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?
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.