Twitter Distracts and Annoys

Not all Web 2.0 applications are advances. Twitter encourages self-absorption and rude behavior in business settings. Pro or con?

Pro: Stop Tweeting and Start Listening

It was on a gorgeous summer day that I vowed I would never Twitter.

I was speaking at a Seattle conference of tech-savvy professionals, feeling rather old fashioned as I tried to network (i.e., talk to people in person) before the opening session. The guy on my right was zoomed in on his iPhone (AAPL). “What are you doing?” I asked.

“Twittering the conference,” the man said. He didn’t look up—just kept tapping. The woman next to me had her laptop browser open to Twitter, too. I was surrounded. That’s when I made my vow.

A recent Web 2.0 fad, Twitter is an instant messaging stream, or microblog, that allows you to publicly broadcast short-short messages to your “followers.” But I think it’s bad for business.

Twitter is the ultimate in self-centeredness. To imagine that anyone would want a running commentary of every moment of your life puts you—as a businessperson—at the center of your world when in fact that’s where your customer should be. It feeds the isolated narcissist who wants “followers,” rather than live contact with actual customers.

If I am tweeting about my lunch with you while we’re having lunch, then we’re not having lunch together. If you’re tweeting while we talk, we’re not talking. And if your customers are tweeting, they can’t be buying from you.

In this world of pseudo-personalized and artificial everything, real contact is better for business. Pick up the phone, people. Go visit a client. Go to an event. And don’t be afraid to talk to the people you meet there.

Con: Twitter Facilitates Business

At first, I thought Twitter was ridiculous. Who could possibly want to know what I was doing? And why would I want to know what they were doing?

Instead, a year and a half later, Twitter has become an important part of my daily information flow. How?

First, as you gain followers, Twitter can serve as an incredible knowledge network. I’ve found software for my new Mac, good deals on hosting services, recommendations for office chairs, and answers to a zillion other questions I’ve tweeted.

Second, by allowing me to follow leaders in their field who Twitter, the microblog suggests where I should focus my attention. New Web services, products, tools, research—I’ve found all via others who “tweet” about their work. Following media outlets as well can alert you to breaking news. I find myself reading my Twitter stream far more than RSS feeds.

Third, Twitter has connected me to people, face to face. If I go to a conference, a quick Twitter search can reveal who else is there. I’ve met fascinating people—and yes, generated business deals as a result.

Fourth, Twitter has deepened my connections with people I know. I’ve learned about new aspects of their lives. And for home office workers, Twitter can turn into a virtual water cooler that eases the isolation.

Corporations like Comcast (CMCSA) and Southwest Airlines (LUV) use Twitter as a customer service tool (BusinessWeek, 09/08/08). Political campaigns employ it to keep supporters informed. Heck, the Los Angeles Fire Department is even tweeting out fire alarms (useful if you live there).

So is Twitter a nuisance? Like any tool, it all depends upon how you use it. For me, the answer is: No way. Twitter and other microblogging services are here to stay.

Opinions and conclusions expressed in the BusinessWeek Debate Room do not necessarily reflect the views of BusinessWeek, BusinessWeek.com, or The McGraw-Hill Companies.

Reader Comments

Dan Hollings

I think the answer lies more in determining your strategy up front with Twitter, rather than whether Twitter is a pro or con business tool.

Twitter can be a total waste of time or a totally awesome tool. Again, the difference lies within your strategy. Unfortunately, most people and businesses jump in to Twitter with no strategy at all.

If I had to vote pro or con for Twitter, personally it is a hands-down pro vote by me. Of course, I'm using solid strategies and it's returning great results.

Richard Kannegieser

I definitely side with Dan York and Dan Hollings on this one. It all comes back to how you use Twitter. If you hard sell, follow random people at mass, drop nothing but links to your pages, and try to use it for one-way communication, you will without a doubt fail. But on the other hand, if you use it to obtain feedback, make real loyal friends and fans, provide quality information, and actually have conversations, it can be an incredibly powerful tool that can yield exponential results.

L Martin Johnson Pratt

I have been a part of the Technology Revolution for most of my teenage and adult life, starting in 1987. I host a weekly technology radio show on 90.3FM in NYC WHCR, a public radio station, on Mondays for the past six years called, Technocolorradioshow.

