The Side Effect

Over the past two months, with the arrival of App.net, my social media usage has undergone a noticeable shift. Rather than pouring my inane thoughts and reflections into one digital funnel, Twitter, my attention has been divided. I no longer have the capability, nor the inclination, to mindlessly share my feelings at even the most anti-social and ill-fitting of times.

Instead, when something strikes me — something I typically would've tweeted without much further consideration — my mind now poses the question as to which social network I should share this thought with.

As an aside, I'm fully aware that App.net and Twitter are fundamentally different and that the two are vying for mutual exclusivity but, for now, the simple truth is that they are living in uncomfortable harmony on my Mac, iPhone, and iPad. Despite my keen desire for App.net to prevail over its competitor and, indeed, for it to grow into something altogether different for a new digital age, I'm not yet at a point of psychological comfort with the notion of Twitter abandonment.

Accordingly, I'm faced with an interesting side-effect — one that I'm actually quite pleased to endure. That is, despite the ubiquity of Twitter-enabled posting tools and capabilities, I no longer feel the beckoning of such thoughtless sharing. Despite the enabling draw of the Twitter echo-chamber, I'm now aware of the futility of such sharing.

As I instinctively reach for my phone and my thumb hovers over Netbot and Tweetbot, my decision increasingly defaults to "neither." Despite the endearing aesthetic similarities — and the psychological duping therein — I'm forced into a self-evaluation of what I once would've callously shared. Now, as I consider the separate audiences of Twitter and App.net and to whom my thoughts might appeal to the most, more often than not, I realize that the thought is altogether unworthy of sharing to either. That I'd be better off keeping my phone in my pocket and pressing on with engagements outside of the ephemera of Twitter and App.net.

One of the most endearing characteristics of App.net, in its current state, is the social network's propensity toward more mindful discussion. Allowing for lengthier thoughts to share with an audience primarily comprised of thoughtful geeks, App.net has — at least for me — slowed my typical desire to repeatedly re-visit and re-check my stream. I've grown increasingly conscious of the merit and value of my posts, rather than simply spewing lazy questions for others to unenthusiastically endure.

Given our collective distaste with Twitter's business decisions and our increasing cognizance of our digital reliance, I cannot help but think this might prove to be the most alluring element of the App.net environment. Rather than preying upon trending topics and reacting to live events, with App.net we might instead choose to reserve its usage for content and thought befitting of its clientele.

I'm unsure whether this side-effect is temporary or permanent, but I'm unequivocally pleased it's here at least for the time being. I have no desire to become a obnoxious over-sharer, I'd much rather occasionally write a quick thought that stokes some discussion. Whether I have the capability to be that person is yet to be seen, but I'm willing to try.

Reflexively reaching for a means to share inconsequential thoughts is an unhealthy and anti-social phenomenon and, despite its accessibility and lure, it should be treated with far more consideration and self-awareness than it is today. There's a fine line between truly interacting with people and just yelling loudly into a room filled with other people yelling loudly. In my eyes, Twitter seems to embody the latter, whilst App.net has the potential to enable the former. Perhaps we should embrace the "decision" side-effect, and bring that to fruition.

The Significance of Tweetbot for Mac

Twitter

Marco Arment:

But when Twitter bought Tweetie from Loren Brichter, I think it’s clear now that they only cared about the iPhone client. They’ve severely neglected the Mac and iPad clients, effectively killing some of the best Twitter apps ever made. (Given their updates to the iPhone version, maybe we’re better off.) Twitter for Mac in particular is in severe disrepair, with significant bugs going unfixed for over a year and major recent features still missing, such as native photo uploads. And now that Loren no longer works at Twitter, it looks like nobody there is willing and able to keep these apps healthy.

[…] I’m happy to report that Tweetbot for Mac serves the same role already, even in its incomplete, semi-buggy alpha state. (Anecdotally, it doesn’t seem significantly buggier than Twitter for Mac.)

Given Twitter’s evident desire to stem the usage of third party clients, Tweetbot for Mac certainly makes for a resounding point of pause.

The alpha release of the app, in many respects, reflects upon the increasingly hostile nature of the Twitter ecosystem. In hurriedly pushing the app to the masses, Tapbots not only addresses a desperately hungry crowd of Mac-toting Twitter users, but it also provides for a statement of utter poignancy toward Twitter.

Tweetbot for Mac serves as an apt reminder of the niche in which long-time Twitter users reside. Slighted by Twitter’s recent developmental endeavors, there is a significant portion of Twitter’s user-base that is utterly invested in the sustenance and maintenance of a good Twitter experience. Insofar as Tapbots’ fame largely results from its movements in the Twitter arena, Tweetbot for Mac — and the clamoring for even its alpha release — demonstrates the relevance and importance of this community.

Although I doubt Tweetbot for Mac will alter Twitter’s long-term plans for the platform in any manner, I tend to think that it may — at the very least — serve as a catalyst toward the improvement of the official Mac app. Considering the app has existed in veritably embarrassing disrepair for over a year, the raucous shouts of happiness for pre-release third party software should perhaps instill a sense of renewed urgency toward ensuring a sound unilateral platform experience.

Preaching for the seamless unification of Twitter is certainly an understandable endeavor, but such calls will fall upon deaf ears if Twitter makes no gestures toward its core, long-standing user-base — regardless of how much of a minority it might be.

Thus, regardless of the level of completion, Tweetbot for Mac already accomplishes a duty of the utmost importance and consequence: it reminds users of their relevance.