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The Zen of Twitter’s Retweet Feature

The Meme Ocean and the Art of Zen Retweeting

The Zen of the Twitter Retweet Feature

Today, I get to play Devil’s Advocate. Today the quite brilliant, smashing, blunt, and brazen ladies of Outspoken Media declared “the suck” on Twitter’s new RT feature. After reading it, I don’t disagree with it in principal. It would definitely suck to have a great night of good times, think you went to bed alone, and wake up next to some chico/chica.

But, now with the ass-kissing and link-dropping out of the way, let’s move into the position. While the new Retweet feature can be a bit invasive, it’s only because we all see ourselves as a “stream” of meme. That this stream, like other tributaries, are encapsulated and flow into a larger system.

While this is not entirely incorrect, it’s conceptual and subjective stance to see yourself as a stream. One could choose to think of themselves as a meme ocean. After all, what are tweets but 140 character memes dispersed in a finite system, connected to other finite systems.

The true genius behind the RT feature is that it tries to capture this Ocean Meme subjectivity. With Traditional RT’ing, you can stretch a meme only so far. Now the entirety of Twitter is an ocean. It’s a movement away from the individualized stream into an almost super-conscious of meme threads and Zen Retweeting.  But this only a surface level issue, and a little philosophical to explore without another post. So let’s leave it at that.

The Point / Counterpoint:

However, I still have followers who will try out the new way and insert possible muggers, thieves and puppy killers into my stream. Twitter has now left me in a really uncomfortable position – let the strangers in and give up the sanctity of my network or block retweets from people in my network. I don’t like how that feels. I don’t like any of this.

I think that’s a little bit of an exaggeration. And truthfully, I don’t like it either. However, I do like the fact that my ego-driven meme can be spread even farther now, reaching people it might not normally ever run across. As for the “strangers in your stream”, I tend to think it’s a good. If Twitter is to really be a community, the new RT functionality is certainly fostering that idea. Of course you’re going to get a fair share of worthlessness. Everyone’s going to get spammed, and get “weird faces”, but you’ve got to look past that.

The New RT: Death of Niche Communities

The great part about this is discovering those who you never would have discovered otherwise. The 3rd and 4th level connected followers. I admit, the odds definitely don’t favor it, but there’s always a diamond in the rough. This RT functionality does a lot to lift the veil on “niche communities” (i.e. the SEM community, the Celebrity community, or the Tech community). Straying into philosophical territory again, the new RT helps to show the inter-connectivity of system, the entire “no wo/man is an island” concept.

And, for a conflict-theorist subscriber, I always up for tearing down power-structures and leveling the playing field.  Get ready for it: I’m about to call a spade a spade. The only people really, really, bitching about this new functionality are superstars of the Twitter community. Those with a relatively large following are obviously protective of their stream and followers. I don’t think this is Twitter’s way to spread the power equally, but it’s certainly to get some exposure to those just engaging the space.  And, after all, isn’t that what each of us begs of followers (and ourselves): we care less about how you use the space, but that you engage it genuinely. This is a chance, an opportunity, to allow people to do that.

At the end of day, I’m on the side of giving Twitter a “Commendable Effort” award to help along the system as a whole get “more connected” and loosen the grip of niche-power-holdings within communities. You don’t have to use it, but open yourselves up to the possibility that you may find some great folks out there who can provide insight,  reliable, and trustworthy information (even if they are strangers to your ocean memes).


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