Monday, May 11, 2009

Social Media Snobbery (or, Twitter is a tool, but you don't have to be.)

(This article was cross-posted over at LISNews.)

If someone corrects me one more time when I say that I “twittered” something (“um, you mean you tweeted?”) I am going to scream. Really. Right at them. And is the term “social media” passé already? I un-followed the person who tweeted that about thirty seconds after I read that tweet. See, the thing is, I really love Twitter. I follow smart people, who have interesting discussions all day. It’s wonderful. And for the people in my life who say that it’s sad that I have to find those kinds of relationships online, I say: “well why can’t you be more interesting then? Why do you make me go outside our friendship to find satisfying, intellectual conversation? YOU forced me into this!” Ahem. Sorry. Anyway, my point… Ah, yes: Twitter is just a medium. It’s just another method of communication, and in the same way it drives me bonkers when people say it breeds stupidity and hysteria (more so than any other medium? Really? Cable news anyone?...) it also drives me crazy when people act like it’s an exclusive club. So if I don’t get the terminology right, or I don't use the right hashtag, or if I say I just use the Twitter website instead of the Twitter app du jour (Tweetdeck, Tweetie, Seesmic, take your choice...) I’m persona non grata?

Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s got to be rules, right? Seriously, if you only send updates telling me about your new blog posts, or trying to sell your services, or to post pictures of your cat (ok that last one I would probably forgive, and actually secretly enjoy) I will most likely not follow you. As with any community, online or not, it is wise to spend some time getting to know the culture and attempting to fit in to a certain degree. But if no one ever goes out on a limb, there will be no innovation, no growth in the community. We wouldn’t have retweets, or #followfriday, or any other cool uses for the services that weren’t imagined within the first weeks of its debut.

Do you remember when “web 2.0” was all the rage? And do you also remember how anyone who actually worked in any way with web 2.0 was no longer allowed to call it that lest they incur the derision of all their web-savvy colleagues? If you tell me that I can’t use “social media” anymore either, I’m running out of names to call what I do. Seriously, I’m about 5 minutes away from calling myself the “kewl stuff on teh intarwebz” librarian, and nobody wants that. Ok I’m lying, I want that, I totally do. But I can tell you right now that my boss isn’t going to go for it, so can we all chill out with the social media snobbery already? Maybe all the Twitter/Facebook/FriendFeed/whatever-haters will stop picking on us so much if we stop being so darn obnoxious to them… although probably not.

(For anyone not in the super-cool Twitter club already, here’s a cheat sheet to all the Twitter-related stuff mentioned here: Oh, and I’m val_forrestal on Twitter, and I promise not to make you feel stupid, even if you still call it “web 2.0”.)