. All of a sudden, preferring e-mail over anything else makes me the Luddite. It used to make me cool.

  5. Maybe this isn't such a big problem anymore, but for a while there was some question as to who was actually who on Twitter. Some enterprising or possibly trouble-making person would go register on Twitter under a celebrity's name and start posting as that celebrity. Then, the real celebrity would come along and start posting under the name "TheREAL(celebrity)." Of course, I don't follow any of those people, so it doesn't really matter that much to me. But the notion that the person I believe to be Tweeting might actually be somebody else altogether really bothers me.

Well , I've managed to go on for more than 1,000 words about this now, so for those who have actually made it this far (or just skipped past the list), I want to hear from you. What do you like about Twitter? What do you hate about it? What do you like or hate about RCPU? E-mail me at [email protected] or comment on this blog entry on the Web site...but please, if you re-Tweet this, don't ask me later on whether or not I saw it on Twitter.

Posted by Lee Pender on March 21, 2011