OFF THE GRID

Maybe Twitter Is for Girls

Mar 16, 10 | 7:48 AM   byMichael Wolff
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A person from the high media stratosphere who asks to be identified only as “a friend” offers the following hypothesis: The Twitter demographic skews notably female.

As far as I know, this is yet impossible to actually know. But it makes sense.

There’s the dear-diary nature of the medium. It is not, necessarily, that boys don’t do diaries, but it is safe to say that girls do more interesting ones. A male diary is cold—just names and places—or, I’d guess, dark. And, while there is no way to measure this, who doesn’t believe that a female diary is more apt to be conversational and narrative-oriented?

And, indeed, men seem to try to turn Twitter into PowerPoint—a set of professional notes. Or, more flattening, news notes: Here’s a story from my professional orbit you might find interesting, old chap.

Again, unscientifically, there’s quite a glaring gap between guy tweets and lady tweets. Perhaps, no surprise, women's tweets seem much more likely to be personal rather than professional, upbeat rather than serious, confessional instead of political.

Twitter is, in some pronounced sense, a medium for would-be writers. It’s a perfect medium in that regard, requiring only the will and not the talent to write. Again, untested, but I’ll stake all my books on the fact that many more women than men see themselves as would-be writers. Actually, legions of tweeters seem to be young journalists—and most young journalists, nowadays, are women (a pay scale and status issue, probably).

The very notion of social media, if you think about it, is obviously more female than male. It seems striking that we overlooked this little factor in thinking about the shape of technology to come and the development of Web 2.0 and 3.0: Men aren’t very social. Again, to stereotype, but who would disagree? Men are hermetic; women gregarious.

The men who do well on Twitter, in fact, sound—er—like women. They’re self-consciously menschy. If they can’t wholly dispense with their professional concerns, they know enough to throw in some domestic issues.

Still, they are second-rate women. The form seems to sing most when it’s about relationships and fashion. Beyond war and devastation, what more compelling Twitter content is there than a young woman setting out for the evening, all expectations colored by certain disappointment.

We men are here mostly, I’ll bet, because technology brought us here. But I think we are seeing one of the first clear signs that technological coolness is giving way to a real content imperative. We men are really not talking the Twitter talk.

Anyway, my friend’s point is a large one: If Twitter is really for women, if we can define this medium so conventionally, then this is a media business model—finally.

More of Newser founder Michael Wolff's articles and commentary can be found at VanityFair.com, where he writes a regular column. He can be emailed at michael@newser.com. You can also follow him on Twitter: @MichaelWolffNYC.
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