I've tried to love Twitter. I really have. Everyone's Twittering and I keep thinking I'm missing out on something. I just can't do it, though.
I understand that some people get a lot out of it, but I find it distracting and often trivial. My husband frequently emails me to tell me what he had for lunch (yesterday it was French toast). Twitter seems like a perfect medium for him.
There's a lot of crap to wade through to get to the gems. Yes, I've found some good links and pithy quotes, but for every great resource or idea I have to wade through 20 messages about people's need for coffee, how beautiful the weather is in someone's hometown, or some event I missed.
I know there's this whole idea of the "ambient awareness" that I can develop by letting these tweets flow over me, but that just doesn't happen. Twitter doesn't feel like gentle background noise to me. It's more like a loud cocktail party where hundreds of people are having their own conversations (often about themselves) and I'm forced to pay attention to all of them. At once.
I also struggle with what to tweet. In the name of ambient awareness, should I talk about the construction going on next door? (I did). But then I just feel like I'm blathering into the void--who really CARES about the banging hammers interfering with my concentration? And if I only tweet business-like things like "read this great article," am I just boring? Twitter seems to provoke in me the social insecurities I'd hoped to leave behind in high school. At 45, I have plenty of other things to worry about.
Finally, on a more philosophical and serious note, I have this sneaking suspicion that people reducing their thoughts to 140 characters on a regular basis is less "zen" and more an invitation to excessive simplification in a complex world. It doesn't seem like a good idea. Already I feel we're losing our ability to engage in sustained, complicated thought. When we're breaking things down into 140 character bites, we're further diluting our capacity for the kind of thoughtful communication that seems particularly critical in a world of credit default swaps. I can't help but think that this Twitter culture somehow contributed to us not paying attention long enough to figure things out.
The Anti-Twitter Collection
Twitter was OK when it was this uber-geeky sideshow, confined to Twitterati and their followers. But now tweeting is going mainstream and I'm getting concerned. Seriously. They're even thinking of teaching Twitter to elementary school students--the very people who should be EXPANDING their vocabularies and developing their ability for complex thought, not learning how to say something in 140 characters or less!
And honestly, Twitter is all I seem to hear about anymore. I'm tired of reading about Twitter everywhere, especially all these link love Twitter-glorifying posts that are proliferating beyond all reason.
So consider this the anti-Twitter collection for those of us who are "twaters," or Twitter haters, as Alexander Zaitchik calls us in our first selection below. (Let me add that Twitter love is so strong right now, I actually had a hard time finding this stuff!)
So here goes:
- Twitter Nation Has Arrived: How Scared Should We Be?--To my mind, possibly the best anti-Twitter piece I've seen--a "Twater Manifesto" of sorts. It is even anti-Twitter in both its length and vocabulary. I particularly enjoyed this excerpt:
- Twitter, Communication and My Intermittent Inner Luddite--Yves Smith draws a disturbing comparison to Newspeak and George Orwell's 1984 that makes Twitter seem less like a harmless aid to narcissm and more like a nefarious plot--which it may well be. Note that this also supports my idea that Twitter culture keeps us from being able to engage in the sustained discussions necessary for the complex issues we face. (Side Question-In Twitter speak, would you be considered a "Twuddite" instead of a Luddite?)
- Twitter Hater--Apparently as far back as 2007, the thrill of Twittering was getting on people's nerves. Kevin Dugan says it isn't Twitter so much as "the effusive glee that’s annoying me as blog post upon blog post fills my RSS reader with accounts of grown men being reduced to giddy/clubby school children." (These continue unabated in 2009I might add.)
- Why Twitter Sucks--Captain Oblivious hates Twitter too, although many of his objections seem to be more technical than social.
- I Hate Twitter--It's not just an age thing. Twitter hater Grayson Davis is "twenty-something."
Twitter Hating Videos
Apparently Hitler is on Twitter, which is another reason to avoid it:
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||M - Th 11p / 10c|
This video actually does a great job of capturing the Twitter experience for me--the dramatic music making it sound like everything's urgent and then you have the constantly shifting tweets ranging from links to other posts to "my clanging bracelet is annoying my co-workers."
Before you say anything. . .
Yes, I'm still on Twitter, but haven't posted an update in weeks and only log on now to see what my 21 year-old is tweeting.
Also, I know that many of my complaints will be attributed to "user error"--as in the tool is only as good as how you use it. So if I'm getting a lot of trivial tweets, it's because of my "follow' strategy. Maybe. Even so, I don't want to put in any more effort than I have to to make something work for me.
Finally--don't take my Twitter hate personally. If you love Twitter, more power to you. There are plenty of people I like and respect who swear by it. And I'll continue to recommend it to people as something to try out. I may even stop in to eavesdrop once in awhile. It's just that I felt we needed a little balance with all this Twitter love going on. And I needed more than 140 characters to do it.