I’ve been back on Twitter for about 3 weeks and have put in around 1000 tweets, which for someone who hasn’t the time to spend staring at it all day, I think is pretty good. The problem is… I don’t know that I’m really getting a lot out of it. I suspect that I’m probably expecting too much from what it is, which really isn’t that much.
I leapt into Twitter, followed a lot of my favorite bloggers and started watching the tweets roll in. I was careful only to follow the people I really wanted to hear anything from, but over time, it became obvious that the majority of atheist tweeters are just posting the same pithy comments over and over and over again. Nobody wants to have a conversation, virtually nobody responds to comments, I have a feeling that most of them have an automated tweet machine set up and they never look at it. Once a minute, they post a quote from an atheist or a provocative statement, it gets retweeted everywhere and then it starts all over again. In fact, I took a look at one of the most prolific and realized they have made approximately 200 posts per day over their entire history on Twitter. That breaks down to about 8 tweets per minute or one tweet every 7.5 seconds, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Come on.
The fact is, in all the time I’ve been on Twitter, I’ve found a couple of dozen people I consider worth following. My followers are at least double that and more people join every day, but when I go looking at most “normal” people, that being those who are not celebrities of some caliber, it’s almost always the other way around. They’re following 1200 people and getting followed by maybe a hundred or two. Maybe I need to get some longevity or seriously loosen up, but I can’t imagine 1200 people I’d give a damn about hearing from. If I see a tweet that might be somewhat interesting, I’ll pull up that person’s log of tweets to see if they are generally interesting and, most of the time, they’re not.
So I figured, maybe my couple of dozen tweet-ees just aren’t producing enough worthwhile content so I started watching a couple of hashtags. #atheism seemed pretty sensible and, just so I’d always have something to bitch about, #AtheismPlus got thrown into the mix. I’ve poked into a few more here and there, but for the most part, it’s the same formula as the regular people I follow: pithy comment, retweet, retweet, retweet, famous quote, link to YouTube video, retweet, retweet, retweet.
Maybe it’s just my outlook. I treat Twitter pretty much like I treat my blog. I post what I want. I talk to who I want. I’m not trying to be flashy, waving my arms around like crazy in hopes everyone and his brother follows me. I don’t care. It just seems so absurd that most people are fanatically obsessive about getting more followers. I can’t tell you how much Twitter-spam I’ve gotten, people offering to get me thousands of new followers. So what? What good is someone following you if they’re not interested in what you say or have any interest in interacting with you? I’ve dumped tons of people who were clearly just following me in hopes of me reciprocating so they could spam me. No thanks.
Even debating theists really isn’t much fun there. The 140-character limit is really a killer when trying to get across complex thoughts. Yes, I can use one of the post-lengthening services but that seems like a lot of trouble to go through for people who haven’t got the slightest clue about reality. Tonight I had a 2-hour debate with someone who used pretty much every cliche theist response in the book. “Someone must have hurt you so you hate God!” “You have to believe there is no God, prove it!” “Faith is evidence, it’s all I need!” It’s just absurd to go round and round with people like this who are just going to go off and talk to themselves, um, I mean pray for you.
So my question is this. Am I doing something wrong? Is there something I ought to be doing so I can have a richer experience, or is this all there is? Is there some hashtag where all the cool kids hang out? Or is this essentially still the way it was when I left Twitter a couple of years ago, a general waste of my time and energy?