I’m a “Survivor” addict. I love the show. I love the strategy, the characters (loving to hate and hating to love), I love the comfortable place that is JPro’s Southern drawl and unflagging rhetoric. But I know if I were ever a contestant on “Survivor”, I would, with disappointing certainty, be the first person (or even worse, the second) to be voted out. Guaranteed.
People get on Twitter to connect, but I’ve seen it happen where people end up feeling radically disconnected instead. Twitter is the social media equivalent of “Survivor” – an intriguing microcosm of society where one is thrust into a random “tribe” of followers, a tribe you ostensibly “belong” to and seek to make alliances within, but the politics within the tribe can sometimes be tricky:
- It’s a social game. On Twitter, just like “Survivor”, you are meant to engage and be entertained in real time. But engaging can trip you up if you think about what’s going on too much. Twitter may be a social game, but if you are the kind of person to have a continuous raging internal dialogue, the interpersonal politics could eat you alive. But if you don’t treat Twitter/”Survivor” as a social game and acknowledge the critical nature of making friends (I’m looking at you, Russell Hantz, although I really would prefer not to), you will NEVER win that million bucks. And you will probably piss off a nation of people.
- There are alliances within the tribe and like any good alliance, there is an outsider. Or outsiders. I’m not writing this purely from the perspective of someone who has felt like a Twitter outsider, but also as someone who has been the offender. There are times when I accidentally stumble onto a fragmented Twitter exchange and wonder if I’ve stumbled onto a group who is talking about who to vote out; “Um yeah, hi. I have something incredibly interesting to say. Include me. Pick meeeeeeeee. Don’t vote me out. We can go to Final 3″. The exchange is clearly not directed at me, but I’m reading it, tweavesdropping if you will. It’s weird. Like “Survivor” pixellating bum crack during muddy challenges. You know it’s there and you can kinda see it, but you know you’re really not supposed to.
- You can be whoever you want to be. You can make up stories about your grandmother dying to get sympathy votes (why you would want to I’m not entirely sure), you can pretend not to be an ex-Mickey Mouse Clubber but to a less dramatic extent you can present whatever persona you want to get you further in the game.
- You can find real love and friendships on Twitter/”Survivor”. And Love and Friendship are better than a million bucks. Aren’t they? AREN’T THEY? If you are Rob and Amber, you can even have both and turn yourself into a million dollar reality game mega-juggernaut.
- You always have your family to go home to at the end of it. Some days I launch Twitter and find myself getting twisted up in knots, trying to ascertain the big players, the smaller players with interesting things to say, trying to work out who is with who, who knows each other in real life, who is doing what with who. It’s how my mind works – it’s always looking for patterns, for associations, for the big picture. Then I take a deep breath and realise that whilst Twitter can be a remarkable tool for connecting (including in real life), I have friends outside this hotbed of fragmented conversations with people I may or may not connect with when Twitter connections spill out into the real world.
Twitter IS a Social Game and one I enjoy a lot of the time. Most of us want to engage with other like minded dudes. In real time. We like to discuss the spunk merit of redheads. We like to vent about the shitty day we are having. We like to get people excited about our philanthropic causes. We like to talk about touching our panties when watching “Homeland” (you know, the important stuff). We can filter the people who see our feeds to an extent, but there are tribe politics, that much is undeniable. I don’t know how people who follow thousands of people keep up. So many tribes, so much information. A Brain Fry waiting to happen.
Tribal Council on crack.