Last week was Twitter week on CNET UK -- a seven-day period where we bathed ourselves and our readers in the phenomenon that is microblogging. The aim, I'm told, was to tell users everything they need to know about the service so they can become 'experts'. But experts in what, exactly? Wasting your life away? Idiotic blathering?
I'm not averse to, so I've spent the last couple of weeks using Twitter to understand it better -- and you know what? I still think it sucks, so how about I present the other side of the argument -- that Twitter is a pointless waste of time inhabited by even more useless users. Yes, I'm probably talking about you.
1. Who cares?
Twitter might be a great way of communicating with people, but what use is that when most of its content is completely redundant? Here are some genuine tweets I received over the last few minutes:
"Now know why Parcelforce is going down the pan!"
"Caramel-flavoured early start to the day"
"Wondering what to replace cheese with?!"
Honestly, it's like I've signed up to an RSS feed to the most mundane aspects of people's lives.
2. Too many stalkers
Within a couple of days of joining Twitter, I'd amassed over 100 followers. The scary part is that I only actually knew who eight of these people were. That means around 92 per cent of my followers were complete strangers, and around 50 per cent of those hadn't bothered filling out a profile to help me deduce who they might actually be. Having them follow me is the tech equivalent of having someone read a newspaper over my shoulder, only it's worse, because the words aren't written by some random stranger -- they're coming from my own brain.
3. Most Twitter users are disturbed
I find myself fascinating, but the reality is that I'm not, and neither are you. So with that in mind, why are some people creating Twitter accounts for their pets? Worst still, why are people creating Twitter accounts for the liver of another human being whom they've never met? Seriously, some people really should get out more.
4. It's mostly spam
When Twitter was launched, it was a communication tool that asked a simple question: 'What are you doing?' Nowadays, it's overrun by companies preaching their message and flogging their wares. That's not social networking, that's spam. If companies think I'm going to subscribe to 140-character versions of their press releases when I've already got , they've got another thing coming.
5. It's eating your brain
Finally, Twitter is fast becoming the tech equivalent of a tabloid newspaper or celebrity gossip rag. There's no harm in that, people can read what they like. The problem is that genuinely intelligent friends of mine -- people who scoff at OK!, Hello! and any other publication whose title ends in an exclamation mark -- have begun , as if it's somehow different to following their antics in the gossip pages.
Let me tell you something: retweeting the fact that Stephen Fry tweeted his way out of a stuck lift is basically the equivalent of texting everyone in your phone book that Britney was spotted getting out of a car wearing no underwear. The fact you did it over TweetDeck just makes you a voyeur and a geek.
I have no doubt Twitter will be something special in the future. Maybe one day, when we're all wirelessly connected to each others' brains, it'll be the best thing ever. But in the meantime, let's not lose track of its limitations. Let's also discover some etiquette and try not to ruin it before it becomes something half decent.