I had only been following for a couple of weeks before I had the misfortune of watching the trolls run “trent_reznor” away from Twitter. It’s sad, but sometimes people forget that it’s other people on the other side of the Internet (I think everyone does this to some extent — even I’m guilty to a small extent). It seems that “trent_reznor” was emotionally hurt by the whole experience. I think, though, when people open up their personal lives online they are setting themselves up for hurt and rejection by people who had imagined the real person to be much different. This is why I think celebrities should keep most of their private lives to themselves, because, in the in the end, what they say will only be treated like tabloid fodder. But it seems that was a risk “trent_reznor” took in order to try to feel close to his fans.
This bothered me somewhat, because I feel that anyone should be able to go out there on the Internet and engage with people. I think for renown people, followers get caught up with the celebrity’s name, hence why it’s best for all to hide behind an avatar. Hiding behind an avatar is a way to fit in because it levels the playing field. This way renown people can infiltrate whatever community they are interested in and have a more authentic conversation and perhaps makes some close online friends. As for “fan service” — well, that is part of the marketing machine and it needs to be done. I think celebrities have accept along with fans, they, also, have the focus of a small group of haters and crazy people. Haters and crazy people can’t be transformed outside of themselves to rational people, so it’s best not to worry about them and keep tight security to keep the violent ones away. But I don’t fault Twitter for this, because haters and crazy people will always find some way to vent. The Internet, though, makes it much easier to be heard by a large audience and possibly the celebrity.
Now addressing the technology: Twitter is lightly regulated free-for-all. Twitter tried to make it such that only followers could send replies, but people balked at that. There are no readily available filters, rather if someone wanted to filter the stream of Tweets coming at them, they have to pull their own feeds and apply an external filter. It seems to me there is plenty of opportunity for Twitter to develop some tools to help people make sense of their Tweets for a fee.
All-in-all, I feel bad that “trent-reznor” is leaving Twitter. I’m not the kind of person who cares deeply about the lives of celebs, but I like the person “trent-reznor” showed his fans. And, though, 90% of his Tweets were pointless, they did provide passing entertainment for me. I follow people on Twitter because they have some important information, like news headlines, or because I find their pointless Tweets entertaining. It lets me know I’m not alone in my small existence and there are others out there who enjoy small everyday things, even “trent_reznor.” Twitter doesn’t have to be about anything, though, it can be powerful when used for a purpose. I firmly believe people should Tweet and Blog for themselves. 100% of my my Tweets and 100% of what I write in this blog are me pointlessly rambling my opinion. It is for me and I put it out there for me, kinda like that “Kilroy” guy — I was here. If people read it and want to communicate with me, then that’s the icing on the cake :).
Addendum: Looks like “trent_reznor” is waiting for Twitter to improve blocking. Agreed. Twitter needs more improvements than that, though. Twitter also has horrific spam and lolita problems.
Addendum 2: Looks like “trent_reznor” is back. Hahaha!!! Hopefully he’s Tweeting for himself and not worrying about the trolls ;). I get the feeling this may be a cyclical thing with him :). Well, to each his or her own. Tweet on man, tweet on … It’s still very interesting to observe.
Addendum 3: “trent_reznor” blew away his Twitter account today. Hahaha! I would too! Having 600,000+ followers is just too many to be useful and enjoyable. Well hopefully he comes back under a different alias, so he can enjoy Twitter without the burden of being “Trent Reznor.”
Addendum 4 (10/20/2009): “trent_reznor” is back on Twitter again. It looks like he’s promoting the 20th anniversary of the “Pretty Hate Machine” album. I wonder whether this is just a “peek-a-boo” or whether he gonna be around on Twitter for a while.