why I don’t twitter. and, why do you twitter?

I don't twitter. Millions have asked me for my twitter handle. Millions. Yet, I stick with the simple philosophical reason that no one cares and that's why I don't twitter.

Why I don't twitter

  1. No one cares enough to read through dozens and dozens of updates. People don't care enough about my life to want to know what I'm doing (all the time).
  2. I don't care enough to want to let the world know what I'm doing (all the time). Look at my last few facebook status updates, for example. Just rubbish.
    facebook status updates
  3. I don't have relevant breaking news that I want to share with the internet. Or my internet friends. Or my supposed twitter friends. I would share breaking news via SMS. If it's internet worthy, I'll blog it.
  4. I find blogging to be good enough.
  5. In the last year or so, Twitter has gone down several times. Apparently there's even a site dedicated to figuring twitter's up/down status : http://istwitterdown.com/.
    twitter down search results

Why I think people Twitter

I set out to find out if there are others out there who want to know why people twitter. Here are Goog's search results. Here are Live's search results. Between those sets of search results, I found these two somewhat relevant articles :

  1. Why I Hate Twitter : This is from a user who has been using Twitter and is annoyed by some of its "features". So not entirely relevant, but still captures a user's frustration.
  2. What Do You Use Twitter For? : Whoa, ok, I feel like ripping this article apart. I know this was written almost a year go, but, to quote the author, Amit Agarwal :
    1. "Reducing Information Overload" : I don't think the problem is so much information overload but using another channel, like Twitter, to receive information that you could otherwise just receive in the form of an RSS feed. If you don't know how to parse your RSS feeds efficiently to look for what is relevant to you then we need to chat. You don't need to use twitter if all you want is to be notified about something through GTalk or in an SMS.
      And I don't know if Twitter really "reduces information overload". I've been looking at some of my friends' twitter feeds, and they are just inundated with irrelevant stuff and chatty crap.
    2. "Enhance Your Blog Posts : Say you type a twit “how do you download Youtube videos” and almost instantly, your fans will message you the various methods / hacks they use for downloading videos. That kind of instant research is not possible with other methods."
      I'm not even going to comment on this.
    3. "Contact Busy People" : Why not use the phone? SMS? What exactly is so old-school about picking up the phone and calling someone? Unless you don't know the person's phone number, in which case you possibly can't have something that important to message "your friend" about.

Some time back, my friend Mario over at LinkedIn had posted this question : "What business relevance do you find in Twitter?" I couldn't find a single answer in that thread that was relevant, except for the one by Laura Thomas from Dell.

A writer who I have huge respect for is Dare Obasanjo. I was a little taken aback when I read that Dare had signed up for Twitter. To quote Dare :

"I’m now at the point where I really, really, really want to blog but have too much going on at work and at home to take the time out to do it. To deal with this I’ve created a Twitter account.
In the meantime, you can get my thoughts on various topics in 140 characters or less from Twitter."

Why not just blog it, Dare? All you've done at this point is create another RSS feed. You don't need to sign up for a Twitter account to write short-ish blog posts. Look at Kevin Rose's (link) blog, for example.

Here's why I think people twitter :

  1. So having done my share of research on teh internets, the only thing I can conclude is that Twitter is more-or-less useless. I'd love to be wrong. The one big benefit I can see however is that Twitter can serve as a one-stop-shop for different feeds that have seriously condensed content. So I can find and befriend Direct2Dell or DellOutlet, for example, from within Twitter, as opposed to somehow stumbling upon it. But this wouldn't have been relevant if Twitter weren't so popular. However that feature does sound useful.
  2. Twitter is another channel for attention seekers. At some point of time, Scoble set out to evangelize the heck out of twitter. Do you remember this :
    And the awesome evangelist that Scoble is, he succeeded in making Twitter popular. So people twitter-friended Scoble. Then they started twittering so that Scoble's twitter feed would show their tweets. Some replied to those tweets. And on it went. This could be complete hypothesis on my part, but from my limited experience of using Pownce, I've noticed that people have been using it as a channel to simply broadcast what they have been working on. That's it. And sometimes people respond.
  3. I couldn't really find any articles on the internet that spoke about why people twitter. It seems to be one of those fads and people twitter because others twitter.

