Let me start with this disclaimer--I do not follow Shoq, Simon, or Karoli. Based on what some of Twitter pals have told me, dissension has broken out between their factions over who turned the Connect the Left (CTL) twitter account to Unite Blue (UB). I don't care about that. In fact, I don't care how Unite Blue took control of the Connect the Left Twitter account. What concerns me is that UB did take take over the CTL. On February 6th, I blogged about my concerns about Unite Blue. I still have those concerns and more. Since I wrote that blog, I've taken a hiatus from Twitter.
I love Twitter. I have made some wonderful and lasting friendships there. Although I first got on because I'm a political junkie, I enjoy the nonpolitical chit chat as much as the political discussion. I have access to many interesting links and thoughtful blog posts by @smartypants32, @D_V_E, and @root_e to name just a few of my favorites. Twitter also brings a social life right into my home, which is what I like the best.
I am a month from being 65, disabled because of severe arthritis, and degenerative spinal disease which leave me in chronic pain. There isn't an hour that goes by that I'm not in pain; therefore, I am stuck at home most of the day. I don't want anyone's sympathy because I have a wonderful life in spite of that. What I am trying to convey is how important Twitter is to me because I'm not very mobile. On Twitter I can talk politics, mindlessly chit chat with friends, crack a few jokes, even whine and most importantly, I can forget about the pain.
Once you understand my relationship with Twitter, maybe you'll understand how difficult it was for me to leave. Some of my tweeps told me to ignore Unite Blue, and others told me to unfollow or block UB members. Both are difficult for me to do. I have a lot of longtime followers who are now UB members, and when at least every other tweet has to do with UB or has so many hashtags that take up half the 140 characters, those tweets are difficult to ignore. Nor do I want to unfollow tweeps whom I've followed and who have followed me for 2-3 years. I keep hoping they'll come to their senses soon.
I decided to take a break from Twitter. I don't how long I'll be gone--maybe I'll be on tomorrow, next week, or even next month. But as long as these four conditions exist in my time line, I'll be on hiatus.
Cultish behavior of members: The other morning when I got on Twitter, I saw many disturbing tweets that suggested folks go through their followers and drop anyone not following UB to make room for UB members. Sadly, many of the tweeps who were unfollowed have thousands and thousands of tweets while many UB members I've seen have less than a thousand tweets. UB is clearly about quantity, not quality. For many, loyalty to UB has become more important than loyalty to liberal causes or values or even longtime followers. Many tweets contain gushing endorsements of UB, proclaiming that Unite Blue has changed their lives or that UB is the most important thing that has happened to them. Other tweets brag about UB ratings, whatever that means. Although these tweets irritate me, I don't want to unfollow longtime tweeps. I just want them to get a grip.
Divisive: Since I first blogged about UB, I've received many DMs from tweeps expressing concerns about UB, but, fearful they themselves might be spam blocked by members, they are unwilling to speak out. Several of us who have done nothing more than ask legitimate questions, questions everyone should be asking, have been demonized by some UB members. In fact, I see more loyalty to UB by some than to the Democratic Party and/or liberal causes. Unite Blue? How about Divide Blue?
Fear-based: I think the TGDN (Twitter Gulag Defense Network) threat has been highly exaggerated. I have seen one follower spam blocked and others have told me that maybe one or two of their followers have had their accounts suspended, for which there could be a variety of reasons. This frenzy of fear reminds me of the way Bush's Homeland Security kept anxiety levels high by using the the color-coded terrorist alert.
Inorganic: Unite Blue was not a spontaneous, organic movement. It was started by a Twitter consulting company. It wasn't started from scratch; it co-opted an already existing Twitter account.
Zach Green or @140elect stole my playground. He turned my TL into something unrecognizable--a nonstop stream of praise for Unite Blue, UB hashtags and knee jerk reactions to fear of TGDN. I'll unite behind the Democratic Party, fellow liberals, and most certainly behind Barack Obama, but I don't see where Zach Green shares my loyalties. I don't want to be part of the Green Gang on twitter, and I want them to get off my playground. I miss my "old" buddies, and I want them back, not the zombiefied UB followers I see now. (Follow up post. Rebuttal of the Rebuttal: Say What, Zach?)