Obviously if you approach anything in life expecting it to fail, it fails 90% of the time. Likewise, if you are easily distracted by TV and radio and find it hard to focus in general, anything will distract you.

Twitter without any argument from me could be a distraction. We also could be facing a recession; however, we all know that we are in a recession. Likewise with Twitter, it is the ultimate tool of Gen W2--Web 2.0--because it spans across racial, demographic, national, gender, and generational boundaries to create a unified field of access. Imagine you needed to reach George Soros or you were wondering aloud, what would Warren Buffet do? Twitt it and watch amazingly responses from Soros watchers or Buffetites or even maybe the actual person.

Next the business model created by this application allows all businesses large or small to track what is being said about ad campaigns, product launches, or direct publicity in real time.

I am sure, as seen on Mad Men, the TV series on AMC, most office managers thought that the Xerox machine was a time waster.

In 1987 I was there when I was 15 and installing the first standalone PCs--IBM AT with 20mb HD for a major bi-state authority financial planning group on the East Coast. Do you know what the senior financial planner told me when I tried to show him how to use SUPER CAL3 (the predecessor to Lotus, Quattro, and Excel)? He laughed and said, "Entering data is a huge waste of time." Many had this thought with technology over the years, and unfortunately some of the technology has been a huge source of distraction in addition to being a waste of energy and time. Twitter, however, is not a waste of time or energy if you use it properly.

So as you may guess, I am pro-Twitter. But as with anything in life, the caveat is how you plan to use it.

Martin Johnson

Jonathan Jensen

Dan makes a lot of good points. The one that resonates with me is the home office worker. Twitter is great for an extra contact.

@Sistory, @DryerBuzz

Someone tweeted this article, thus here I am. Every opinion about Twitter is absolutely correct. Which is the greatest thing about Twitter. I've seen the explosion from the days of few tweets to today--scary. To think once upon a time people didn't know what to do with Twitter. Yesterday I had a "Twitter sale"; today I wondered if Twitter was the end of the world or the beginning. Then later today, I became hooked on watching Twitter live http://search.twitter.com. Unlike my own Twitter page, it refreshes and alerts. Oh my God. My only saving grace--I can't Twitter from my phone. So I do get a Twitter break twice a day when in traffic. But I'm not in traffic often because I follow @atlantatraffic.

random

Twitter is like any tool. If used wisely, it can be beneficial. If abused, it's a waste of time, effort, and bandwidth. But I can't shake the idea that instant messenger would do the same job as most of the tweets being sent out today. Short public announcements are one thing, but up-to-the-second updates to locate people and see who's doing what can be done by mobile versions of YIM, AIM, and MSN.

JoeHageOnline.com

Twitter will help my business: I'm following social media experts like Shel Israel that I hadn't discovered before Twitter. Another user directed me to this relevant article.

And I may be able to widen my sphere of influence among those who click through to the marketing concepts I share online.

L Martin Johnson Pratt

To Random, this is unique and unlike the mobile versions of YIM, AIM, AND MSN, because it provides common platform. You do not have to have software--just access to Twitter dot-com.

Additionally this platform of just straight text levels the playing field, and because it spans across racial, demographic, national, gender, and generational boundaries, it creates a "unified field of access" (copyright pending, LOL).

Vicki Brown

Ilise, it's not Twitter that was the problem that day. Rudeness is rudeness. The tools are not to blame. The guy with the iPhone could have been on a call just as easily. The woman with the laptop? Checking e-mail.

You say "If I am tweeting about my lunch with you while we're having lunch, then we're not having lunch together. If you're tweeting while we talk, we're not talking." That's absolutely true. Now replace "tweeting" with "taking a call" (something a lot of people do), and it's just as rude--and not even using the Web!

As is so often the case, the problem doesn't lie with the technology. Used wisely or used badly, the use is in the hands of the users.

Eric Yaverbaum

I think Ilise makes excellent points. When someone takes a cell phone call in the middle of a meeting, do you like it? Anyone else feel like throwing their Blackberry in the Hudson? Cell, text, e-mail, social networking...what happened to weekends?

How about breakfast where we actually talk? No Blackberry. No cell. No Twitter zones?

