Twitter’s recent travails in the market have created a very strange sensation in me- for once I actually like the company.
Though I’m a marketer, I don’t really use Twitter. I tried once- years ago- and found it to be too distracting. I also succumbed to the problem of Tweeting and “responding” for the sake of doing it. I realized that my own mind was not particularly wired to play the 140 character game.
Other things happened to further my dislike for Twitter. One was the arrogance of Twitter spokespeople who always seemed to imply that their company and its product had a liberatory effect on humankind. Though they didn’t write or even likely know about the thousands of book and articles extolling the age of democracy-and-justice-by-Twitter, they did very little to avoid the Silicon Valley bloviation and hype–the relentless and disingenuous technology positivism that lines already deep pockets while marketing itself as liberty, fraternity, and equality wrapped up into one neat package.
No doubt some of my dislike stemmed not from political outrage but from my own inabilities, maybe even some jealousy of those who use this “medium” with skill.
No matter the reason, I simply disliked Twitter.
Much of what I thought hasn’t changed but I do find myself “worried” that the company might fail. And my reasons don’t stem from the fact that I’ll miss Twitter if they shutter the company; instead, I’m disappointed at the continued reticence of users to think they have any economic responsibility to maintain and nourish the platforms they seem to extol. If, after all, Twitter ushered in an era of democracy then wouldn’t it be worth bailing the company out with a $10 check? And imagine if 400M Twitter users- or the millions of them who are reasonably high-income people—paid user fees…
Now, I’m not naïve. I understand that much of the Valley’s “Innovation” is publicly subsidized while the spoils go to into private hands. I also understand that users do in fact “pay” via information, data, curtailments in privacy, and with the increasing time it takes nowadays to find any sensible, intelligent, and reasonable content on the web. But I continue to be curious and annoyed at users’ lack of desire to part with money for content and useful services. After all, if indeed we all spent money on these things, we’d have much less crap on the Web and we’d have services that don’t rely on subtle and unsubtle intrusions to make money.
While tech companies have their own pathologies and greed, so it seems do users. And the irony is that in being so myopic, we’ve helped create an insanely hard to navigate web that often hurts more than it helps.
So yeah I’m a bit frustrated at the Twitter stuff and at our collective inability to change our digital commons for the better.
Romi Mahajan is the founder of KKM Group a marketing firm, an author, an investor, and an activist. His career is a storied one, including spending 9 years at Microsoft and being the first CMO of Ascentium, an award-winning digital agency. Romi has also authored two books on marketing- the latest one can be found here . A prolific writer and speaker, Mahajan lives in Bellevue, WA, with his wife and two kids. Mahajan graduated from the University of California at Berkeley, at the age of 19. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org