Twitter as Ego Distillery

Over on our book blog, I point to Vanessa’s excellent and comprehensive post about Twitter. I also get a little snarky about my personal experiences with the tool:

On a personal note, I have very mixed feelings about Twitter. I’ve found that it’s kind of an Ego Distillery. Blog posts, obviously, tend to be pretty self-centered. But because Twitter is restricted to 140-characters per post, it really seems to bring out the self-importance in everyone.

Twitter asks the question “what are you doing?” I find that the answer is too often “something really important”.

That’s why I only post quotations from songs and poems in my own Twitter account. It ensures that I don’t add to my already burgeoning self-centered online presence, and my Twitter followers probably enjoy a break from the banalities of their friends and colleagues lives.

It’s slightly odd to quote myself quoting Vanessa, but I’ve been meaning to express my uneasiness with Twitter outputs on this site, and this was a handy way to do so.

Am I alone in thinking of Twitter as an Ego Distillery?

You might rightfully ask why I’m using the tool at all. And you’d be right too. Simply put, I need to keep an eye on Twitter for professional purposes. Plus, it’s a fun game to think of good quotes.


  1. Glad to hear someone say this, I was starting to think I must be missing the point with Twitter, but I suspect it is just not for me.

  2. I have yet to post anything to Twitter. I had signed up for an account but to this day don’t use it.

    I prefer to read the blog not the twitter of people. 🙂

    Happy Holidays Darren! 🙂

  3. I just re-joined Twitter after ditching it when I got hooked on Face-Crack. I noticed more and more people using it to blog and update facebook. I just had to give it another go. In my opinion, Twitter is great for friends to keep in touch with each other. Women like to know WHAT is going on WHERE and WHEN. It’s not so much about ego as it is INFO. Maybe it’s just a chick-thing.

  4. Ditto with ‘Air’ – I love seeing the little fragments that make up people’s lives. Call me crazy (or pathetic) but I’m finally getting why we call it online ‘community’, because of Twitter. I have delightful (for the most part; not always!) insights about the people I follow, that causes me to feel more connected to them. (what? you have a daschund too? I didn’t know! cool!). Secondly, I get lots of great real-time intel by following the likes of Kawasaki, Merlin Mann, Miss 604 😉 et alia.

  5. Real time. You posting quotes doesn’t do much for me. Unless I ask “why did you post that now?” and then you’ll have to tell me the banal story of what you’re doing anyway.

    Jaiku when IM enabled becomes a giant “Lazy Web” archive (who knows the best tool for X?) as well as, well, the little bits of info updates. Think of it as the equivalent of the side long glance at what other people are doing RIGHT NOW.

    Facebook cell phone enabled for status messages enables real time check ins and coordination around physical activities.

    I’d say something like “try actually using it” … but that doesn’t help…each person has to feel their way into the utility (or non utility! it’s allowed to be just fun!) of these tools.

    I have something like 187 people that “follow” me on Twitter…but I never got hooked on it at all, and use Jaiku instead. From a “professional” point of view, I should probably post “important stuff” to Twitter…except since I don’t use the tool, I’ve never really connected with anyone on there so don’t really know how to use it.

    Of the almost 90 connections on Jaiku, about a dozen or two comment and interact at a furious pace.

    Hmmm. Almost seems like this should be a blog post 😛 It’s more than 140 characters, so it can’t be a Jaiku 😛

  6. I don’t really regard twitter as an ego distillery. I think it’s just a person’s perspective on how one uses twitter as a tool because I use it in conjunction with my blog. Sometimes for fun to make fun of Facebook status updates and other times to share ideas or vent frustrations into the Interweb.

    A blog provides me with the ability to write an idea down in an organized fashion whereas twitter is available for me to jot down ideas on the go.

    The fact that I can use twitter via GTalk within Gmail is a bonus because it is extremely accessible to me as a user. I don’t always have time to blog about something that I’d like to share but I can enter something into twitter very quickly.

  7. I didn’t join until June of this year. At first my twitters were only “work” related as a grad student (working on thesis, working on research paper, reading interesting article while at Starbucks). However that has changed now.

    As I now have a number of iFriends from a variety of user-generated spaces that I interact on, I have become more social with my tweets and I tweet more about my life because that’s what I am getting from them (e.g. watching a movie, on an awesome date, working out). I still tweet announcements of new blog entries which are exclusively research-related, but I don’t hide the social part of my life as I did in the past.

    I think this change occurred because I have expanded my audience. At first only social media, real-world friends were following me, but as I have a significant number of people that aren’t FB friends I have expanded how I use twitter. Again, like FB, Viddler, seesmic, how you use these tools to me depends on your audience and who your friends are. I would feel detacted without twitter simply because it is the only application I have for finding out about the lives of certain iFriends there.

    As I am a student, my FB has far too much personal information to share with just anyone from the Internet (or even real life in some instances) so I use twitter to provide a window into my world. I personally didn’t understand why anyone would care that Phillip is “drinking a latte at Starbucks” but I see that together my tweets create a tapestry of my life and helps again make up for the fact that my FB is generally unaccessible to the people I meet outside of my university/Vancouver circle.

    Also, a significant number of my twitter friends are students and we are more open about what we twitter about (similar to our FB pages or Xanga account) than if we were professionals or members of high status in our community — even though our tweets are usually public and could be viewed by anyone.

    I am on jaiku but I don’t really use it and I don’t stream twitters there. I am on pownce but I don’t really use it either.

    If I was a professional I would probably use twitter differently, but I’m a student and I like to share my everyday life to the other students that care about me (as well as tweet about research stuff sometimes that are of interest to my social media friends).

  8. I value Twitter, because over the past six months or so I’ve gradually increased the number of people I follow, reviewing each one to see if I’ll be interested in what they have to say. The result is a hand-picked feed of 600+ people, most of them involved in some way with social media, marketing, or tech. I consistently find good links to things I’d never find elsewhere. I often find breaking news on Twitter first, partly because I follow professional news folk like @acarvin of NPR and @newmediajim , a cameraman at NBC News. So for me, it’s gone beyond the ego distillery, which maybe it kind of was at first, and its value keeps growing as the list I follow gets fuller and more varied. My own following has increased as well, so when I put out a question on something I generally get useful replies in a few minutes.
    –Len (@LenEdgerly on Twitter)

  9. I restarted my twitter (magslhalliday)yesterday just because I was poking about various Web2 sites and someone pointed out there is now a ‘remember the milk’ plug-in for Gmail under Firefox 2. Further poking led me to restart my twitter because I can use it to interact with ‘remember the milk’ i.e. a txt from my phone goes to rtm via twitter which automatically feeds it in to my gmail to-do list. So I enter the task once and get it in all the places I need (I can also download today’s to do list from rtm via a twitter command).

    Then I discovered the twitter add-on in facebook can now update the FB status (which it couldn’t when I first tried getting the two to interact).

    So I’m essentially using twitter as a free mobile channel to my preferred web apps, rather than an end in itself.

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