I have dabbled in Twitter. But it is a bit much. After a while of seeing what my friends were doing after coffee, I started to wonder, how do I fit this one into my day? Who cares? I did try to find the value, and I continue to be open minded, but I do believe that Ilise makes the better case.

Maybe I'll call her? Talk directly? Or heaven forbid speak to a speaker at a conference who happens to sit down next to me and say hello.

Joan Damico

Agreed, that it's not the tool, but how it's used that determines the tool's effectiveness. What Ilise is referring to is really a general lack of courtesy by people absorbed in technology. It's endemic to the business world: texting, e-mailing, tweeting, etc., during meetings or conferences while a speaker is speaking. And anyone with teenagers can attest that teens' heads are constantly buried in their cell phones texting friends. So where Mom taught us not to talk with our mouths full, today's moms should teach not to text with with your ears full. Stop, look, and listen still apply.

@mvolpe

Twitter is a great resource, especially for anyone in marketing or PR. I have gotten a number of pieces of PR coverage for my company simply because I am using Twitter.

Peter Kim

I heard about this article on Twitter. What's the likelihood someone would have called me up and said, "Hey, are you at the computer? Open a Web browser and type in the URL www.businessweek.com/debateroom"?

Distribution breadth is the key.

Steve Woodruff @swoodruff

The weakness in Ilise's position is that she only focuses on two aspects of Twitter: its potential encouragement of narcissism and its potential to cause people to disengage. While both of these can happen, the opposite happens far more when Twitter is used well. It is an awesome tool for people to serve one another with resources and connections, and it can be used to encourage live conversations be helping folks get to know one another better at a distance. People could have (and undoubtedly did) make the same arguments against many of the advances that we now take for granted in everyday life.

Angie Perez

I'm not familiar with Twitter, but this reminds me of my New Year's Eve experience 2008, 2007, where text messaging and receiving text messages was the crowd favorite over traditional hugs and kisses. Ilise, my impression from your experience described above, would be that you value face-to-face contact and what may have thrown you off or disturbed you is the reality that not everyone networks the same way you do. If the two individuals tweeting have a following, their purpose may have been to bring the conference experience to their fans and not to meet you. The world is too big to just network in the real world. I agree with the rest. If used with a strategy, it can be a great business tool.

@KimDushinski

Twitter is useful for me for business, because I see it as a relationship-building tool. It helps me to interact in small, easy ways with people who I then get to know. And it has been said for years that success in business is all about who you know.

I love Twitter. It is a pro vote from me.

Donna Gunter, OnlineBizU.com, @donnagunter

Saying you'll never Twitter in your business is quite short-sighted. I wasn't an early adopter of Twitter, and I will admit it does drive me crazy sometimes. However, I've gotten real results from it--a new client just this month and a number of subscribers to my e-mail list. However, I strategically use Twitter and have a plan for how and when it's used. There will be Twitter abusers, just like there are cell phone abusers, but I'd hate to return to the pre-cell-phone days, as well. Don't give up an an application just because you encounter rude users. Adopt it, make it your own, and use it in a way that works for you.

winehiker

Ilise, with all respect that I'm sure is due you, when everybody around you is using the next-generation tool, that's the sound of a 2x4 hitting you over the head. You're supposed to say "A-ha! This is my new directional road sign." And who says you can't carry on real conversations as you always did? To be sure, with Twitter, you can actually involve yourself in more of them and know something about who you're talking to before your conversation starts.

I surely had my reservations originally about Twitter, but as I began to see others in my blog community steadily adopting it, I realized I only had one recourse: to start tweeting.

As a result, my community has not only widened exponentially, but also our ties are dramatically strengthened and we're continually making arrangements for face time. Barriers are down, business is up, and I can't imagine why I resisted as long as I did.

The Earth is round, Luddite is dead, Twitter is real, and like Dan York says, it is here to stay.

@ecstewart

"Everything in moderation" will always be my mantra for anything in life. Initially, I signed up but still didn't "get it." Months later, I was all a Twitter. As a home-studio artist, I find it is the water cooler that keeps me laughing, but I'm also learning how to steer this Web 2.0 vehicle appropriately.

