deus ex macchiato

Fabian Bazant-Hegemark's blog

A brief run-in with Twitter

I won't lie. Deleting my facebook account wasn't all that easy. At first, I really enjoyed the zen-like silence that came with not reading all that crap, but eventually I began to miss the buzz. I knew I wasn't really interacting with it, I had realized that I wasn't the addressee but the product created to be sold, and hey, I had experienced going vegan, so this had to be a piece of spelt flour carrot cake, stop bitching.

But Facebook does something, it gives you the illusion of being heard, and it gives you the illusion of having a voice. It isn't more of a voice than when you write something on a piece of paper and throw it in the bin, with the odd exception of mere chance reactions.

Like a slot machine, every so often you do get some sort of quality feedback on what you throw in the feed, and like the pigeon and the switch, this is enough for at least my brain to keep pushing the lever.

Thing is: There's a reason this works. The reason is that we long for reaction. We require not only meaning in our lives and actions, but we also want this meaning to … mean something. And what better meter for that than having a genuine reaction that gives you the feeling of having been understood: or that someone at least tries to understand what you blabbed out half drunk.

I believe that this is why social media works. We all have our stories to tell, and far too few people who will listen to them. Facebook is a commercial enterprise to harvest this energy and export it to the realm of capitalist venture. It hollows out our exclamations, our stories, our views, and monetizes them. In return you get the feedback that your psyche craves.

So: Ditch Facebook, regain the right to tell your stories to fellow drunk people at bars.

But there's problems with that: Facebook evolved. It metastasized into our communication, our information networks, our private lives. It is not so easy to cut the growth out, without influencing all of the above. The putrid piece of shit clings desperately to our souls. It uses WhatsApp to steal the data from our phones, lying to us in the process, making false claims of technical needs normal smart phones won't even allow you to disprove or prevent, it uses Instagram to check out your cleavage and fetishes, and it does all of this with the same promise of recognition and feedback that it sometimes even fulfills.

So there you have it, another rant on Facebook. Wait, what was the subject?

The real need to receive feedback is one that is very welcome in the web. The web is all about communication, as far as I am concerned, and as it develops, it will have to emulate more and more of the communication we have grown fond of in the last couple of millennia. Like privacy and secrecy, we still have to work on that.

There was a nice thing in the early days that still exists in parts today, and that is internet forums. There is even forums so large that you have different subforums and categories where you can exchange ideas and have sometimes meaningful conversations with people normal life would prevent or even prohibit you from interacting with. People who live on the other side of the planet, in different time zones, with slower internet connections, people who can not hear or see, but can interface a computer.

This is a lot more tedious, because you don't immediately get the impression of responses. You don't receive a meaningless thumbs-up or "read"-receipt. But eventually, you might receive an answer.

Of course, this also works on Facebook, but I believe there is a fundamental flaw in cultivating this instant gratification reflex that Facebook does so well, and Google failed to copy in their desperate bullshit attempt to be as shitty as Facebook. (We'll get to what a huge piece of shit Google is for their own reasons another time, I'm sure. They just don't matter in the field I'm describing here). If you have opinions, instant gratification gives you the illusion of being approved of. When I give you a thumbs up for something you say, it might be for a lot of reasons. Maybe I am happy that you are healthy enough to write a complete sentence. Maybe I am happy that you wrote such utter bullshit that you will start a shitstorm and I can watch you drown in it. Maybe I approve of the opinion you expressed – or maybe I approve of you having an opinion, even though I think it's shit.

My reaction doesn't tell you anything about my intent, until I take the time to communicate with you. But all that little smoke-thumb up your ass does is that it gives you the illusion of me caring. You have ample room to project my intention according to what you feel is the appropriate response to your message. This isn't communication, this is a filter bubble.

And now we get to the need to have our egos massaged. Because holy hell, don't we. So much so, that a couple of months ago I tried to get into Twitter.

Twitter has the great advantage of not being Facebook, and my hatred for Facebook somehow stopped before it reached Twitter. There is no good reason for that. Twitter is the same piece of shit that Facebook is, it is just less pretentious and it mostly just fucks around with journalists.

Again, you get the illusion of a level communication, as with Facebook. The difference is, that you don't even have the opportunity to explain ideas. You can just belch into the ether, and people belch back. You can of course connect several belches to a symphony of burps, and of course you can also have the odd actual conversation developing.

So, having the need to fill the void of instant gratification that was left by deleting my Facebook and Instagram accounts, I turned to Twitter. Luckily, that faded quickly. Because, in contrast to Facebook, in Twitter you can see how your messages are filtered out from the people you are trying to address. Every post has its own little statistics page, telling you how well your burp did so far, how many people burped back, et cetera.

This shows you, also, how many people actually got to see your Tweet. And that is reassuring: Fucking NO ONE sees your tweets, unless you already have a reputation in burping.

I had 50 odd followers on Twitter, and usually about 14 people even SAW my tweets. That means that on average, 36 people who actually subscribed to hearing me burp out, didn't even get to see the content I so carefully crafted.

This changed when you attached your messagelet to bigger messagelets of alpha-burps, whose current drags in up to a hundred views. Of course, view doesn't mean interaction or even reading. It just means it popped up on their screens at some point. Interaction rates were even lower, and, given that, like everyone, I was just sucking my own bubble's d*ck I can't blame them. So, ultimately, I decided that this isn't the way either.

And this is, in a nutshell, why Facebook should be annihilated, and why you won't find me on Twitter soon. At the moment you still do, because the "delete your account" message is so threatening that I am afraid to click the button.

The last one is in German and a real head scratcher. Were the journalists just being c*nts? Did they feel the Austrian public needs to understand what being not-heterosexual means before they could vote for someone and felt their work was an effort in bridgebuilding? Kudos to Ulrike Lunacek for remaining calm and answering the questions as if they had been asked in respect and willingness to understand the foreign and strange ways of the people of Lesbiania.