I’ve been on Twitter since election night 2008. I wasn’t the earliest adopter by any means, but it has consistently been my favorite social network. It’s where I get most of my news, and I’ve made some friends on Twitter who became “real-life friends.” In short, I’m a huge fan of Twitter.
When I was in high school, I was pretty awkward and quiet. (Still am.) And not in the way that someone like Taylor Swift says she’s awkward and quiet – I actually was (…am). Especially my junior year. My family had just moved to another state, and I didn’t know anyone at my school. Since I didn’t dare actually approach people who I thought would be interesting, I took a more subtle method of making friends: I wore Weezer shirts almost every day. I had four of them. (On the fifth day of the school week, I alternated between Dashboard Confessional and Emily). It’s a known fact that people who like Weezer (or at least, people who liked Weezer circa 1999-2006) are generally really awesome. Chances are, they’ll like other similar bands, and their common interests expand beyond that into books and TV shows as well. I had been to a few concerts, and had confirmed that these were my people. So my logic was pretty sound for a 17 year old, even though I was that weird kid who only seemed to have 5 shirts (and one pair of beat-up Chuck Taylors with a =W= drawn on the toes). I eventually met the three other people in my school who had good taste in music, and even ended up dating one of them. But that wasn’t enough of an outlet for me. So I turned to the internet.
This was before Facebook, Myspace, and most other social media. We had Livejournal. We had AIM. And we had forums. I wanted to meet more =W= army members like me, so I found the official Weezer forums. And they were fun. I made anonymous online friends in a way that’s comparable to what happens on Twitter today. We talked about the band, analyzed cryptic lyrics, and compared setlists from shows. But there was another board as part of this forum – AllThingsNotWeezer. Here, people talked about everything. And it proved my theory was right: these people were cool, and I wanted to be friends with them.
Then, the band’s label (or Karl. I don’t know…) changed the format of their forums on their site. In recent years, we’ve all seen how people react when any popular site makes a change that affects usability (hint: they don’t like it). This amazing online place had become something different, something unwanted. There wasn’t a place to talk about what we wanted to talk about. There were new moderators who kept trying to bring the conversation back to the band. The old forums had been hosted by a certain company (I don’t remember which one. It’s not important). We didn’t have anywhere else online to unite against this. We couldn’t complain about it on a Facebook group or with a Twitter hashtag – they didn’t exist.
So something incredible happened. One of the (original) moderators did some digging online and found out the company that had hosted our old forums. Then they found out some other sites that used that same company. With one post on the old (newly-awful) forums, we were given our marching orders, and we were forceful.
We invaded the Vanessa Carlton forums.
(Remember her? She sang that “A Thousand Miles” song that had a lot of piano in it in 2001. Incidentally, her forums were less active than ours, despite her constant radio airplay from 2001-2002.) None of us really liked or disliked Vanessa Carlton. We just wanted her forums. So we all just started and continued our Weezer (and not Weezer) conversations in their space. Her fans didn’t know what hit them. They were (rightfully) totally confused about this sudden massive influx of hundreds of new members, and they didn’t want us there. But there were more of us, and we held our ground. Even though our own social network had failed us, we persevered, and we got what we wanted. There was a fuzzy time for a few years (I don’t remember what we did, but we didn’t stay on the Vanessa boards for more than a year or so). Eventually, a moderator created new boards for us, and that’s where the REAL fans existed. I was involved with Weezer Nation forums well throughout college (yes, even after Facebook started). That was the first time I experienced the true power of online community, of people taking a stand against changes a site made so that they could interact with each other in the way they wanted to.
Today, I went to an email conference. I didn’t have a computer with me, so I was on my phone all day. Tweeting tidbits from speakers (as marketers do…) all day long. I spent a lot of time switching between my personal Twitter handle and @EmailSnarketing handle. On my phone, that meant logging out of the app and then logging back in. A lot. All day long. And if you’ve done this in the past day, I bet you know what I’m about to complain about: Twitter seems to keep forgetting who I am. It’s asking me if I want “More World Cup Excitement?!?!” (nope.) The “no” option says “No, just get me started on Twitter.”
WHAT?!?!?! I DON’T NEED TO GET STARTED, I NEED TO EFFING TWEET.
Then it asked me to write my profile (which, you know, is already written). THEN they have the audacity to try to make me automatically follow 20 people who will be tweeting about the World Cup.
NO MEANS NO, TWITTER.
(Whew, there’s a skip button here. Okay, Click.)
Then it tries to import my contacts from my email/phone. NO. (But oh, hey, my stepsister’s on Twitter now…And so are a bunch of people I already unfollowed 4 years ago because they never tweeted.) SKIP.
THEN it finally gets me into the normal app. I could almost understand it if this happened once for everyone while Twitter tries out a new marketing technique (you know, annoying and confusing people into doing what you want them to do.). But I have a feeling it’ll continue through the entire World Cup. And I have absolutely no idea how long that is. Is it a weekend? A month? Couldn’t tell you. I’m not following the World Cup on Twitter, after all. And if it goes well for Twitter, I’m sure they’ll do this for other things.
And as much as I love Twitter, it makes me want to gather my tribe of followers and people I follow, and find a social network that is the Vanessa Carlton to Twitter’s Weezer.
….See you on Google Plus.
(Also – Happy Birthday, Rivers).