10 Things I Hate About Twitter, in 140 Characters (or Less)

Are you kidding me? I couldn’t possibly tell you even half of the things that I hate about Twitter in less than 140 keystrokes. In fact, you can’t even get through the first sentence of the U.S, Constitution in 140 characters. Not even half of it. The apparent success of the site has me confused and the more that it grows, the more that I can’t avoid it. In February, Twitter execs announced that there are, on average, 460,000 new accounts per day. This means that if you want to connect with someone, or something – Twitter is the place. The social network shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon, but I have something to say about why they should. I’ve narrowed my list of Twitter annoyances down to a mere 10, and here they are:

1) I #hate @thingsthat #aretyped http://bit.ly LiKe #this.

No one will tell you this going in, but in order to use Twitter, you practically need to adopt the ability to read and comprehend a new language. Twitter allows users to contribute to groups or networks’ conversations by using ‘hashtags’, or the ‘#’ symbol. Tweeting to another user directly entails putting the ‘@’ symbol before their username. What we’re left with is trying to read Tweets that look like someone was typing on their keyboard in a dimly lit space. I, for one, cannot deal with the assault to my eyes swiftly done in trying to decipher such a short message.

2) Look here! Click Here! Read this! Just pay attention to me!

Twitter is an advertising mecca, like a virtual Times Square or downtown Tokyo. On one side of the coin this is great. Startups, small businesses, and even large corporations can easily be in touch with their customers and can follow popular trends with ease. However, for users, there is little power for you to escape companies that are vying for your attention. Mention a brand once, and they’re quick to follow you, even if you aren’t a customer. Once a user is thoroughly annoyed by the attention, they’re quick to leave, which puts businesses in a tight spot. Twitter gambles businesses and consumers with a ‘lose-lose’ situation.

3) I lso hte 2 c ppl typn. dis way.

The implication of a 140 character limit on one’s message has users resorting to high school-esque shorthand, i.e: ‘text talk’. It’s difficult to keep up with the newest abbreviations, and even more difficult to hold onto any shred of class or professionalism when you need to resort to using incomplete words to get your message across.

4) To be honest, it’s quite ugly.

One of Twitter’s few charms is that it’s easy to use, but isn’t it important for the site to also look nice? I can’t stand the lack of depth in the site, or the lack of impact that I can have on my own page. Twitter allows users to upload their own personal background, but with minimal open space, it’s difficult to make sense of anything other than a blank color, or one of their preloaded templates. Yawn.

5)  You’re following, being followed, updating, but who in the world is reading?

With today’s technology, we are used to having the information that we want right at our fingertips. Think about it. Our smartphones deliver our news and updates to the home screen via push notifications, and our popular web services like Netflix, Amazon, and countless others does our digging and sends information that we might like in our direction by way of recommendations or suggestions. It’s perplexing then, how Twitter makes it difficult to separate the information coming towards us into categories and control how we see it.

6) Tweet away, but you’re still a stranger.

This past Spring, Facebook confronted their users with another personal question to respond to: what’s your blood type? The question, which was intended to connect blood banks with people who carried blood that was in high demand, was deeply criticized after users called the question an intrusion on their personal health information.

I don’t expect Twitter to begin scanning fingerprints, or verifying a home address before allowing users to Tweet, but how come you only get a bio section?

7) Yet another thing to update. Constantly.

The current TPS (yes, another Twitter abbreviation), or ‘Tweets Per Second’ record is 6,939. The record was set a mere 4 seconds after the clock struck midnight in Japan on New Years Day this year. As of October, the average number of tweets-per-day is over 250 million. If you follow a considerable amount of people, you’ll notice that once you tweet something, it immediately drowns in the sea of tweets being made by your peers. It takes a lot of effort to get through to readers on Twitter, too much effort for what it’s worth.

8) Why in the world do I get notified every single time someone tweets?

This is a culmination of #2 and #5 (go ahead, review them, I’ll still be here when you get back).

Welcome back. My main question is, if there’s a lot of tweeting being done, and the information that I actually want isn’t being brought to me, why would I want to be notified about it every single second? Talk about information overload.

9) Excuse me, do I know you?

One of the main functions of any good social network is to connect people who have things in common, or who share similar interests/ experiences. I’ve yet to understand how Twitter facilitates such connections. The only ‘recommendations’ that I come across are people who the masses seem to be following. On the other side of the coin, it’s irritating being followed by someone that you don’t know and not being able to have any say over whether you actually want to be followed by them or not. Sure, I can ‘block’ them, but that seems a bit harsh (not to mention time consuming).

10) Reliability, or lack thereof.