Fern Dickey

My experience thus far has been that people are twittering:

1. Too much. One guru twitters 20-plus times a day.
2. For self-serving reasons (rarely have I found something useful).
3. About their companies--news is great, but I can read about it in a magazine or in their e-zine.

Just like constantly checking e-mail, the barrage of twitters breaks concentration. It may well morph into something useful, but it's not there yet.

Jane Kirsch

I realize that social networks such as Twitter are a way of life for the Millennium Generation, but there is still a whole world of us who continue to build successful, meaningful businesses with limited use of Web 2.0 services. The two people who were too busy staring at electronic screens to meet and talk with Ilise Benun missed an opportunity.

I'll continue to sample the social media networks, but I will also continue to build real relationships with real mentors and clients face to face.

Being constantly wired in can mean constantly missing what's actually happening around you. There needs to be a happy medium.

subell

I don't get it. When do people actually work?

Clifton Alexander, yourreactor.com

If I tried to network with someone and they were twittering instead of talking to me, I would be highly annoyed. I guess I just don't know enough people on Twitter to understand it's usefulness. But I agree with "Random" that any tool used wisely can be beneficial.

Laura Foley

I am a Gen Xer, so I straddle the divide between totally wired and Luddite. While I rely heavily on e-mail to communicate with my clients and maintain a personal blog, I have never used Twitter and only rarely text my pals. As any photographer or videographer can tell you, recording an event such as a wedding, lecture, or business meeting distances you from it. So in my mind, tweeting at a meeting (ha, ha) is no different. If you have made the effort to be someplace, then you owe it to yourself to experience it.

Scott Scotch

Considering that I was not deep in the social media sphere, I was extremely hesitant about Twitter when I originally heard about it. I couldn't fathom a reason people would be interested in knowing what I do on a day-to-day basis.

However, since joining, I have found it to be a great resource to connect with people in a profession I would love to get into, and a place to get information that I more than likely would not have been exposed to. Say what you want, but Twitter is an integral part of my day.

Penny Thomas

In 1844 Morse sent via the electromagnet telegraph "What hath God Wrought?" It opened up communication over long distance using fingers to tap out a message. Next came the telephone; we could actually hear someone talk miles and miles away. Now with Twitter, we are going backward to tapping out a message. Is this progress? I think not.

Penny Thomas

Mary K Weinhagen

Yes, I, too, am here reading as a result of a tweet.

I love Twitter for all the reasons previously mentioned and want to point out that listening is always important--on or off Twitter.

When I first saw the title of the "pro" comment I thought it was going to be pro-Twitter and found "Stop Tweeting and Start Listening" to be good advice, meaning "read more tweets than you post."

Then I reread the Debate description--"Twitter Distracts and Annoys"--and realized my error. Of course Twitter can distract and annoy, but why let it when so much good can come of Twitter?

B.L. Ochman

Ilise: Twitter distracts and annoys if you allow it to. It also provides up-to-the-minute business intelligence, an opportunity to interact with customers (Zappos, H&R Block, and Dell, for example) in a meaningful way, and a way to network with people you might never meet in person. It magnifies the network to one that's worldwide and that frequently results in off-line meetings, deals, dinner, etc.

Where I agree with you is that tweeting while with someone is totally rude--the same way it's rude to talk on a cell phone or text while you're with someone.

It's all part of the environment. You'd do well to look at the positives, because Twitter can change your business in very substantial ways.

Lisa Neal Gualtieri

Ilise and Dan made excellent points, but neither focused on the biggest issue of all, information overload.

I use Twitter occasionally and every time, I start hyperventilating at all the things I should read, the friends I should respond to--so I deal with it by telling myself I am observing the emergence of a fantastic form of health communication, and then I tell my students to use it.

Robbin Block

With any medium, if it supports your goals and you have the resources, use it. As anyone who has been to a corporate meeting will testify, people using Blackberries, iPhones, and laptops to check their e-mail during the meeting is nothing new and very rude indeed. As for the conference, sounds like the users were acting more like reporters.

dorrie

There is a guy here in my neck of the woods by the name of Jim P. who is very successful in business and also has lots of money. It goes together, I would think, that he's probably about 10 years too old to be a boomer, but when asked, "To what do you attribute your success?" he said, "Honesty, hard work, setting goals, following your passion, and treating others the way you would like to be treated." Nothing about computers, and he's still going strong in spite of the fact that computers have "taken over" our part of the world like everywhere else.

random

"To Random, this is unique and unlike the mobile versions of YIM, AIM, AND MSN, because it provides common platform. You do not have to have software—just access to Twitter.com."

