I’ve written many times of my hatred for time-wasting technology, and noted the vapidity of people chasing friends, followers, and other public displays of how important they’ve become. Twitter is wildly popular, but is anybody getting anything worthwhile out of it? How much of what comes to your Twitter page do you actually read? Of what you read, how much is actually useful in your business?
Running some numbers illustrates the near certainty of being unable to keep up with the flow of information across your Twitter page. Say a typical user sends 10 tweets per day, and you follow 100 people. That’s 1,000 tweets per day. Distributed evenly across all 24 hours, that’s 42 per hour or one every one minute, 26 seconds. Even that has “productivity drain” written all over it, but it’s a modest example. There are people following thousands of people, and people with tens of thousands of followers, and users sending dozens of tweets per day. Increase the people you follow to just 500 with each sending 10 tweets per day, and you have new information flowing in at a rate of one tweet every 17 seconds.
Take it a step further and notice that most tweets contain a link to more information at a web page, because almost nothing meaningful can be conveyed within the 140-character limit of a tweet. With a typical page-load time of 5 seconds and a new tweet coming every 17 seconds, you have just 12 seconds to process whatever is on the landing page before you have to get back to your Twitter page for the next meaningless micro task.
And meaningless is the operating word. Even Guy Kawasaki, the former Apple marketing whiz turned venture capitalist, has been reduced on Twitter to sending his 223,000 followers links to such vital topics as:
Come on. Who has time for such triviality? Sadly, a lot of people, apparently, which could go a long way toward explaining why the economy won’t get on its feet.
The giant cloud of you-tweet-me-I’ll-tweet-you meaningless volleys back and forth is about to get even more crowded with pointless number inflation. You know how everybody’s trying to prove how popular and influential they are with thousands of followers and friends in social media? Well, that’s going to disappear as a status symbol now that such numbers can simply be purchased. That’s right. For a mere $3,479 you can get 100,000 Twitter followers. Don’t wait. Order now! I don’t mean that and I don’t get any commission if you are dumb enough to actually do it.
There’s a certain dark humor in all of this, and it follows these lines: human advancement through the stages of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs from food to health to friendship to self-esteem apparently culminates not in self-actualization, but in more followers than anybody else on the planet to whom you can send pointless messages…that are never read. Way to go!
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