Twitter Is Broken
And you probably broke it.
I mean, I did too, so I’m not *blaming* you. It’s our fault, together, but it happened. At least, I think so.
Twitter isn’t literally broken. It works… but it doesn’t really, not in the way that it used to, not in the way that I enjoyed it when I joined some 6+ (maybe 7?) years ago.
When I was an undergraduate at Boston College, I discovered and loved Twitter. I was a blogger on the Italy WorldCupBlog (which, sadly, I don’t think exists anymore). I was beyond excited to combine my passion (football) and my major (English); I used to vigorously throw my studies into my writing, comparing Mario Balotelli to Jung’s archetypes (yes, I took Psych 101 that year, too). (I wonder if that was the year I fell in love with parenthetical citations).
((No, that came later)).
I soon realized that the other writers on WCB and The Offside were using Twitter, both to promote their content and to connect with their fans/readers. Back then, the landscape was entirely different. Social media is now full of various blogs and sites that constantly tweet out their content; in an ocean, each drop is indistinguishable. But Twitter then was a puddle, at least in the football world, and I wanted to be a noticeable drop.
So I began to tweet out the news, day by day, translating from Italian websites to English — a method that only worked because Italian websites hadn’t yet English versions, and few news aggregators existed. Day by day, my numbers grew (very, very slowly). More importantly (to me, anyway), I found a thriving, active community of fans — people who genuinely loved the sport. Who wanted to talk about it. Wanted to connect with others, offer insights, and willing to take others’ perspectives and insights.
Slowly, over time, that changed. I truly think it was the emphasis on the mercato (the trade window, for other languages/leagues), that fostered this, because people started to care about the next rather than the now. No one wanted to discuss why a loss happened; they looked forward to the next window to fix the problems or blamed the previous one for causing it. Instead of insight and discussion, anger and negativity arose; no longer thoughtful commentary, but snide remarks and dumb tweet just for the RTs and favs.
I was part of it, too. I’ve certainly had my fair share of negativity, and tweets I just put out for the sharing potential. But I always tried to be at least thoughtful and not so reactionary; I wanted to offer something unique and level-headed in an era and platform where knee-jerk is the easiest and most popular method of communicating.
(Here I have to give an enormous caveat; if the golden years of football twitter are indeed behind, at least part of it is probably due to the cynicism that’s developed because Serie A has become so predictable. It’s easier to be excited for Roma to win the league when Milan won it last year, and Juve this year for the first time since being promoted; it’s a lot harder after 5 (6, really) consecutive titles in a row, where the conclusion is foregone.)
And as I’ve gotten older, and has time has passed, I realized it’s just not what I enjoy anymore. I don’t love the club or the discussion any less; I just want to find a place to thoughtfully and interestingly do the latter about the former.
Twitter just isn’t that.