That's true, but then again, we're talking about applications that millions of people have. And it actually costs more to get a tweet on your mobile phone than it does to have a quick IM chat. Unless of course you have unlimited access via your company and in this case all bets are off.

"Additionally this platform of just straight text levels the playing field, and because it spans across racial, demographic, national, gender, and generational boundaries, it creates a 'unified field of access'"

It's a nice buzzword, but I'm not sure what this whole bit is about. It sounds like a heavy-handed marketing pitch circa 1998 more than anything. Straight text still has language and geographic boundaries. Your tweet is of no use to someone who doesn't speak or understand your language, and if a country censors certain sites, your tweet will never get through. And is there any study that the use of an IM client is different by race and gender? Just curious since this was brought up.

Susie Blackmon

Love Twitter but not the "I'm taking the kids to school" stuff. NPR, Guy Kawasaki, FoxNews, favorite realtors, and bloggers--so many to watch. I get new ideas and Web sites to research ahead of those who aren't on Twitter, and the knowledge is so valuable. Love it.

Rochelle

I believe anything that divides your attention from the moment at hand is counterproductive overall. Am I the only one who gets a pain watching how many people in any large group are tapping away on handheld devices instead of truly interacting with those around them?

@ChristinaHills

Twitter is here to stay. I side with Dan York. I have found solutions to problems that I had for eight months with Twitter. I have also formed stronger in-person relationships as a result of meeting people and getting to know them on Twitter.

-Christina Hills
"The Shopping Cart Queen"

Dara Turransky

I don't think you can blame the tool for a person's misconduct. I use Twitter as an informal communication tool for those who are interested in my company. I've made a few connections that otherwise would have been difficult to make. Don't blame the technology; blame the users who abuse it.

Aliza Sherman

I'm actually saddened and disappointed by Ilise Benun's comments. They are all based around her fundamental misunderstanding of Twitter and how and why it is being used.

The "rudeness" she is talking about is not a Twitter issue--it is people lacking in manners, and it stems from improper cell-phone and PDA etiquette, not Twitter.

The "self-absorption" she attributes to people who Twitter isn't any more self-absorbed than posting your opinion on BusinessWeek.com. I would never question why Ilise would post an opinion on BusinessWeek.com, which is clearly a smart marketing tactic.

I wouldn't say, "Ilise, you really shouldn't be posting to BusinessWeek.com--or to your Web site or to your blog--because you need to be getting out there face to face with your clients. When you are writing articles and newsletters and blog posts, you aren't doing business." That would be silly for me to say any of those things.

Not embracing Twitter--or any other efficient and effective communications and networking tool --is bad for business.

Her comments hark back to the mid-1990s, when I tried to persuade women business owners that they should be using the Internet, e-mail, and the Web for their businesses. And many of them told me: "I'm never going to use the Internet. It is just a fad. And it takes me away from doing business face to face with my customers."

By the way, today many of those women e-mail me regularly to network and stay in touch. And they all have Web sites and even blogs. Some even have Twitter accounts.

Patrick Byers

It's impossible to have a worthwhile opinion about Twitter until you've tried it--really given it a shot. Twitter is like real life. It can be as valuable or worthless as you want it to be.

The key is following the people talking about the things that matter to you, and sharing the things you think audiences would appreciate. I follow marketing people with smart ideas, tech people with cutting-edge news, and mommy bloggers who give me more perspective on parenting (among other things).

And contrary to the pro argument above, some of the more interesting things I've seen have been "live-tweeted" from an event. Further, the people sending Twitter updates are actually more actively listening than you might expect: They are looking for the most valuable and interesting kernels for their audience.

Amelie Walker

Social media, including Twitter, has tremendous marketing and networking potential (among numerous other uses), but you really do have to use it to understand this. Face-to-face and phone contact are of course very important for business. However, using Twitter is an entirely different thing and ideally should be used in addition to these traditional strategies.

