Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Twitter Exile

Obviously, social media is nothing more than a conduit for information. All kinds of information, depending on what a person decides to share. It seems to be generally geared towards two distinct demographics: business and personal. It sounds easy enough, but for me the problem lies in between. I'm definitely not a business, and I certainly don't use social media for the purposes of finding friends, romance, or just an anonymous audience to recount my entire day to so I feel important. It was simply another way to promote my chasing. I got on board with social media years after the fact, in all avenues (MySpace in 2006, Facebook in 2009, Twitter in 2011). The only social media tool I got in on early was Google+, and two years later it's still a ghost town.

MySpace died and was replaced by Facebook, which has stood the test of time fairly well considering the age of no attention span in which we live. Because of this, on Facebook, I've got the most contacts, and the most contacts I know to some degree. So posts that have nothing to do with chasing are quite common, as often I seek to simply entertain others with my random, meaningless posting. I'm trying to incorporate G+ in much the same way, albeit a stronger effort to keep it mostly chase-related. But then there's Twitter.

I scoffed Twitter for years because of, like probably many others before me, the 140-character limit. It always seemed pointless to me, because I can provide text with links on FB and G+. But then I started considering how much I could broaden my audience, and eventually took the plunge in October of 2011. We'd had a pair of Twitter accounts since 2009 that Bridget started for the show and for us as chasers, but they had been mostly ignored. I decided to kill the show account, and turn the chasing one into an active resource for information on us and chasing; tweets, links to chase summaries, images, videos, etc. I started a "FROM THE VAULT" series which were random tweets, usually twice daily, that featured a storm or tornado image. I felt it would be a cool way to drum up more interest, and expand beyond our FB following.

For about a year it was good, but then as we collected more and more followers, suddenly the Twitter feed itself, which I had completely ignored for years, was getting busy enough to start being interesting. I had only posted in the year and a half I'd been active on twitter; reading the tweets of others (and interacting with them) had never occurred to me. The big eye-opener was Sally. I logged onto Twitter the night of that historic event, and watching my Twitter feed was almost like watching a live chat. Suddenly I had this new pipeline for networking with limitless new people, some of which might eventually become fans of my work and maybe even buy a video. I knew the percentages would be maybe one in a thousand at best, but I still couldn't resist the temptation of introducing the Twitter world to storm chaser Shane Adams. I was brand new to these folks.

Well, that worked for a little while, until the abrasive asshole side of me (mentioned in another blog entry about a week or so ago) reared its head on what had become my new Sunday evening pass time of drinking beer, reading my feed, and responding to random tweets. This was my way of trying to actually interact with some of the people who followed me, an olive branch of sorts that said "Hey, I see you following me. I read your stuff, and sometimes I have an opinion or a reply to what you say."  I thought people might relate to me more (and in the process get even more into the chasing side) if I actually paid attention to them and showed interest in what they were up to. It was a great idea, and for a while it worked. But then I discovered Twitter had the same sad drawback as every other thing on the world wide web: trolls. Or as they were called before the internet, assholes.

I had a lot of opinions about some of the things being said about chasers, most of which were coming from the Sunflower state (as most anti-chaser sentiments have since 2007). Suddenly, some Kansas followers didn't like me so much, and said so. The problem wasn't that they voiced an opinion, but that they had made their points, but felt it necessary to continue to attack me personally. Even that was tolerable, because some people just need to lash out at others to get through the day. I get it. But then people who I didn't follow, who didn't follow me, were suddenly jumping into the conversation, without analyzing it at all. I was now the bad guy, the jerkoff, the asshole, in a debate in which the root of my opinion lay in the fact I value human life (a fact I repeated more than once but was lost on everyone else). Screen shots of my home address were being tweeted, along with messages like "Here you go" and "Have fun with this guy" and the like, to which I very quietly and seriously replied "Careful what you do with that information."  After all, any dumbshit can access domain registration info on GoDaddy. But the fact it was being posted maliciously bothered me.

By the end, just before I jumped Twitter ship for good, it was a half dozen or so people threatening to hack my website and criticizing Bridget for life choices she spoke very candidly about in a blog that had been written almost five years prior, but was still live on the net. Because nobody can heckle with me online, the back-and-forthing was pointless. These people were shit, losers, and would keep coming back as long as I served them up. So the choice was made to dump Twitter, because it became obvious that more than likely these few dingleberries represented the majority of what was following me. It would've been too much work to cherry pick over 1400 followers to trim the fat, so I decided "fuck it" and simply deleted my account. I tried a brand new twitter account for about two weeks afterwards, adding only people I know and trust, or anyone who mentioned weather or chasing in their bio. But I realized all Twitter had become for me at that point was just a carbon copy of my Facebook feed. I just didn't need it.

So, I've learned my Twitter lesson. I just don't care enough to argue with the asstards that will surely surface whenever I tweet an opinion they deem wrong, harsh, or simply attention-seeking. And cutting them off means cutting off the only reason I tried Twitter in the first place, which is to gain new followers who are interested in my chasing adventures. So chock up yet another marketing failure for this guy. However, learning that quality over quantity isn't just hyperbole was well worth the experience. I'll take the few dozen folks who've always shown interest and supported me throughout the years over the several hundred who clicked "follow" because they're sorta interested in a picture I posted but mostly addicted to clicking "follow."

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