Five reasons Twitter users want to quit

Social networking platform Twitter has many uses – staying in touch with friends, catching breaking news live from the scene, networking with potential business contacts, finding feedback, help and general rubbernecking.

But lately many high-profile users are abandoning the interface, and the reasons are just as varied.

When I put a call out on Twitter about twittexhausion, I thought I had a fair idea how this blog would turn out. Well, I was wrong.

I was inundated with messages. It seems there’s a fair amount of long-term, high-level users who are about to put Twitter onto semi-permanent hiatus. Why?

Shortland Street called, it wants its storyline back

“Did you hear @someone just lost their job?” “OMG did you SEE her tweet?” “I heard that @suchandsuch has hooked up with @thatguy!” “My life sucksssssssssssssssssssssss.”

It’s exhausting, and yet we get sucked into dramas and whines that aren’t even ours.

“So many gloaters, whiners and gossipers,” one user said. “When did it get like this?”

“I’ve almost stopped tweeting as was getting so worked up reading other people’s comments. My stream full of whining! Time off = good for me,” another user tweeted.

“The ridiculous immaturity of some users at times. The gossip. The scandal. The negativity. The drama,” one user said.

“I was worrying and getting angry about things that just weren’t important or getting sucked into dramas without even contributing to them, or knowing the people involved – dedicating head space to the dramas of strangers is just stupid,” another person messaged.

This leads nicely into point two:

Twitter fights, bullying, and inappropriate messaging

Several high-profile tweeters were targeted recently by a bully who posted inappropriate content about them, and a group of young women were targeted by a local tweeter who wanted to see nude photos, then chastised them for not sharing.

“It’s hard. It makes me feel gross. I’ve blocked him now but I feel uneasy when I see other people talking to him,” one user said. “I want to tell them all what he said to me but I don’t want to bring it all up again. I’d rather leave it alone.”

“Enough with the faceless, nameless people who hurl abuse!” another high-profile tweeter said.

I am not my workplace

For those who use Twitter openly for both work and personal use, the pressure to stay “on brand” and above-board can be overwhelming.

As one community manager puts it, “people keep asking me work questions on my own account. I was hoping for some time out but there’s no down time when people know where you work.”

“People’s expectations don’t match reality and that’s taken the fun out of Twitter for me,” another user writes. “People expect me to be on call for them 24/7, and then they abuse me when I’m not. I’m feeling frustrated, sad, overwhelmed and over it.”

Twitter is not the Olympics.

Why are so many Twitter users focused on measuring tools like Klout, follower numbers, RTs and the like? It’s exhausting.

“The need to be the most RTed, or replied to or doing that thing where you don’t RT properly and you mangle my carefully crafted tweet by shortening words,” one tweeter said. “Or worse: Make it into a tweet that uses or twitlonger, just so you can get your name in front of it. That still pisses me off.”

You don’t have to be first with breaking news. You don’t have to have 100 Klout. You don’t need 10,000 followers. You aren’t playing for a trophy. It’s not a competition.

The fakes and the wannabes

“The charlatans, the fakes, the really fucking bad writers who publish blogs about writing and engaging with people but with spelling mistakes. It is as damaging to your brain as watching the E! channel without any of the shows, just the loud, shouty, vacuous promos,” one Twitter user said. “And even though you don’t have to, you’d find yourself clicking links and ingesting the rubbish.”

“Twitter is getting overwhelmed with social media gurus who are regurgitating the same stuff, then wanking each other off over it,” another said. “New Zealand is too small for that kind of crap. It puts me off them and using Twitter.”

“The bigger twitter gets, the more it reminds me of High School, and then [I] worry I’m not cool enough,” another user wrote.

Simone McCallum has blogged about her experience of nearly giving up Twitter – give it a read.

So what can we do about twittexhausion?

Here’s five steps I suggest you take to relieve some of the Twitter fatigue

  1. Have a break. Turn the Tweetdeck off, go for a walk or watch some telly – even if it’s just for a few minutes. Don’t tweet your rage.
  2. Re-assess Twitter’s place in your life. Recognise which of your buttons are being pushed, and why, then deal with that by talking it through with a friend, writing it down, or however you process.
  3. Make a private list, and fill it with people who make you smile. Use that as your main feed.
  4. Assert yourself. If you don’t like the way someone is tweeting at you, tell them – and if you have to, block them. Be polite about it, but don’t stand for behaviour which makes you uncomfortable.
  5. Go out for drinks with like-minded Twitter users and have a big bitch. Get it off your chest, then have a laugh about it. You’ll feel much better knowing that you aren’t alone.