Users like to see their favorite social networks become an outlet for updates on the things that interest them most. Twitter doesn’t do a very good job at this. I usually rely on the ‘trending’ topics when there’s a breaking news story and I want to see what people have to say about it. However, the trending topics aren’t always what you’d consider ‘trendy’. I have no reason to connect to Twitter to hear the latest news and thoughts when a place like Facebook, or the comment section of any news source will work far better.

Over to You:

Do you also hate Twitter? Do you love it? What do you use it for, and what keeps you coming back? Is there something that I’m just not getting? Leave your  thoughts in the comment section below!

14 Responses to “10 Things I Hate About Twitter, in 140 Characters (or Less)”

  1. I don’t use Twitter (yet) but one aspect of it has always intrigued me: why on earth do boring people with nothing to say feel compelled to sign up and make 26 updates a day about their mundane existence?

    Thank you for a highly amusing read!

  2. Spot on, Katelyn. I couldn’t agree more. In fact, I was thinking of using some jujitsu on Twitter: starting a campaign where people try to some up the great works of literature, title by title, in 140 characters or less. And the AFI Top 100 films, too.

    The point? That it can’t be done. The point of great narrative, or great journalism – or even great advertising – is the depth of thought. A small handful of people have the talent to make something interesting, funny, or informative in short bursts. But since Twitter is also “democratizing”, we have to sort through piles and piles of crap to find them.

    And it doesn’t begin or end with Twitter, either. Most of the tools that are taking our culture by storm emphasize brevity at the expense of EVERYTHING else. It’s vapid. Who CARES who the Mayor of O’Shaughnessy’s Irish Pub is?

    We need a return to trusted curation, and to *artful* brevity. And I think we’ll get there, too. Because the “Twitterverse” is not even an equilibrium, let alone a stable equilibrium.

    For what it’s worth (shameless plug here), my company, Moveable Feast Mobile Media, is trying to build a platform that will empower REAL STORYTELLERS to ply their craft using new technology. But we don’t want to put the emphasis on brevity and technology; we want to put the emphasis on depth and art (art in the broad sense of the word). And technology is re-relegated to a tool, where it belongs.

  3. oops!! “sum up”, not “some up”. what the H was I thinking???

    • Thanks so much for your comment Steve. I agree, so much more thought needs to be put into our online applications- more art is a definite need. How is Moveable Feast Mobile Media doing by the way? Would you care to hop over to your Entrepreneur Profile and bring our readers up to speed?

      Happy innovating!

  4. Agreed on the @s and the #s. When I read, my eyes skip right over them, and when I tweet, I only put them at the end. Agreed, too, on the abbreviations. And you left out that it’s not threaded, so if two people are going back and forth, it’s impossible to follow. Still, those are minor annoyances compared to the immediacy of the information (like when tweets traveled faster than the Oct. 24 earthquake) and its ability to bring so much of interest to my attention. I heard the perfect description recently–it’s your own personal newswire.

    • John, you’re absolutely right! I just had a back-and-forth with a friend and it was IMPOSSIBLE to follow the conversation. How annoying!

      I hope that eventually, it can become a more effective tool. It does indeed have its good points. 🙂

      Thanks for your input.

  5. I can’t stand it either!
    It’s not easy to use to me and I’m a bit of a geek. I’m assuming it’s due to the fact that I just don’t get the hype. Who… In the hell… Wants to follow me!!? Then I hate the fact that phones like the iPhone has integrated it into their apps. For what! I don’t use it. Now it serves as a great tool for the famous and advertisers. I will follow a star I like or a product… There aren’t many so hopefully no update overload. Other than that, I totally agree…. Twitter sucks on a social level. But it’s every advertisers dream.

    • DLjSM, indeed, how did I forget to mention the iPhone integration? iPhone pressures users to have a Twitter. It’s nearly impossible to use the phone without constantly seeing something to the effect of “would you like to Tweet about this”? It’s incredibly annoying.

  6. I didn’t start using twitter until I attended Startup Weekend Hartford – where one of the marketing folks on our team was using it A LOT. The power was that she was able to reach out to people that otherwise might be totally inaccessible, through twitter.

    I’ve found that twitter can be a good human filtering system for google. instead of looking up something on google – try searching for a twitter hashtag related to the subject and you’ll find the links that a group of other people have already found useful.

    the annoyances you mention are quite real, but there is some value to be extracted from twitter- as long as one doesn’t obsess over keeping track of every single tweet.

    • Rajesh,
      I agree with you when it comes to human filtering. It is usually easier to find someone on Twitter vs. Google. For you, how does human filtering work with Twitter vs. Linkedin?

  7. I don’t like the flood of tweets. Even with lists, it’s impossible to follow everything. Aside from that, I like Twitter.
    Re: #3: I agree wholeheartedly.

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    […] you’ve already read my post “10 Things I Hate About Twitter (In 140 Characters or Less),” you’d understand why I think Apple went a little overboard with their Twitter integration as […]

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