The Blog About Twitter

Why does it gross me out so much when out-of-touch media reports on things they don’t understand to out-of-touch viewers?

I just watched this video, and I could barely contain my hair from bursting into flame. It got me that mad. I disagree with almost every word said here in this video.
Go on, watch it. I’ll wait here.

Let’s start with the host. She makes me angry because her demeanor just screams “Aw, shucks, America! I’m using lingo I don’t understand and wildly inaccurate statistics to disarm technophobes into using this new hip thing someone told me was popular, but I’m still going to look smug about it!” I don’t know if I’d call people NOT twittering in the minority, lady, but, hell, why would Joe Luddite ever want to use something that’s not already been wildly popular for years before you happened upon it? Right?

She goes on to introduce the Data Doctor because wacky nicknames and middle-aged people never fail to lull other middle-aged people into a sense of comfort and belonging. Far be it from the average curious middle-aged American to actually fucking go to twitter.com and read the FAQ or see some examples themselves. Oh, and she’s “following him,” she brags, proud of her ability to click the pretty gray button that said “Follow” that some 20-year-old intern likely helped her to locate. She also says there’s “lots of good stuff on his site,” which I assume she means his twitter page, but terminology, sherminology, right? Just memorize the words “tweets” and look pretty. I really pitied her in this interview, for looking so proud of herself while reporting things she clearly doesn’t utilize herself. It reminds me of those awkward moments when you offhandedly reference a personal joke to a friend, laugh, and a third, unrelated friend joins in the laughter to prove that he got it, only there’s no way he could have, and you share a look with the original friend that says “Just let it go. Let him laugh. It’s better that way.”

Of course you’re following him, dear. *pat, pat* Of course you are.

Now, the Data Doctor — who did not spend 4 years in Data Medical School to be called “Mister,” thank you very much — I have no doubt that he knows his stuff. I’m not ageist! Good for him for bucking the trends of the majority* of middle-aged computer users (*see, I can make up statistics, too!), and NOT using his computer solely for Minesweeper and sending chain e-mails about angels. I’m sure he’s a great guy and a lot smarter than I am. And, hell, I’m certainly not telling CNN my opinions about things, although it’s probably because insulting hosts and sprouting hair-fires are probably frowned upon in the Nielson ratings for legitimate news shows.

But I have to say I disagree with a lot of what he says. He gives a few real-world examples — mainly because the host’s journalistic digging for the truth consisted of asking the questions “What is twitter,” “What is twitter for,” and “Really, tell me another way, what is twitter for?” — and I gotta say that these reasons are not why I, anyone I follow, or anyone I have ever heard of uses twitter.

He really seems to pitch that twitter fills a void that text messaging, e-mails, and blogging (and actually also “cellphones,” but my team of researchers are trying to figure out what he meant by that) leaves in the void of data communication.

He and I agree on the first thing, which is that twitter is NOT for updating people on your whereabouts all day long. I am about one tweet away from deleting a few friends who really think it’s intriguing to share with the world their breakfast menu or the new pants they bought.

He then says something not too far off the mark, which is that it’s a good source of instantaneous communication, which was proven pretty publicly in the last couple months, with tweets broke the news of bombings in Mumbai and the Hudson Crash long before media had any information. I don’t appreciate that he spun his personal role as a twitterer as the one to save and warn people of looming tech evils in the days between his radio shows, but however you want to say it, yes, it gets information to people who want to read it. Done.

I don’t like his real-world example of a family utilizing twitter to get up-to-the-minute info on an ailing family member because, while you can lock your tweets to be seen only by people you approve, you probably have a host of other friends or followers you’ve also approved that don’t really need to hear about grandmama coughing up blood. Dude, send a mass text or something. It’s not hard.

He also says if one sister asks a question, another sister can see it being asked and also see the answer, which I’ll give you is helpful, but could be done just as well with a gmail conversation log or a forum. I’m not saying I’d rather use those routes mySELF, I’m just saying I don’t buy the fact that twitter is the only thing ever that can accomplish these goals, as he seems to suggest.

Next, he goes on to talk about a small wine company twittering about some new purchases, which, okay, cool, I’ll give him that one. I might personally want to put that in a blog post or website content page for easy reference for when you want to read it, I don’t know, any time AFTER the exact minute it’s tweeted, but for the sake of argument, yes, if I cared about wine acquisitions, that might be something I’d follow.

Following CNN for breaking news even, sure, I’ll give you that, although I would probably be bored several minutes after the first 30 stories about Angelina Jolie or if I’m SURE I don’t want a CNN.com t-shirt telling me that 1 in 3 workers hungover at the office. Yes, CNN, I’m sure. And I resent you setting my default shirt size to large.

At last, he finally touched on the one thing I 100% agree with, and maybe I’m a bit biased, but when people ask me what *I* think twitter should be used for, I have the same answer. Jokes. Comics. Interesting and humorous thoughts. Mmm, viral media to an extent. Life updates. I’m not a huge stickler. Every post doesn’t need to be steeped in hysteria or mind-explosions. I don’t mind if my friend Ryan updates me about his trip to his niece’s karate class because he has other interesting things to say. I don’t feel my time is wasted when @wilw posts about looking at the moon because he posts other neat things about his life. I look forward to huge things like the election or the Oscars because I’m following some pretty funny people who make it more enjoyable to me — like a pop-up video. Yes, @PFTompkins, that host guy from “Slumdog Millionaire” DOES look like the Indian Dennis Miller! You, sir, are amusing to me.

I don’t know why anyone would ever follow a politician, as I can only imagine their tweets would be like “Vote for me!!11″ or “I’m in your Senate, making your laws, ROFL!” but to each his own. I’m sure there are people out there who DO care, and THIS is where blogs and text messages can’t hold a candle to twitter.

Me? I try to tweet when I think of something amusing. 140 characters is pretty much the ideal length for random thoughts that come to me while jogging or showering or before I fall asleep. I tweet when I find an amusing link on the internet I think the people who follow me would appreciate. I try to tweet in cool places, just for neatness’ sake, like in the studio audience for the taping of a show or while riding a horse through a nature trail. Or sometimes I have an idea for a really short blog, and it seems like a waste to make a whole post, so I see how I can parse it and publish there.

I don’t know. When I mock my co-worker Danny for having the most boring tweets ever (example tweet: “waking up. deciding if I want to eat eggs or french toast”), he replies that his are no less interesting than Lance Armstrong, who wavers between posts about what’s playing on his ipod to various races he’s winning, so he can probably get away with it.

I suppose I shouldn’t be so ornery. If anything, this new wave of twitterers will likely end up the same way any of my family and real-life friends end up when they start blogs that I read religiously. It becomes more of a hassle than fun, the updates get further apart, and I eventually reluctantly remove them from my daily bookmarks. It’s sad, but they’re not trying to win at the internet like I am, so I’m sure they could care less. Pretty soon, it’ll be just one more fad that’s over, and left in the rubble will be those of us who cared about it before the national news told us to.

See? Look. I’ve calmed down now. All isn’t lost. Soon, we’ll get twitter back from the out-of-touch, video games back from frat jocks, and sexyback from Justin Timberlake, and the world will be bright again. Oh, but the next person who uses the word “tweetheart” is getting slapped across the mouth.

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