There are days when Twitter seems like the final frontier of social media. There’s a certain lawlessness to shouting out into the Internet ether to see where it lands. By lawlessness I mean disorder and randomness.
I have been on Twitter for about 18 months and now look back on my Twitter evolution. There was no doubt that in the early days of my exposure I just didn’t get it. However, like any virtual community and platform experience teaches us the unwritten rules. Whilst there are many social media gurus out there blogging and writing about Twitterland, these are rules that you can only learn from the inside looking in.
In real life they say you are judged by the company you keep. In Twitterland they say you are judged by what you retweet.
Retweeting is somewhat of a science in itself, with the use of the acronyms RT and MT and the vexing question of when does repeating a Tweet move from the realm of the retweet to the modified tweet? And then there’s the issue of whether you simply retweet as in copy the tweet into your feed or do you quote the Tweet and say “RT @ [insert Twitter ID of the person you are retweeting] [Tweet text]”. Doing it one way or another affects the original Tweeter’s influence ranking, on some virtual index somewhere. But these are things you can’t know before you dive in.
And then there’s the Twitter algorithm. Helpfully or unhelpfully, Twitter has a “similar to” feature. This is a list which is attached to your Twitter profile which contains Twitter’s suggestion of those Twits who are similar to you. I hate my similar to list. There I said it, I feel better now.
This is nothing personal to those on my similar to list. I know nothing about these people, I’m sure they are very nice. But if this is meant to be a mirror to my Tweeting soul, I feel it is a little cracked.
You may have heard of the concept of the filter bubble and the notion that in the virtual world everything is specifically tailored to your tastes and preferences based on the data you pump out. The data includes who is on your friends and followers lists. So there you are unknowingly trapped in your little bubble reading about the things you like and what your friends like and oblivious to what is happening beyond it based on some algorithm that predetermines to what you are exposed. The likes of Google, Facebook and Twitter are at great pains to emphasize that their algorithms are entirely objective, purely based on data. However, at some point the algorithm has to be programmed by a human who inevitably has his or her own biases reflected in the output.
So Twitter tells me that my bubble consists of mommy bloggers. And I am not sure why.
True it is that the first three descriptive words in my Twitter profile are Mother, Wife, Blogger. However, my tweets tend to focus on business, leadership, social media and life on general. Added to this is the occasional parenting post and humour tid bit. I will follow mommy bloggers who follow me first, but I certainly don’t seek them out. I don’t post about recipes, cooking, craft, fashion, coupon shopping, shopping in general, parenting tips or drinking alcohol at the end of the day. And, I am not promoting a business from my kitchen.
So Twitter, I just don’t get it. Why does my bubble not consist of business people, humorists and in fact, the occasional male? Am I therefore being judged by the company I don’t keep?
Apologies to any mommy bloggers who may be offended by this post. You guys form an amazing network and pump out great information for those who are interested. It’s just not for me. Probably because I use social media to destress and to expand my non practical horizons.
Perhaps the programmer of the Twitter algorithm is really a mommy blogger. In which case, I have some great suggestions for who she can follow on Twitter.
Have you had any strange platform algorithm experiences? What are your views on the Twitter algorithm?