Twittering @hesgen – the first and last quarterly review

Francis Sedgemore, Thursday 21 February 2013 at 13:38 UTC

I joined Twitter in November of last year. Actually, I came into the social medium after long protesting that it is no more than celebrity-obsessed textual wank with a tendency to premature ejaculation. I finally succumbed on being persuaded by fellow journalists that in refusing to join Twitter I put myself at a competitive disadvantage as a freelance wordsmith.

My website traffic had been declining over the previous two years, with interweb pundits declaring that long-form blogging is a dying art. If one wishes to continue with this form of writing, they said, it is essential to promote blogging through Twitter.

For a time I was convinced by this self-justificatory argument. At first I thought that my blog posts were attracting attention from Twitter, but looking at the website access data I can see that the effect is statistically insignificant.

What is certainly significant is the amount of time I devote to Twitter. I have a mildly addictive personality, and so must monitor and restrict my online activities so as not to turn into a basket case. Even though I follow fewer than three score Twitterers, it is taking up time that I would rather spend reading books or conversing with the neighbour’s cat. Yesterday I sold my smartphone, and a weight considerably greater than that of the device immediately lifted from my shoulders.

My website traffic is pretty low, with a typical median of around a hundred unique visitors per day. A few years ago it was three times this level, but even now there are subjects about which I write that are guaranteed to result in huge spikes in my website access log. This is so whether or not I publish frequently. It is also clear that most of my website visitors come via search engines. Twitter is an irrelevance.

Yesterday’s piece on Ed Miliband is a case in point. Such posts typically attract many orders of magnitude more readers than do offhand wibblings and short satirical comments. The latter are more suited to Twitter, but unless one is a celebrity they are likely to remain largely unread.

This morning I tweeted a video clip of the Dishonourable George Galloway MP making an arse of himself. With Gorgeous George being an habitual clown this is a common occurrence, and, while I derive pleasure in Galloway’s discomfort, I have to ask whether my public reference to a political buffoon walking out of a debate with an Israeli student adds value to either the world or my own pitiful part in it. That is not a serious question, and the answer to it should be obvious.

So, I guess it’s farewell to the Twittersphere.