My Favourite Social Media Channel

My favourite social media channel is Twitter.

I love Twitter.

I've had it for a long time and have used it almost everyday since - not only to Tweet, but to follow events, friends and news. I prefer the format compared to many others, and the apps that I use to read it and interact with it are what makes it such a great service - I use Tweetbot on my iPhone to tweet, only recently having to use the horrendous Twitter webpage thanks to a failure of my 3G and Wifi at work.

I have talked about it a lot of the past few years. I even gave it up cold turkey a few months ago after losing my patience with idiots on it. I culled 100 people I followed and resolved to use it a lot less, and since then I have rarely posting on it but I am still there, reading and consuming. I read Twitter a lot more now I don't Tweet as often.

I was suspended from Twitter once, and it was confusing and annoying, partly because I liked it but also because I had no idea what I'd done to have my access removed. I even drew a troll to my blog because of this due to my complaining, which was fun.

I have also talked about the requirement for companies to use it well and how it can be used for good (and bad). It's a great tool. And how it democratises us excites me a lot.

But I am worried that a company owns it. Unlike email, phone calls or texts, a company actually owns the service, which is why I think an open source version, point-to-point, would be a great replacement. Kind of like a BitTorrent version of Twitter, where it's not stored on their servers but stored on everyone elses computers and stuff. It's an idea I've had for a while.

But yeah, Twitter's the best. Instragram after that, and Facebook? Slowly becoming the worst place online thanks to endless spamming of likes, adverts and my friends vacating it.


Ah Well

I have extolled my love of Twitter many times on this blog, sometimes when it goes badly and other times when it is a force for good or change. But recently I have came to the conclusion that I actually don't particularly like it anymore.

It's mostly because of three things:
1) It takes up a lot of my time.
2) It forces me to procrastinate.
3) I find that people on it are increasingly forgetful about what it does.

In a recent interchange with someone who I shall not name I became sucked into an Internet Wrong argument, one that was utterly stupid, impossible to "win" or end, and was essentially me throwing water balloons at a brick wall in an attempt to render it invisible - futile.

The subject of the argument was not important for what it showed me - what it showed me was that there are users on the network who don't respect what it does. Twitter gives parity to peoples opinions in platform, but not in weight. You cannot just say something and expect it to be accepted or unchallenged.

When you do challenge and someone says "I am entitled to this opinion" I remind them that they are not.

But what I do see is that people forget that they have a social responsibility and a intellectual reaponsibility to back up their opinions and thoughts. You don't have to do it in a Tweet (140 characters is hard to format it all in) but it needs to be formed. Twitter's format means that this is probably not what everyone thinks. Having to type out ten different replies is something Twitter does poorly. There is also the legal responsibility - you are publishing, not messaging, and you can't libel just as I cannot here.

And it makes me a little bit sick to think that this is what Twitter appears to have become - idiots spouting bollocks is one thing, but idiots flaming, abusing, being racist or homophobic without thinking they are going to be caught or in trouble due to a misplaced concept behind the shield of "free speech". The more I see the media basing their stories on Twitter or actual tweets making the news, the more I don't want to be a part of it.

Which is a shame - it's like pandora's vox. Give the world free boundless communication and we can't help but fuck it up. Which is a shame.

We will see how Twitter goes but for now, a hiatus is needed to cleanse my pallet.

Twitter's Greatest Hits

A telecommunications company which has been the focus of myire on here before recently screwed up an order with my new service, and I was suitably infuriated. I ranted, swearing, and encountering another moment of my seemingly uncontrollable rage that I am trying to control. I liken it to Bruce Banner’s Hulk, but with less green-ness and more swearing. My anger issues will be the subject of a post soon. After calming down, I vented my frustrations onto Twitter, @ replying the company’s Twitter name for customer help. I’ve done this a few times in recent months, with varying levels of success.

After repeating my wish for help on Monday morning, and a friend pointing out that a real person sits at a desk and deals with replies to this name and my swearing probably didn’t help (not directed at BT that time, natch), I was sent a link by @BTcare and thought it was a fobbing off – a link, I guessed, to their online form that I actively avoided using. But instead I was sent to a Twitter form, one that allowed me to detail my claim and fill in my Twitter name in all. Afterwards, three messages from BT saying they were dealing with my problem and, on Tuesday afternoon, a call from the Twitter team saying they were sorting it all out.

I was surprised. Not that BT could fix their problem, but that Twitter’s direct contact to the company, and a company who have a customer service on Twitter, actually got results. Better than a letter, better than a phone call, and certainly better than an email sent to a random inbox; the personal touch. Plus, it meant I felt like I was being taken care of.

I’ve talked to Scotrail about delays on several occasions, and they actively try to reply to travelers asking questions about services. I’ve also Tweeted my headphone manufacturer about problems I’ve had and praise I’ve had for them, and they’ve helped me out when they could.

