Mayberry R.F.D. is one of those really old-time television shows about a fictional place and lifestyle I've read about that people in real life had often wished they could partake in. Well, I think rural places are better than urban, even sub-urban places.
I accidentally inserted myself into what turned into a very interesting discussion on ADN (app.net community), where my reply to a post in my main stream was "App.net users are customers, Twitter users are statistics."
Then I peeked into the conversation to see what was going on. As it turns out, it was what I believe to be a rather typical conversation happening all throughout ADN on a regular basis: a newer ADN user was feeling disillusioned with his ADN venture and thinking to discontinue his subscription as Twitter seems more mature and easier to use, more flexible and such as it's even embedded directly into Apple's OS-X and iOS.
It was a friendly discussion and though I don't think anyone was actively trying to change anyone else's mind, the overall flow was a positive one, including for the original disillusioned person.
But more than that, the discussion got me to thinking, as my mind is always thinking (probably a dangerous proposition, by the way). I used to teach other deaf children and teens and I always had to think "outside the box" in explaining things, and often using metaphors to help them understand concepts and ideas, rather than hard facts or stoic descriptions of things.
So based on a combination of each contribution to this discussion thread a metaphor occurred to me and if I were asked: "what is the benefit of ADN at all? Why would I want to pay money to use it when Twitter is free and I have hundreds of followers and all my friends are there?"
Here's my short-form answer: Because the ADN community is a real community where people exchange ideas and viewpoints respectfully, for the most part, and real genuine discussions of all nature take place from fall-down funny to the deep and sensitive which creates a sense of actually belonging that I've never felt at Twitter (or FaceBook, for that matter).
Here's my long-form answer.
I have hundreds of followers and follows on Twitter. But I'm not sure I'd say I have any real connection with them. It's more like a bunch of bloggers in a room, all frantically writing posts and sharing links in the hope to get the most reposts and the most followers, even though many will report links to stories they haven;t bothered reading themselves. No one really cares personally about anyone else in either of their lists and let's face it: if you use Twitter and follow hundreds of others, they aren't your friends by definition. They're entertainment for you and not much else. If they are genuine real life friends and acquaintances and family, they'd be happy to follow you to ADN if they have the means. So the idea of "but my follow and follower lists…" isn't any kind of reason to not try or even embrace ADN. It's you looking for a justification to keep on with Twitter (which is actually quite okay to do anyway).
There are three kinds of population centers in the world: the massively over-crowded urban cities, the sub-urban sprawls and quiet, quaint rural places.
I absolutely hate going into "the city" for any reason whatsoever. Seattle is a gigantic, massive tall city, not even as large as many others. The problem with urban areas like Seattle is exactly that they are so tall. The dizzying number of human bodies are crammed into a tiny plot of real estate and it can be done because everyone is stacked on top of one another in giant skyscraper buildings. But, on the ground, people are too crowded, too cramped. Vehicle traffic is a nightmare and the sidewalks are so jam-packed the body heat alone could make you sweat, panhandlers and scammers on every corner and gigantic billboard advertisements ruining the skyline, smog, smoke, pollution and litter everywhere, not to even mention the crime rates and accosting. Everyone in the hurry, things to do, people to see, tasks to get done. No one cares about anyone else.
Tempers flare, attitudes sour, people not only don't care, but become annoyed with others around them. Careless liberal attitudes, selfish wants and perceived luxurious "needs." Forget New York and other places, the largest urban area on the entire planet is FaceBook.
I live south of Seattle in a sub-urban area. It's just as crowded as the big urban areas, but rather than being stacked on top of each other, everyone is spread-out over a wide, wide area of real estate. But all the urban negatives are still there. Though the traffic moves along better it's still pretty crowded and slow-moving. The panhandlers and scammers are still around, just not on every corner and the gigantic ugly advertising billboards still ruin the skyline, they're just a touch farther and fewer between. Fortunately the nasty temper flair-ups don't happen as often or at least, because of the sprawling nature, they don't happen within eyesight very often. But shopping store staff are still just as friendly and pleasant to your wallet as anywhere else, they still couldn't care less about you the person. Once you've paid your money they'd be most happy if you'd leave the premises and make room at the cash register for the next wallet in line.
The point is there still are traffic accidents, crime, and all the other undesirable aspects of urban life, only it's not as obvious or in-your-face because of the flat, spread-out nature of sub-urban places. Some sub-urban places are even larger and more populated than large urban places, a good example being Twitter.
I grew-up in Ocho Rios, but not in the what I thought then as "the city". I grew-up out in the rural area, where nature still thrived, real wild grass and trees and greenery, waterfalls and rivers, pristine ocean beaches, dogs and cats ran around leashless and everyone loved and owned each one of them and so on. The homes weren't as pretty or fancy as you find in "the city", and most city-dwellers might visit and wrinkle their nose at the simpleton ways of our riff-raff rural lives.
But we were happy. Happier then they, I'll bet. Crime was virtually nonexistent. We didn't feel a need to keep our doors locked. The local "variety" store knew all the children in the neighborhood by name and neighbors actually had each other over for supper on occasion. It was a tight-knit community where most knew who each other was at least, and really did care about the community as a whole. People were more understanding, kinder, gentler and respectful of each other.
If I could pack-up my life right now and return there, I would. But I've been away too long and I know it would't be the same as my childhood days. But sometimes packing-up and just leaving the stressful hectic nature of an urban or sub-urban place and jumping feet-first into the unknown is worth it.
At least in the digital world I was able to do that. I left the big urban high-stress city of FaceBook a long time ago. And though I still keep tabs on my old sub-urban stomping grounds at Twitter, I find the calmer, quieter, more meaningful sense of community and respectful neighbors one might experience in a rural place to be here at ADN.
So, if you want to just shout things out from the rooftops never really knowing if anyone else is paying attention then Twitter is the place to be. But if you want to meet great people (sure, great people are all over Twitter, too) - and actually get a chance to know some of them on a more intimate level as part of a genuine community, ADN trumps Twitter hands-down for me.
Anyway, that's how I see it.