So, why do YOU twitter?

Now playing in my head : "Tous Les Garçons Et Les Filles", by Françoise Hardy


PS: Stay tuned for, "why do my friends facebook message me when they know my email address and it is on my facebook profile?"

Comments (11)
  1. The main reason I use Twitter is because depeinding on your group of friends it is a very low friction, low expectation way to stay in touch with people.

    There is zero expectation when I post that anyone cares.  If no one responds no harm done, but every so often I get a glimpse at how someone’s day is going, etc, etc.

    And when I run into them I feel we have a few stories to share because of our Twitter group of friends.

  2. ccatto says:

    Hey Now Anand,

    INteresting point of view. I use tweeter for social networking just like all the similar sites. I do agree there are better ones than others.

    Thx 4 the info,


  3. I use it as another form of instant messaging.  I have actually made several friends through twitter than I would not have made otherwise.

    I actually use to think twitter was the most useless thing on this earth, but a friend of mine who I could never get hold of said he was on twitter and it was the best avenue to talk to him through, so I gave it a shot.  Now it is part of what I do daily.

    I use everyday to communicate IRC, IM, Phone, Twitter, and Email. Occasionally i’ll send a text message.  To me it is another communication gateway.

  4. GlenGordon says:

    Read this:  http://www.wired.com/techbiz/media/magazine/15-07/st_thompson it sold me on why twitter. It’s all in what you write in it. Not all of them have to be pithy, which is what you seem to suffer from 😉

    "hopes you understand that sometimes the clothes do not make the man" is a bumper sticker, not a tweet.

  5. ai says:


    Do you find that you obsessively twitter though? Because if you do, even though its low friction, you’re kinda forcing yourself to update your "status" even though other people, including yourself, may not care. I could be wrong, but I’ve seen some people do that.

    On the other hand, wouldn’t it be more fun to catch up on stuff without having found out about it on twitter?

    I’m not against anyone using twitter, I’m just not able to find good enough reasons from anyone. Good enough IMO.


  6. ai says:


    > To me it is another communication gateway.

    So how is Twitter different from IM in your example? Sure, the other person may not be online, but you can always send offline messages, right?

    And why have this other communication gateway? I don’t get it.


  7. ai says:


    Yikes, ok. I’m not sure the article sold me on it, but here’s my take :

    > Twitter and other constant-contact media

    > create social proprioception.

    Gawd, no thank you. I don’t want to be socially proprioceptalized. Some people may want to do it, but I don’t think many people care. This author uses an isolated example because he cares about his friend. But to me it sounds like some form of virtual stalking, knowing everything about your friend, always.

    > Scrolling through random Twitter messages

    > can’t explain the appeal. You have to do it

    >  and, more important, do it with friends.

    Ok, I buy that. That’s totally fair. The best argument I’ve heard so far.

    > "hopes you understand that sometimes the

    > clothes do not make the man" is a bumper

    > sticker, not a tweet.

    Yeah it’s definitely *not* a tweet. And I’m definitely buying that bumper sticker.

    ai 😉

  8. GlenGordon says:

    Anand, think of it this way. If we worked together in an office, we’d have passing remarks during the day about our hobbies, family, extra-curriculars, etc. Or, perhaps I’d notice a new picture on your desk of someplace you went on vacation, and stop in to ask you about it.

    In a distributed team like ours, small connections like these are even more important. In the example above, the former might be a few tweets and the latter might be a blog post.


  9. GlenGordon says:

    Oh, and another thing. If the friend puts tweets out there explicitly, how can that be stalking?

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