Right now I'm blogging about Twitter

At the office today, a few of us were discussing Twitter, the website that lets people broadcast mini-updates about their life, thoughts, whereabouts and other news in chunks of 140 characters or less, all the time. People do it through their cell phones and desktop computers, and they do it from home, the car, the airplane, the airplane skyway, the airport lobby, the baggage claim, press conferences, government meetings, trade shows, beaches, you name it. Barack Obama uses Twitter. So does CNN, so does Wil Wheaton. There are YouTube videos explaining how Twitter works. There are how-to articles on how to get more people watching your Twitter updates.

The one question I have is...

WHY? Why do people feel the need to take it that far? Why do we want to be so immediately connected to each other that when our friends and colleagues decide to make themselves a sandwich or blow their nose, we want to know about it?

And I ask that question not entirely out of judgment or disdain. I'm truly curious about this phenomenon, and yes, there's that part of me that wonders if I'm just a moron (or worse in my line of work, "Web 2.0 Stupid") because I can't understand the motivation to spend that much time sharing so little useful information. There's some urge to try it out to see if I feel any different, like maybe there's a secret chemical that's released into your brain when you tell the Internets about crossing the street or visiting the bathroom. But I can't imagine that it does anything other than to further isolate people from meaningful face-to-face interactions, or to further destroy the collective attention span of humanity. As one person said today in our office conversation, "Twitter is like blogging for people who can't concentrate long enough to complete a three paragraph blog post without getting distracted."

Three paragraphs! Three paragraphs is a tome compared to 140 characters. Has it gotten that bad? Why, when I was blogging back in the day --

Wait, what was I typing about?

Oh yeah.

So, I'm thoroughly perplexed, and I don't like being thoroughly perplexed about things that lots of people are doing. It's scary, scary like realizing that everyone around you just became a flesh eating zombie and that they might be looking for food soon. I understand why people smoke, watch the Super Bowl, and pick their scabs, but I don't get this. Maybe I just need to try it out.

If any zomb--er, Twitter users out there want to try to justify this insanity to me, please do so below...I expect more than 140 characters.

10 thoughts on “Right now I'm blogging about Twitter

  1. Twitter is an odd creature...

    I've been using it on a nearly daily basis for a little less than a year now and it's still hard for me to explain the allure of it.

    I'm sure it means something different to everyone who uses it, but to me it's a means of keeping in touch and feeling like your connected to those you "follow" on Twitter. I'll admit, on it's own (using Twitter's website) it's not all that useful and can be difficult to use effectively.

    However, the real power and attractiveness lies in the 3rd party tracking/updater apps (like Twitteriffic) that have been created to run as a standalone desktop app. Being able to update your status and view the status of those you're following at a glance, without visiting the Twitter website, makes a big difference.

    Some use it as a promotional tool, others use it as a means of staying connected with friends, and some use it as a way of sharing their day with anyone who will listen. I probably use it for all of these reasons.

  2. I guess I feel like an old stick in the mud on this one as well. I'm generally game to try new web apps as they come along, my interest in most of them doEs not last long, but I cannot figure out the appeal of micro blogs.

    It might be timing: most of my friends - people of "my generation" - are too busy working/living to have much time to keep up on what their friends are doing - I read news and some blogs already, when would I read someone's Twitter?

    Oh, and what is a Tumblr?

  3. Thomas:
    Re Tumblr, I have no idea. I read their own description of what they do, and I still have no idea:

    "To make a simple analogy: If blogs are journals, tumblelogs are scrapbooks. You can also look at tumblelogs as slightly more structured blogs that make it easier, faster, and more fun to post and share stuff you find or create."

    Huh? What the hell is a slightly more structured blog? And how does a journal relate to a scrapbook? I'm sure some young punk out there will tell us that "it's like the way an apple relates to a Frisbee" but that doesn't help me much. Punk.

    This is getting twisted.

  4. Actually - funny that you should mention it. I've been subscribing to a twitter feed from a couple who live in LA - they both work in the movie scene and twitter a dozen times a day - and have kept it up for a few months now. I have never met them, only know his brother. Buts its kinda fun to see the random stuff - to connect with someone about the little stuff, the odd and the funny.... no way I could do it for more than one or two people. And have thought about using it to give outlet to my ADHD brained self. But it would rapidly devolve into rants about drivers and the frequent use of the F-bomb.

    I will admit that I read the first 400 or so words of this blog and then started scanning. so it goes on the innernets with so much info on a daily basis. same thing that makes MetaFilter so great...

  5. Root word: "twit"...

    It's far more reliable to simply ingest the secret chemical into your brain...

    Other theories:

    Extrapolation of the ol' "divide and conquer" model. (Yep, it only seems like we're "more connected")

    Count, label, and commodify every last particle and pixel on earth, empower it to blog, and then we shall understand how to control the world.

    Entertain us! Distract us! Compel us!

    Track us! And make ubiquitous the worldwide database of our permanent record - although twitter appears to only embellish the real permanent record (kinda like the "POW!!" and "BamMM!" soundtrack tagged to the Batman cartoons.)

    They're called terabytes - because that's how many planets it would take to sustain all the fucking data collected...

    -Jim

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