11 Replies to “Five reasons Twitter users want to quit”

  1. Great post Cate. I think over time you start to declutter a bit – this happens with friends, with stuff round your house, with other interests outside of your job. So in the beginning you were happily following loads of people as you thought you shared interests, but after a while you want to just filter down to the ones you really enjoy sharing with and the rest is just noise. Its an evolution.

    The bullies/stalkers etc are just like those kids at school – always wanting attention and always hassling someone.But still acting like they are 6.

    PS – thanks for the link love love!

  2. Great post!

    Occasionally I fall in with a bad crowd and Twitter become s a chore I’d rather not perform. If it happens too many days in close succession I have (twice now) simply de-activated my Twitter account, created a new one….and started over. I realise I could just unfollow or even block the people I have come see as the source(s) of the annoyance, but I also see it as an opportunity to take what I have learned and re-invent myself on Twitter at the same time. I want their (whoever) response to me to be as fresh as I wish my own response to Twitter to be. Thus I have morphed from Linuxluver to Floatingmeme to nza1 – roughly annually. It’s my way of distancing myself with out signing off completely. It also gives me the sense I’m not in it for the popularity….as starting with zero followers after having have 700-800 or so is a humbling moment. I don’t really matter. I don’t take it too seriously. It isn’t me. It’s just something I do.

    Perspective. Humans are bad at it. It’s a work in progress. To that end…Twitter is a useful tool.

  3. Wow. I never knew people were having this kind of experience on twitter. Then again I walked through high-school and work places with the same attitude I have about most things: I don’t give two shits about who hates who (or me for that matter), what the latest fad is, or who the cool kids are. I pay attention to, and interact with those who are saying or doing interesting things. I stay away from vexatious people. I don’t change who I am for anyone. Know that “haters gonna hate” meme? That’s me. I’m that guy erry day.

    Like Steve above and others have said, twitter is a useful tool. The operative word here being “tool” – people forget that you can and should put it down after you’re done using it.

  4. Taking a break or re evaluating what you want to get from Twitter helps. Im about to put my account on ice forever. I think once you leave, you will then find out rather quickly whether the platform had any value in your daily life, the point of which I am seriously beginning to question.

  5. Another great piece Cate. I particularly love the comment “Twitter is getting overwhelmed with social media gurus who are regurgitating the same stuff, then wanking each other off over it,” Gold!

  6. Awesome post! Reason number 1 is exactly why I left for a while and honestly it was the best thing I could do. I did miss following certain people though (yes including you!) so now I am back I’ve been VERY selective about who I follow. I want to read things from people who make my day better, not who make me frustrated and angry with petty dramas and stuff that quite frankly only has a place offline.

  7. I’m not sure. I think people read too much in to it. People need to get over it – it’s just Twitter. If you don’t like it, don’t use it. Y’all are depicting Twitter as if it is something that runs your life. To be honest, I don’t know why people follow me, I have the most boring tweets; but i still enjoy it because I’ve met some awesome people through Twitter, and I like conversing with people from all around the country.

    I agree about going out for a few drinks with like-minded users for a bit of a bitch though 🙂

  8. I enjoyed your post. I’ve learned to ignore the dramas. I’ve unfollowed people that just irritated me and filled my timeline with their crap. I have a private ‘friends’ list I live in. I’m not likely to leave anytime soon for the simple reason that I actually like the personalities I’ve met online and when I get to meet them in real life and convert the personality into a real person? Magic.

  9. Cool blog Cate, and I think all five of these have definitely crossed my mind more than once.

    Loving the tips at the end, particularly the one about creating a list of the people who make you smile and making it your main feed.

  10. Maybe Twitter is like a cafe or a bar? Sometimes you turn up and it’s full of people you are not the least bit interested in. Sometimes it’s populated with your best friends. Sometimes it is deserted.

    In the end it’s not really the venue that is the issue, it is the attitude you come to it with. It is all about managing expectations.

    I have connected with some amazing people over Twitter. I enjoy thrashing out an issue, learning something new, helping people out or leaning on the #lazyweb. Mostly though I like having a laugh, and there are plenty of those to be had on Twitter!

    I like it on Twitter. When I stop liking it I will leave. For now I am happy.

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