So many things can be a distraction--answering phone calls or e-mail or IMs or texts--and it is important to balance time and energy.

Don't blame Twitter for people's bad manners. Someone who is Twittering during lunch is the same person who will answer texts or answer phone calls instead of talking to the person with them. It's rude, but it's not Twitter's or the cell phone's fault.

@jesseluna

I'm here because of a Twitter tweet as well. Twitter is the nexus point of social networking. Anyone with a social media and networking strategy has to use Twitter to be in the game. Sure, some people tweet about what they had for lunch, but in the next tweet the same person might point you to a vital article, a job announcement, or disaster alert in your area.

Anthony Russo

Really Twitter is something that when explained sounds utterly ridiculous to anyone who doesn't know what it is. It takes using it for a bit to really "get" it.

Experiencing it on the outside like Ilise did is of course going to get a negative reaction. Especially with people that can't put it down to talk to someone in front of them. That's just rude no matter what you are doing.

Anthony Russo
Conferencing Consultant
Great America Networks Conferencing

@ctanowitz

Twitter, like any communications tool, only holds value if you can either reach the audience you want to reach or get relevant information from those who are there.

If you're in certain aspects of the tech world it's a great resource. I find a lot of information out from people I follow on Twitter. In other areas, probably not so much.

But the same people who often dismiss Twitter are also on Facebook and regularly read the status updates. They get a lot of useful, and personal, information from those. Once that audience realizes that Twitter is just the status update pulled out on its own, they begin to understand its power.

Bob Bly

If I caught one of my employees Twittering, it would tell me I need to give them more to do, because they obviously don't have enough real work to keep them busy during the day. Social networking is largely a waste of time, and Twitter is the biggest time waste of them all.

Janet Sellers

Besides the pros and cons, there is also the middle. These days, kids and young adults are multitasking ad nauseam. But that is my take on it. For them, they are not offended as much as I am. Their world bombards them with so much asking for their attention, they have coped, not by singling out, but by going global and doing it all. Sometimes I feel as if I am the TV and they are multitasking just when I thought I was talking to them. So...

While marketing grabs for it all in myriad ways, their target fields things much better. I do think that relationships thrive case by case, and the proof of the pudding is still in who consumes and who does not--my own preferences aside, darn it.

Jessica Valenzuela

As an interactive advertising entrepreneur and social media enthusiast, I find Twitter to be a positive tool. The positive gain from Twitter highly depends on how you use it.

This is how I've used it:

- to promote campaigns my agency created and delivered
- to promote events that my social network for women is hosting
- to be your "accomplish bell" when you've closed a contract or a presentation meeting goes well.
- to ask questions about tools you need for your business. For example, we had a project that required generation of zip code ranges for 1,500 zips. Manually, it would have turned into a 150-hour job. I asked about it on Twitter, and received great suggestions that saved the team and my client 150 hours of data-entry work.

On a personal level, I find Twitter is fun when you can interact and connect with family and friends instantly by zeroing in on their activities and their thoughts.

@davidlaplante

Twitter has its pros and cons just like any channel for communicating and any social group. I've been tweeting since December of 2006 and have seen it undulate through its many phases.

At it's best, I'm a fan of Twitter for:
* latent relationship awareness
* meeting new people with similar interests
* finding/recruiting talent for my business
* creating new communities
* crowdsourcing ideas and information
* socially filtering content
* awareness of more perspectives

At its worst, I've seen folks:
* say things they shouldn't
* lose their focus (not Twitter's fault!)
* create angst over issues not worthy of being an issue
* drink and tweet things they wish they hadn't

It's a mixed bag, but it's success is just that. It's clearly not for everyone, but for me, I'm glad to have it.

Scott King

Twitter itself is useless. The way people use it, extend it, and tie into it is not useless.

Simple things with complex potential, like bamboo or peanuts.

John Thompson

Of course, like so many other things in the world, Twitter is only as good or bad as its users. In and of itself, Twitter has no value. It owes its existence and value to how it's used--"Guns don't kill people. People kill people." But anything that has "twits" for users is suspect, in my humble opinion.

