My Newfound Paranoia Regarding DMs on Twitter
Actually, “paranoia” might be too strong a word (“might be”) but there is definitely concern when it comes to the DMs – or, Direct Messages – aspect of this medium.
Yet, the concern is not for what would seem the obvious reasons; spam and the many automated DM welcomes from those I have newly-followed. Both of the afore-mentioned deserve a huge “yuck”…spam, for being what it is, and automated direct message welcomes for being what they are not; i.e., any value to the recipient. In fact, in my opinion, they are of negative value.
My opinion is that, at best these welcomes/thanks hold no value at all. I mean, c’mon; an “automated” thank you for the follow? No value, folks. At worst, they are a huge pain because they overstuff the other’s DM stream, causing them to miss the legitimate direct messages they’ve received from a real, live person who wants to communicate with them one-on-one instead of publicly (via the “@”).
Plus, they more often transcend a generic, no-value thank you and, much worse, are simply “I-focused” solicitations, asking someone who doesn’t even yet know you (never-mind “know, like and trust” you) to take action perceived as benefitting you, the messenger. I’d personally like to see some extreme “social pressure” exerted by the “Twitterverse” to discourage people from doing this.
Again, however, while all this makes my usually very enjoyable Twitter experience just a bit less-so, it’s not the cause of my concern.
The concern is that I am apparently hurting some people’s feelings through DMing them.
“But, Burg” you exclaim with surprise (you do exclaim, and with surprise, don’t you?”) … you wouldn’t say anything hurtful to anyone, would you?
No. Not purposely, anyway. However, over the past couple of months I’ve received DMs from two Twitter friends – friends for whom I care very much – that basically said the following (in fact, this is pretty much word-for-word, from both!):
“Bob, when I retweet you, you only thank me through DMs while you thank everyone else (my emphasis) publicly. I feel like a girlfriend you’re ashamed of; afraid to be seen in public with.”
Ouch. Now, while these both were women, I have a feeling it’s not a male/female or female/male thing. The more I think of it, it’s simply a “human” thing; feeling as though one is not valued, and based on limited knowledge of another. And that if those two expressed it, others feel that way, as well.
There a several challenges here:
#1 They are both incorrect. I value both of them very highly.
#2 Very rarely (very rarely) do I individually thank someone publicly (via the “@”) for a retweet. The reason is that – even with just 11000 followers* – I’m fortunate to be retweeted a lot and I simply don’t want to fill up the “public” streams of those following me with a bunch of thanks. By the way, since they can only go by what they see, to them, the relatively few times I retweet publicly qualify as “everybody else.” Remember, as human beings we make definite decisions based on limited information.
#3 It’s my opinion – though perhaps not shared by others – that an individual DM is a much more personal way of expressing my gratitude.**
“Holy misinterpretation, Batman!”
So, now I’m not sure what to do. The purpose of this post is actually not to explain myself as much as getting some conversation going about this topic and learning what opinions you have about this.
I’ve noticed others of late; those who are known experts on Twitter (I’m pretty much a newbie here – I’ve only been tweeting steadily since early May) who are sharing with us their own concerns about this terrific medium, many different aspects of it; how they see it working best for everyone – including themselves – and expressing their opinions.
And, I’m enjoying learning from them. Immensely so! While I did provide several opinions above, I’m obviously not as qualified to speak on this topic with authority; I’ve still got much more to learn. However, I’d love to hear your opinions.
Today, let’s focus on the DM issue. What are your thoughts, opinions and suggestions based on the situation with my two friends mentioned above? Bueller? Anyone? Bueller?
*I use the words, “follow” and “follower” because that is what Twitter calls it and that is the term used by most of those utilizing Twitter. Personally, I prefer the term “connect”, i.e., “connect with me on Twitter” or “are you connected with me on Twitter?” However, “when it Rome…”
**I do realize that one reason people like to be thanked publicly (“@”) is because it alerts others that they retweet and can gain more “followers.” I have to weigh that against taking up space in others tweetstreams. And, I also realize that was not the cause of the two people I mentioned feeling insulted.