In the end, it isn’t a revolution, but a brilliant way to deal with customer’s. And after O2’s failure a few weeks ago, and their exemplary dealing with the ire of customers, humouring them, there is a new wave of PR that some companies need to look into and properly work on. BT, amazingly, are ahead of the pack, and the fact that my problem was solved through Twitter is just fantastic. It’s not all puppy photos, what I am eating for dinner, and commenting on what’s on TV…

As an aside, this is just one of many grand uses I see for Twitter. TV engagement is something that many are realising is the future, with Channel 4 applying hash tags rather than titles to their programs, unifying thoughts and discussion in a great way about their programmes. The more broadcaster’s realise that the world is always on, connected, ready to go, the less and less we will see things delayed. Within five years I predict that a company will rise and produce their own original programming, and have it available for anyone, anywhere, instantly. Netflix are going to do with the new Arrested Development – it’s only matter of time.

The collective human hivemind is now always on. What a time to be alive.

A Twitterless Week

It's been a week since I was unceremoniously kicked out of Twitter. I think I have had bad luck for two reasons:
- The first is that I was kicked out on the night before USA's Thanksgiving
- The second is that I have not knowingly broken any of their rules.

See, I found out I had been kicked out (which is what I am calling it
now, rather than being suspended) it was late night on Wednesday for
me (but mid afternoon for the Twitter bots) and I didn't really notice
it. I was surprised and shocked actually, and quite a bit sad about
it. I had suddenly been locked out from my internet, my friends, my
family, and strangely without any reason. I wasn't sent an email
about why I had been suspended, because it was likely to have been a
broken rule. But it was the night before a weekend off for the
Twitter Support team – they even Tweeted about it last week, which is
how I know.

I have since last Wednesday read the rules three times over just to
check that I might have missed a rule that I explicitly broke, which I
can't find. The only things I did on Twiter were chat to friends, send
links, and rant about things that annoyed me – nothing really that
would prick a bot's glancing eyes I think, unless it specifically
looks out for tweets about people not answering phone calls when they
are with held (which was my last Tweet before being kicked out).

You can moan and moan about how it's "just the internet" or "just get another account" but you can fuck off right there – it's not just the
internet, because the internet just isn't anything anymore, and
getting another account belies the point of twitter.

This blog is sheeldz. My email is sheeldz. My Mixcloud is sheeldz
– for want of a better description, sheeldz is my "brand" – it is my
internet name, and twitter have kicked me off my own name. It's like
being told you're no longer allowed to text your friends. It's slowly
annoyed me more and more as the week has progressed, from originally
being bemused and surprised, to be lamentful and annoyed at the bad
timing of it, to now which is just sheer frustration.

All of which brings me to an interesting conclusion – Twitter
shouldn't be a company. See, we might have sleep walked into a bad
moment in history. With telephone calls, texts and emails, letters and
other forms of communication, these were point to point – the method
of delivery was not owned in the same way that Twitter or Facebook are
owned. Twitter are well within their rights to stop me using it as
long as they follow their own procedures to kick me out – if I have
broken the rules, they can tell me to piss off. But without dialogue I
am suddenly left without a valid method of communication, which would have been impossible in the past because my method of communication would be the act of writing a letter not the means of writing a letter – being kicked from Twitter is like being banned from using a pen.

So that's where I am now – annoyed, put out, frustrated, sad and a
little bit let down. Twitter have kicked me out and not told me why
despite saying that they would. So all I can do now is wait and see
what happens. Though, after a week, I am unlikely to be waiting any
longer. I have already started thinking about the best way to modify
my "brand" to a new username, which is a shame.

I created @sheeldz to be me and someone else has taken it from me, and
that's a shame. And if you are reading this and wondering why this is
such a big deal then you don't get Twitter and what it does. I suggest
you look into it – and then smarten up. No one liked those people who
complained about emails back in 1994.

UnTwitter Pt. 1 – 25th November 2011

Until my Twitter account is unsuspended (or Twitter tell me exactly what I did wrong) I am keeping a daily diary of my Tweets that would 
have been posted. 

8:59 AM – I am not convinced by this water bottle I have taken from @Connie_RaeD. Not convinced at all.

9:01 AM – This tweeting with no limits thing is quite interesting. I need to keep myself within 140 characters to make sure this is legit.

9:10 AM – just found the ALT+SHIFT+T time short cut – that will save me a lot of time later on today! :D haha

10.10 AM – wow last night I listened to @danielguntrip and @musicismyradar on the radio and they played The Dismemberment Plan. They're amazing.

10:18 AM – Don't have any cash with me today, so I am stuck eating my lunch but I really fancy a big chicken mayo sandwich. 

11:16 AM – I don't think many people realise that despite "not being on Twitter" I still get the notifications on my iPhone :D

11:17 AM – It feels like I am spying on them. In a good way, of course.

12:08 PM – Really enjoying eating one sandwich these days, and supplementing it with yoghurt, nutrigrain and an apple. And today, an empire biscuit! :D

12:34 PM – Sometimes I worry that no one else knows how good The Phantom Band are.

12:44 PM – The Toronto Blue Jays have updated their logo, which means the one i bought last year is now "retro" :D

1:10 PM – Curry tonight? Why not.

3:44 PM - This day is lame and I am feeling like crap. I don't want to stay much longer. :(

3:45 PM - Update: Still the same.

4:05 PM - I might be able to leave now, but probably shouldn't.

5:01 PM - This guy I am sitting next to on the train is a bastard. Stop elbowing me - read your book better.