Twitter’s Imaginary Cliques

Recently I’ve heard rumblings around the Blogosphere and the Twitterverse that “cliques” are forming on Twitter. Cliques that are intentionally excluding people from conversations, cliques who are self-interested, existing only to promote their latest book or seminar, or just trying to be the most popular. I know the self-interested promoters exist. I unfollow them all the time.

But, I have a problem with people throwing around words like “cliques” when it comes to Twitter, and other social networks, and here’s why:

1) Communities are like that. I follow some 700 people. When I decide to spend some time hanging out on Twitter, I probably scan tweets from 50 to 100 people. Of those 50 to 100, I probably follow conversations of about 10. Of those 10, I probably get into conversations with about 3. Typically, I have about 20 or so people I converse with regularly on Twitter. Does that make me cliquey? No. It makes me part of a community. I couldn’t possibly have conversations with everyone I meet on the street in my neighbourhood every day. I simply don’t have the time. So I centre out those people who share common interests, a common sense of humour, etc. And I engage them. I’m not out to exclude anyone, I’m trying to be practical about my interactions. And so are most Twitterfolk.

2) Some of these people are friends. I have several people on Twitter that I consider friends. Many of those friends I have met in person, spent time with. Others I haven’t met yet, but for whatever reason we have connected online. It stands to reason that friends will talk with friends. They are not trying to be exclusive of others, they are just being friends.

3) Jealousy will get you nowhere. It seems that most of the “clique” accusations are aimed at the celeb bloggers. Someone sent a Tweet to Robert Scoble and he didn’t write back right away? Oh, he must be a snob. He must be in a clique. I’m serious, these are the things I’m reading sometimes. Here’s the unique thing about the social media celeb phenomenon. The famous people are part of our community. It’s like we all show up at the same nightclub, and they are in the room with us. But you know what? They are there to have a good time with THEIR friends, too. So if they don’t run over and talk to YOU, don’t take it personally. Make a nice comment if you want (as long as you are sincere). But don’t expect Mr. or Ms. Celeb Blogger to come rushing over to give you a big hug and be your best friend. Like you, they have other things to do. Move on and make your own communities. I find that just about everyone is as interesting as Mr. Popular.

I do believe that Twitter’s “cliques” are imaginary. In my social network interactions, I find overwhelmingly that people are open, sincere, helpful and just plain nice. And the ones that aren’t those things – they aren’t worth my time.

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5 Responses

  1. Wow, really? Cliques?

    Oh, gee.

    I follow about 550, but am followed by 1100. I sometimes never respond, but I try, I really try.

    Thanks for bringing the ugly gossip into the light for what it is- garbage.

    xoxo, Alli

  2. Actually, I totally disagree. 🙂 There are absolutely cliques. There are cliques on twitter and in the blogosphere and pretty much everywhere. And here’s the thing: We should cheer the cliques. They’re there and they’re awesome and they are what make blogs and twitter and whatever the hell else successful. It sucks when people feel excluded of course, but it is what it is.

    I’ve had a blog post about this brewing for ages, I should probably just write it already.

  3. Who is this Robert Scoble and will he be my bestest friend ever????

    Seriously, the reason I don’t care about who follows me anywhere online whether it be my blog (strangeaddiction.com) or on twitter (twitter.com/Stacerella). I could care less. If you want to read my blog, read it. If you want to talk to me (strangeaddiction.com), leave comments(strangeaddiction.com). If you want to follow my retarded thoughts all day long, stalk me on twitter (twitter.com/Stacerella).

    I have always heard about these mythological “cliques” on and offline all of my life. I don’t concern myself with them. If any of those members wants to talk to me, I’ll talk to them. I don’t pay attention or concern myself, nor do I twist myself into a prezzle to impress anyone. I have famous relatives. Fame doesn’t impress me. It’s an illusion, foisted upon people by the very people who are trying to get into so called cliques but aren’t successful.

    The only people talking about cliques are the asshats who can’t make friends or be nice to strangers in their every day life, so why do they feel it would be different for them online?? Dumb-asses.

  4. I think that a lot of people try to follow the Robert Scoble’s of the internet world and then get all bothered and bewildered when they don’t get a reply. I can’t keep up with everyone that I follow and I follow less than 200 people (ditto for the number that follow me). There are people that I talk to more than others because, like you said, I know them. I have history with them. And yes, I have inside jokes with them. It doesn’t make us a clique, it makes us friends.

    Of course there are cliques online – even the most open online community will look like a clique to people who aren’t part of it. I also believe that some interact in more positive ways to others then some do. I’ve seen some nasty interactions on twitter but that’s definitely a rare incident.

    Sometimes people need to check their expectations at the door. Not everyone will respond when you @ them or follow them. It doesn’t mean that they don’t like you or that they are ignoring you. Sometimes they are just plain busy.

  5. Love this post too!

    Twitter isn’t as well known here in Australia yet so I wish I could say I know most of my followers but I don’t. I know my husband, brother and sister-in-law. But the others (only 30 or so) I’m happy to have on board and I welcome anyone else who wants to follow me. The old saying “two heads are better than one” is most evident when a resource like Twitter is available to us.. The information that has been passed on, the contacts that can be made for business or social interaction are all so amazing. Remember, you get what you expect, I expect fun, knowledge, friends and more of all of these to come… and that’s exactly what I’m getting!

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