As much as it saddens me to say this, I’m more and more convinced every day that Twitter has failed as the communication vehicle it originally set out to be. You see, the original idea for Twitter was that it was going to create an atmosphere where people could communicate with lots of people AND as a result, give those people an opportunity to communicate back. Whereas television, radio and rallies tended to present one sided conversations, Twitter was going to offer the opportunity for the channel to go back and forth. Granted, it would be mostly pointed out from the person being followed, but that feedback was an essential part of the dynamic.
Fast-forward a few years, and what we have is a social networking system that has become mostly one-sided. For an absurd example, but one that points out the problem first-hand, look at the account of Kim Kardashian West. She has 58.4 million followers. But more significantly, she follows exactly 131 people. While she does retweet people from time to time, the chances of actually getting a specific reply from her are about as likely as getting a date with Taylor Swift (translation: not likely). If you look at the most retweeted account, that of our current president, it’s interesting to note that he is followed by 47 million and only follows 45 accounts. If you look through some of the most popular accounts on Twitter, you see something very similar to just that.
What this means is that Twitter is not a communication process but a megaphone for people who are popular entities already. Some entrepreneur still needs to invent the process for people to actually have a voice in conversation with others, but Twitter is not it. If you look at the average account, people tend to have at most 100 followers and generally follow a few more than that.
The moral to this story is that quite often people follow the individuals they respect because they wish to interact with that person. But Twitter doesn’t really make that a part of its process, even though it often acts like that’s exactly what is supposed to happen. An example is a celebrity like William Shatner who has 2.57 million followers, follows about 500 and generally has somewhat of an adversarial relationship with anyone who would like to converse with him.
That’s not to say that there aren’t those who don’t communicate with their fans. I’ve followed Marina Sirtis (Counselor Troi from Star Trek the Next Generation) for some time now, and she’s very friendly to her fan base. From time to time, she responds directly to things people say to her. But to be honest, she’s a rarity, whereas most celebrities treat it as a segment of their entourage that they allow tiny morsels of information.
Unfortunately, it’s all we got right now, but it’s so inferior to what I really wish it could be. So, that’s for someone else to invent and bring to the masses. I’ll wait.