Ilise Benun

Writer Ilise Benun Responds:

I clearly see the benefits of Twitter from a marketing point of view. And I agree with everyone who said that I shouldn't blame Twitter for the bad manners of others, in the same way that I can't blame Google (or the World Wide Web) for the fact that I can no longer read deeply or finish a book without getting distracted and fidgety.

One beef I have with Twitter (and any other newest new thingy) is time.
If I add this tool, something will have to go. What will it be? Should I stop communicating via e-mail? Stop answering the phone? What have others given up in order to add Twitter to their lives? Billable time with clients?

But that's not even the real issue. I value the slowness of the thinking and communicating process. And I am often horrified by what happens when I whip off a quick and unthought-out response just to check it off my list. More often than not, it comes back to bite me. That's why I like to take my time, to write a draft, then go back to it an hour (or a
week) later to change a word, maybe two, in an attempt to get as close as possible to the idea I am trying to communicate, even if it's a simple e-mail message or a comment on a Web site. (That's why this response has been so "slow" in coming.)

I want to take time to think and to reflect, to make good decisions and communicate clearly. That seems less and less possible in a world that is Twitter-enabled. That is the main reason I resist Twitter. So for now I am choosing to forgo the marketing benefit in exchange for one I consider to be much more important: peace of mind.

By the way: I've been known to reject a new technology out of hand and then turn around and write a book about it. So if I end up authoring a book on Twitter or microblogging somewhere down the road, I don't want to hear "I told you so."

Deidre

I have to agree with Ilise's comment. For me, it's about information overload vs. peace of mind. I could spend my entire day on Twitter and find myself raggedly overwhelmed by the end of the day, without having done any billable work.

I suppose it's all about finding balance, and having a brain that's equipped to handle (what for me feels like) overload.

Or maybe I'm just technologically jaded. (I still think BlackBerrys are the embodiment of evil.)

Peleg Top

Ilise has exposed a nerve that has caused me to look at my own time online. Since I signed up to Twitter a few weeks back, I found it to be totally useless and just another time-sucker. In fact, I'm about to unsubscribe to it, as I am to LinkedIn. I simply don't have the bandwidth to keep up with it all. And not to mention all the people whom I don't even know who want to connect and follow me. It's just a little creepy.

I love technology when I can see the benefit it brings. If I can be more productive and make connections that matter, then I'm all for it. It seems to me that our ego plays a big part in this game of "look how many people I know."

So Ilise, thanks for helping me Link out and un-Twitter.

Brian Monahan, Expert in the Rough

Live and let live. If you like to use Twitter, then use it. If you don't like it, don't use it.

If you don't like people who Twitter, don't hang out with them.

If you like people who Twitter, hang out with them.

Don't knock it till you try it either.

I felt silly when I first signed up for Twitter, but it can be a very decentralized source of information.

I work in audiovisual productions. A co-worker was working an event and mentioned the awesome stage set. I asked for a picture. Before my coworker could get back to me, somebody I was following on Twitter was in attendance at the event and TwitPicked a picture. It was exactly what I needed. Total coincidence that a person from Arkansas was attending a conference my company was producing in Cincinnati, or maybe Twitter is breaking down the barriers for communication.

This was a business benefit for me to have this picture in hand to share with another client.

Angie_Perez

Ilise, if you have negative thoughts about Twitter, you will have a negative experience.

I believe you are in the business of self-promotion. Tools are tools. If you use Twitter strategically, you might get a new client that you wouldn't have met otherwise--maybe even a friend or two. Question is: Do you want to add Twitter to your marketing plan? Will it take time from something else? Sure. Because as with all things in life, anything worth doing takes time.

Imagine having a following of 200 people, people you would have never met, and then maybe 30 people buy your book because they "feel" like they know you. Maybe they come to the conclusion that you must know what you are talking about, which leads to 30 new sales, 30 new contacts, who knows. Sky's the limit.

I think you're overanalyzing and missing out on a huge market. You can Twitter slowly and maybe once or twice a day.

Last, you can't live your life afraid to make mistakes. Good people do good business. If you believe in yourself, you won't make mistakes.

Life is about balance. If you're happy with your marketing strategy and it's as automated and has a great return on investment, then don't overdo it.

I agree: Piece of mind is priceless.

