Thursday, June 11, 2009

Twitterty-Gibbet

I'm a bit conflicted about Twitter. It seems like unalloyed narcissism. But then, I've been giving it a try for the last week or two and I've noticed that it comes in handy for odd one-liners that I might have turned into blog posts but which really don't deserve that much air time.

So in that way it's potentially useful, provided one doesn't become unhealthily obsessed with apprising the internet of their every eye-twitch.

There's a per-tweet entry limit of about 140 characters (160?) and I often wonder how this will affect the next generation of upper-academia: how much do you want to bet some first-year university student will some day print off a week's worth of tweets and submit it as her writing assignment? God help us all.

11 comments:

Dave Hingsburger said...

Don't get it, don't need it. There's way to much information trivia floating around desguised as information. Too, aren't we just feeding a kind of unhealthy need to know every thing about someone, perhaps breeding obsession and stalkers ... but then, I'm paranoid. No I won't tell you what I'm wearing right now, where I'm typing and what flavours I could suss out in my last burp.

yarninmypocket said...

I am starting to get it, kinda. I'm picky about people I follow, and will unfollow for a variety of reasons, including folks who tweet too much. I regard it as a sort of alert-service: new Knitty up, awesome article online and so forth, but also a way of sharing small moments of joy/things that have made me smile. It gives me the illusion that I have my finger on some pulse, somewhere, and it is beating. Also, keeping in daily touch with friends on the other side of the world == AWESOME. btw, I'm @yarnscape.

bethro said...

two things:
1-not clear about the tone that implies narcissism is negative.
2-Everyone is very critical of the char limit on Twitter. In this day of poetry without full sentences and paintings made of fecal matter, perhaps re-instituting creative limits is not a bad thing.

Shan said...

yarninmypocket - keeping in touch: I hear that. That's the reason I can't delete my Facebook account, much as I'd like to.

Bethro: I quite like the 140 character limit, actually. But I'd disagree with your implication that Twittering is creative.

lizbon said...

I'm a Twitter junkie, I admit it. Why? Well, there's a strange haikulike quality about those 140-character fragments. Also, there's something about hearing random snippets of people's thoughts that's got the verisimilitudinal appeal of looking in apartment windows at night and catching glimpses of the lives lived there.

Or maybe I'm just a voyeur by nature.

Emily said...

I'm kind of fascinated by Twitter. I was very resistant to it, but was finally persuaded to sign up in order to follow fake Diana Vreeland, an idea I find hilarious ("Why don't you ... consider where the most ridiculous place to put a little organza ruffle would be, and then do it? If possible, add two.")

I actually find that I don't mind the eye-twitch type posts. Part of it is that I only follow people I actually know (albeit sometimes in a marginal, web-based way), and keeping up on the quotidian details of friends' lives gives me a feeling of base-level connection to them, similar to what I remember feeling back in high school when I would expend hours daily on long, rambling phone conversations with my friends. I would know if they were prepping for a date that night, if they were dreading that biology test, etc. It's somehow comforting to be in the loop about that kind of thing, and to provide ho-hum encouragement ("You'll do great on your test!" etc.).

On the one hand, this is horrifying, because reading someone's 140-character updates on a website is obviously NOT the same as actually spending time with them.

On the other hand, it's just not gonna happen that I will ever go back to high-school levels of phone time. I hate talking on the phone. Many of my friends live all the way across the country. Yeah, we blog and email, and get together when we're in the same city. But my friend would never think to email me about a lot of the Twitter-type stuff, and I feel like I do get some kind of everyday satisfaction out of knowing it.

It's certainly not a replacement for essays, in-depth examinations, epic poems, novels, treatises, manifestos, and so on. But I get something out of it. Occasionally it even reminds me that brevity is the soul of wit - and obviously I need the reminder. :-)

Annalea said...

Ooo. Good words in these comments:

Lisbon: verisimilitudinal

Emily: quotidian

Love 'em. :o)

Speaking as a former English/Creative Writing major: As for the Twitter-cum-writing assignment . . . modern poetry, anyone? ;o)

kate said...

I won't do Twitter for the same reason I cancelled my Facebook account - I'm online too much anyhow, and the people I really want to keep up with I talk to (either by phone or email) regularly.

But I like all the points made here - I think it definitely depends on your personality type as well.

bethro said...

Not inherently creative, but then, neither is painting. But still, I see your point and will revise to:

Good to have limitations. The end.

I just read your post on the YH post (must have not come in to my reader). I very much enjoyed the post. (yours, not hers. I haven't read hers and don't intend to).

Jadekitty said...

I like Twitter because it updates my Facebook. Plus it makes me really think about what I am going to post, and the whole updated with people I know thing makes me happy :) (and I am repeating what everyone above said)

a mouse said...

ha ha ha love it.