It’s been suggested that Automated Tweets are evil, pernicious, and no darn good. I haven’t quite figured out the logical reasoning behind this thought. It sounds as though I’m being told I must only Tweet something if I’m sitting at my desk or holding a smartphone, prepped for conversation.
Um, excuse me — but I believe that’s dictating unto others exactly how they will utilize a particular social media platform. And we’re all different. So why should it be expected that we all use Twitter the same way?
I’m in introvert. That means I don’t like going out in public, engaging with people face-to-face, or getting overly involved in society. I like to have an opportunity to think about what I’m saying. I don’t like being rushed into a response.
This is what I love most about Twitter and other online forms of social exchange. I can still talk to people, but without all the pressure of having the right shoes, the perfect hair, and the snappy on-the-spot comeback. Sitting in my pajamas and snacking on Cheez-Its, I have the luxury of confidence in comfort. I don’t have to worry about the fact that I didn’t wear any makeup and look like ass. Our dialogue can remain on track.
But now you’re trying to tell me that I have a limited amount of time on my responses. What, pray you tell me, would be the length of time in that statute of limitations? Thirty seconds? Five minutes? A half-hour? At what point is our conversation no longer considered such? And who gets to be the judge of that?
And if we’re going that route, why doesn’t Twitter “close comments” on any Tweets more than say, two hours stale? Are we really going that route? Have we truly lost the ability to stay focused on an exchange that doesn’t garner responses within a prescribed amount of minutes?
Automated Tweets are NOT evil…
One of my very favorite blogging authors is Kristen Lamb, creator of the WANA Tribe for writers. I read every one of her posts, as they are jam-packed with good information and resources. I can’t get enough.
Even as much as I respect Kristen, I disagree with her on the matter of automation. Kristen is completely against it, and has taken that stance quite firmly more than once on her blog:
“People leave comments because they’re looking for a conversation.
When you automate your posts and never hang out there,
people are offended.
It’s like inviting the neighbors to a backyard barbeque
and then hitting the beach
while they’re standing in your yard with empty glasses.
Another great way to teach friends to ignore you.”
I addressed this issue once via the comments section:
“I’ve seen the argument against automation before,
but I think it depends from where you’re coming.
I use Twitter & FB much as I would email or an answering machine
— for slow dialogue that might take place
a sentence at a time over hours or even days.
I figure when I start a conversation online,
it’s already NOT a personal, one-on-one thing
that must take place only during a specific window of time.
I like being able to respond at my own pace,
& allowing others to do the same.
“I can see how inviting others over for a party
& then not having drinks out would be bad.
But what if I invite others over for a party
& leave a keg in the yard to sip on till I get back?
And if I supply the solo cups, even better, right?
It’s like the longest potluck block party EVER.
Everyone stops by as they are able,
leaves a dish, has a plate of whatever looks good, & leaves.
I might come outside & check in for a bit,
make sure no one has knocked over the port-a-potty,
& refill the bucket-o-ice, but since it’s casual & laid back…
I’m going back inside where there’s air conditioning!”
I’m sure this didn’t change anyone’s mind. It certainly didn’t garner a response, at any rate. Should I cry foul because the personal interaction was missing? Seriously — if you are going to harp on about what it means to be involved with your readers, should you not then in turn respond to each and every comment? I know, I know. I’m being facetious now. But it does give one pause for thought.
Another example from Kristen’s blog, with my thoughts added here in (((parentheses))):
Kristen: Okay, but if you tweet and I respond, then no one is there, correct?
WOMAN: Uh, no. No one is there.
(((So, you are dictating that I may ONLY Tweet if I am prepared to respond immediately to any replies? I may ONLY Tweet per your rules?)))
Kristen: And I assume you tweet links to your blog and buy your books?
WOMAN: Yes. Yes, I do.
(((I don’t have books to sell, but I would Tweet them if I did. Along with all the other silly things I Tweet. And along with all the links of my fellow Triberr Tribemates.)))
Kristen: So you are automating links to read your blogs and buy your books, and the only way that works effectively is if I am actually present on Twitter so I can follow these links. Correct?
(((Right. You are free to check your Twitter feed at your own pace, and follow links if you wish. Otherwise, per your own rules, you’d better not be checking anything that was posted prior to your opening the Twitter app. that very moment.)))
Kristen: So basically you want something from me that you are unwilling to give. You are too busy and important to be on Twitter, whereas I have nothing better to do than to follow your links.
WOMAN: Oh, I see what you mean.
(((False. I’m giving you the same thing I’m asking for you. Time to do what we want at our own separate paces. Check in as you wish. Respond or not. Allow me the same courtesy.
(((I’m not “too busy and important to be on Twitter.” What I am is NOT on Twitter 24/7. Neither are you. And we don’t have to be.
(((The beauty of being online is that I can Tweet something at 2am, because I’m up, and you can see it when you get out of bed in the morning, if you are so inclined. Without being your family or friend, I can’t know what time that is. I can’t follow you around and wait for you to be available so that my Tweets ONLY hit your feed as YOU are ready for them to.)))
I think the belief that automated tweets are evil relies solely on the assumption that the evil-doer isn’t checking in on her own feed, isn’t responding to any personal mentions, isn’t engaging in dialogue at all, and ONLY sends out spammy links. But in that extreme case, the problem isn’t automation. The problem is that the user is a douchebag.
But even douchebags are free to use Twitter in as douchebag a fashion as they wish. There ARE no Twitter rules. Nobody gets to be in charge and decide that we must time our tweets around someone else’s schedule.