Linda Margaret

I think we tend to forget that these software tools are just that, tools. We determine how to use them, how useful they are in our lives, and whether to recommend them to others.

I like Twitter; it's my personal news ticker scrolling across the top of my screen with news from the sites and people whose news I trust. If I want to follow a link, I do so. My younger brother prefers to use it as a mass messaging machine. This would irritate me and seems rather useless. But he likes it, and those following him like it. Same tool, different results.

brian

I see Twitter as another piece of technology where the general public will go through a period of getting use to it, both sending and receiving. Yes, people are being annoying with too many updates. It is not too dissimilar to when we had to use our cell phones correctly. Not only will (most) people learn to be courteous with their "Twittering" but also others will accept it and become less annoyed.

Benedikt

Isn't this pro/con format a bit outdated? In the past, every new form of communication (and there is growing evidence that Twitter really can count as such) has been much better and much worse than the preceding forms.

Andrea

I simply cannot understand this fad; I have never used it, and I don't think I will.

I don't like social networking, although I understand some of its benefits and how real businesses can benefit from a social networking platform. The thing just for its own sake whether on the net or on the phone, does not make much sense to me.

I don't think it's conducive to real business to "twitter." And frankly they could have picked up a better name. Just the name really does it for me.

@twixels @iphonedevforum

I find myself wondering what I did before Twitter, and also what I have learned from my followers as well as people I follow. Guess what? I am leaving this comment only after being directed via Twitter.

It's okay if you don't want to ever be a Twitter user. Obviously someone who reads your blog uses it, and you should thank them and Twitter for the traffic you've received from this post alone.

I have decided to use Twitter as a way to generate donations for charity via Twixels, which allows people to upload their Twitter profile picture for a fee of $.05 per pixel, and 50% of every purchase is being distributed to a different charity up to eight times a year.

Each and every Twitter user is welcome. I don't think there is anyone else doing this as of yet, and it's a great opportunity for tweeple (Twitter users) to give back to the community.

Without Twitter, this would not be possible. I also have a blog that I promote primarily on Twitter to my followers.

Since first posting to this blog and shooting out my first tweet, I have received more than 3,000 unique visitors, and purely from promoting via Twitter.

I am a Twitter fanatic, and if you can't see the benefits of Twitter, you're leaving a lot of hungry visitors on the table.

Help raise money for charity, get any question answered, and meet new people on Twitter each and everyday.

Remember to use Twitter properly or you'll be ousted as quickly as you joined.

Sincerely,
Joshua Needham
Internetbusinessproductsexposed.com

QuestingElf

I am extremely curious to see the effect Twitter will have on recruiting and job interviews. Will it make it easier for candidates and employers to connect? Or will rudeness in the workplace rise, including in the courting stages?

And will we adopt this philosophy that anything worthwhile must be reduced to 140 characters? No, resumes can't be two pages long, one page long anymore. Resumes must be at most 140 characters long.

Kevin McLeod

This has less to do with Twitter and more to do with the user. Rudeness, arrogance, poor writing skills, etc. are human flaws. Everyone is responsible for how they use these tools and for knowing when not to.

Kevin McLeod
openskye.com

Joanna Poppink

Twitter, in my opinion, is a terrific resource once you get the hang of it and see the myriad of ways people can use it.

Yes, a massive number of tweets come out that are not of interest to me or relevant to my life in what I do personally or professionally.

But there's also a huge range of tweetss that are the voices of people I want to hear and learn from.

I have a private psychotherapy practice in Los Angeles where I treat adults with eating disorders.

Many people with eating disorders tweet about their struggles and victories. This expands my perception of the challenges in recovery.

Colleagues all over the world tweet about their work with urls to their deeper thinking. This is a great resource.

I can keep up with new medical findings. And I can offer information and inspiration materials that help foster recovery.

Twitter is terrific for me as long as I keep the people I follow limited to the right population for me, and that I am efficient with the "unfollow" and sometimes the "block" options when necessary.

Joanna Poppink, MFT
Author, Healing Your Hungry Heart (Conari Press: 02/11)

vibrators

Thanks for this great website. I am trying to read some more posts, but I can't get your website to display properly in my Opera Browser. Thanks again.

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