Well it’s done, Trent Reznor just deleted his Twitter account. He was one of the first to be harassed by puny users and other Twitterazzi types, and one of the first to leave ship.
From Rolling Stone: “When Twitter made it’s way to my radar I looked at it as a curiosity, then started experimenting. I thought it through and in light of where I was / am in my career I decided to lower the curtain a bit and let you see more of my personality,” Reznor said. “I watched some of you get more engaged because you started to realize there’s a person (flaws and all) back there, and I watched some of you recoil in horror because I’m not what you projected on me”.
I find this quite interesting. The other day I left some comment on Hypebot’s “Amanda ‘Fucking’ Palmer (Part 1) interview” (which is a must-read by the way). One commentator commented upon the fact that a seemingly indestructible platform such as Twitter clearly has a life expectancy. His arguments, some straightforward and simple deductions that go along the lines of “Twitter is new and fun for now, but the narcissistic social game it engages its community in will eventually get old”, got me thinking about the real impact Twitter has on most people, and if that “social game” is really worth the time spent perfecting the skills required to a “must-follow” type of user. And now there’s Mr. NIN, one of the most influential and “must-follow” accounts, that decides to bail. Although I believe he did so for personal reasons other than “Twitter is boring me”, Trent is also saying “Twitter ain’t for me, at least not anymore”. I think many will come to that realization at one point or another. Not every massively popular service is for everybody, and the more some play the game of opening-up-to-the-world, the more they might realize they just don’t like opening-up to the world.
All in all, Twitter can be seen as a sort of gratification game, or tool. I share my insights, my news, all the while shedding some light on my personality, and when I get that RT or that mention, I feel as if I made some impact, as if my presence on the Twittersphere ain’t useless and that some people out there appreciate it. And by Jove how it feels good to achieve that sense of accomplishment in this absurd world (even if it’s only due to words and not actions). Add to that the fact that Twitter is a powerful networking tool, and for me the game is still fun and exciting, as it is for an increasing number of people.
It seems to me that all the social-media success stories are due to specific traits of character. In that Amanda Palmer interview cited above, one particular sentence struck me as being very revealing: “I simply feel blessed that I’m an emotional exhibitionist right around the time is seems to be expected and en vogue.” Not everyone is like Amanda Fucking Palmer, or Trent, or others, weather they be exuberant social figures or more of the discreet kind.
I also want to quote what that commentator (know as “Old Recod Guy”) said on the interview: “Music, and art in general, is cyclical. Right now, most artists have to engage, have to get close to their fans. This is a new sensation for both sides, especially when it comes to bigger acts, for whom a one-to-one dialogue was never really practical. So fans and artists are learning where the boundaries are, what works and what doesn’t, and what the tolerance levels are on both sides.
Sometime in the future, people will get tired of this. They’ll become used to the interaction, the access, they’ll realize that not every artist has something interesting to say, they’ll suck all the ideas and news and gossip and photos and free downloads out of the trough until they want to puke. And that’s when some artist, or movement, will bring back that sense of mystery, that unattainability, and they’ll be huge. They’ll use the new tools to accomplish the task, but they won’t be Tweeting during their colon cleanse. They’ll rebel against the banal status quo, and legions of fans who are sick of it it too will follow them.
And that’s what’s great about art. The new burns down the old to be burnt down by the new, until we fondly remember the old and burn down the new.”
Since I feel incapable of finding a proper conclusion to this post, I will simply ask what you all think about this. Is Twitter popular for the simple reason that we live in a time where gratification and validation are important? Is Twitter working for music just because the former industry model is crumbling, and that Twitter’s direct-to-fan model appeared around the corner at the right time? Is indirect messaging a la Twitter truly to the new communication medium, or is it just a craze?