The whole Twitter phenom just amazes me. Now, I can claim to be pretty techno-savvy. I was doing stuff online long before most people. I had a PDA when most of my peers were carrying DayRunners around. Hell, I was doing online searches for currency exchange rates in 1978, on a 300 baud TI SilentWriter 800. But Twitter - I don't get Twitter. Or rather, I get it, but I don't want it.
Readers of this blog may sometimes feel that I don't know when to shut up. I feel that if a subject is of sufficient importance to write about, it's important enough to do some research, give it some thought, carefully consider all the angles. This process is impossible on Twitter, because Twitter restricts you to 140 characters at a time. That's not a blog entry, it's a haiku; in fact, most haiku wouldn't fit on Twitter. Maybe in two successive tweets you could do a haiku, but who would know?
I started thinking about this the other day when Adam Felber, one of my favorite bloggers, announced on his blog that he is now on Twitter. I read Fanatical Apathy for two reasons, first, Adam's biting, insightful satire, and second, the charming group of posters who respond to him and to each other. So, when Adam set up on Twitter, I went and looked at his tweets. ("Tweets" - the word itself is just demeaning.) They weren't insightful, or meaningful, or satirical - they weren't anything. (OK, he has a baby under 1 year old. This is bound to have some effect.) In fact, I told him as much.
As far as I can tell, the point of Twitter is either to dribble out your immediate thoughts to the world as the spirit moves you, 140 characters at a time, or alternatively to subscribe to other people's tweets as the spirit moves them. I gather that celebrities have tens of thousands of random people subscribing to their tweets. I assume the tweets come into your cell phone as text messages; so your cell phone is constantly going off.
This is carrying electronic connectivity to absurd lengths. I spent a number of years, in my last job, carrying a duty pager, AKA the Electronic Leash. This went off whenever anything went wrong, or when someone wanted to talk to me about something, or when there was a meeting, or whatever. In fact, after one upgrade, the system would deliver news and sports updates to your text pager - constant buzzing. Frankly, I turned the sound off, except for actual messages to me. I don't want to be that frigging "connected"; and that's my objection to Twitter.
But that isn't my only objection - Twitter is constant "connection," but without any actual human contact. Just because you subscribe to Bill Gates' tweets doesn't mean you know Bill Gates. (Doonesbury nailed this pretty effectively, if you saw the strip about Roland Hedley and his tweets on March 9) I'm all in favor of constant connection if it has a human being attached to it. I want to have lunch with a friend. I want to go to a museum with a buddy. I don't want to get random 140 character blurts from someone I'll never meet.
So have fun, all you Tweeters - but if you want to talk to me, I'll be here, writing in complete paragraphs.