Why are Twitter lists so … listless?

Back in November 2009, Twitter launched Twitter lists. I don’t want to ponder their many uses, but ponder how well behaved we are online.

The mainstream media would have you believe social media is the shadowy realm of stalkers, burglars, paedophiles and narcissists, but actually it’s more like the home of good catalogue keepers – if lists are anything to go by.

Now, I haven’t undertaken a formal study into this … this blog is based on my own observations.

Behold the evil earwig
Behold the evil earwig

Most of the first Twitter lists I saw emerge were based on a geographic location. Adelaide tweeters have an ‘Adelaide’ list for example. There were ‘Aussie’ lists and ‘Melbourne tweeps’ and so on.

 Other lists were based on professions (‘marketing’ ‘media’) or areas of interest (‘internet technologies’ ‘social media’ ‘travel’). And yes, there were a helluva lot of social media lists.

After a time, tweeters began to pull together different lists, along the lines of ‘people I have met’ and ‘top locals’ and ‘confirmed real person’. These were only a slight upgrade from location-based lists, but at least people were using more informal language.

Lists are almost de rigueur for conferences (along with conference hashtags). So you’ll get a list of tweeters who attended the Tweet Mania Santa Fe conference in 2010. (Don’t Google it, I just made it up). (Okay, do Google it and tell me what you find). Still fairly banal though, isn’t it? Fairly safe and well-behaved.

In the last 2-3 months, more fun has emerged.
I bemoaned the fact that there weren’t enough silly lists (via Twitter of course) and said I wanted to be on a silly list. So pal @catep36 produced this list:  The same day, @idrewthis produced this list [it’s a long story]. Of course, that made my day. Why aren’t there more Twitter lists like this?

I’m guessing it’s because people don’t expect to have fun with lists. They’ll have fun with status updates and photos and hashtags. But lists are supposed to be functional, right? Or not?

Among my first lists was the ‘Earwig Haters’  list. I detest the little, evil-looking bugs with their evil-looking horns. And I assumed a lot of other people would. So I initiated that list and threw a few random tweet friends onto it, to see what would happen. A few noticed and enjoyed it; a few asked me what was going on; most didn’t notice. Occasionally, someone will demand to be added to my Earwig Haters list. It’s great when that happens.

However, despite my social media narcissistic tendencies that lead me to believe the entire universe is reading my tweets, very few additional silly lists were created.

I thought earwigs would pave the way. Sadly, I was mistaken.

Have you seen any funny Twitter lists? Or will you make one now? [Add me!]

4 thoughts on “Why are Twitter lists so … listless?

  1. My first list was to keep track of other people whose parents were horrible enough to give them the same name as me – of course I’m the only one whoring it up: http://twitter.com/AshSimmonds/ashley-simmonds

    Started trying to keep track of Adelaide folk, but once my first list hit the 500 limit I found it pointless, so instead I started tracking you bags of meat I’ve actually met – it’s up to over 100 now (I’ve forgotten to update it for the last couple months): http://twitter.com/AshSimmonds/not-unknown

    Then there’s the funny shit list, which only has people on it who mostly just tell jokes, when I’m a bit bored I can just scroll through here for funsies: http://twitter.com/AshSimmonds/funny-shit

    But – the only list I really use on a daily basis is this one, it’s only folks who consistently post interesting/funny stuff and don’t spam it up with random banal Facebook-type updates on their personal malady – so it’s not too taxing to check every half hour for new stuff: http://twitter.com/AshSimmonds/stream-of-conscience

    Right – just inspired me to get rid of all the lists I don’t actually use…

  2. I think it might be something to do with the fact that people hardly use lists once created, I’m listed 34 times (35 yesterday *shifty eyes*) and I tend to find I hardly check the lists and when I do I find the lists populated with people I follow anyway or if I don’t follow them, I probably will.

    I’d say the only joy I get from lists consistently is when I’m put in a new one and read the list title to see that I’m considered one of many “guys with hot asses” alright I made that one up but the point still stands, or sits on it’s hot ass or whatver.

    Thanks for the blog Prakkster.

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