I like a lot of the new technologies that have come about over the past 30 years. I’m a big computer fan, I’m glad to have a cell phone, and our digital converter box has given us a few more channels in what former FCC commissioner Newton Minnow famously called television’s “vast wasteland” of entertainment.
I understand that Myspace and Facebook are very important in people’s lives. They are a means of keeping track of people over time, such as knowing what high school classmates are doing five years later. They are both becoming more commercial, as businesses, entertainers, authors, and politicians embrace social networking.
One thing I don’t get, though, is “Twitter.” The idea of Twitter is that a person sets up an account, and then sends brief, but frequent messages that are then seen by all that person’s “followers.” The number of characters is limited, so you can’t really say anything complex. Some examples might be, “I’m driving to work and the new Prince song is on” or, “I got a sliver from the banister in my building.”
Now, if I were on the phone with my wife or one of my kids, I might well share that sort of information, especially if it started an actual conversation. However, I can’t imagine sending a steady stream of such trivialities to tens, hundreds, or thousands of fellow Twitter-ers. Actually, a message is called a “Tweet.”
I opened a Twitter account. So far, I have sent exactly two tweets. After that, I realized that with my job, my family, my part time jobs, my writing, the goal of exercising once or twice a week, and the desire not to be in front of my computer for at least a few minutes each day, Twitter just wasn’t very important to me.
People refer to Twitter as the next big thing. Sometimes the next big thing really is, but sometimes it’s the pet rock or Crystal Pepsi. Remember Crystal Pepsi? It was the clear cola that, as Ralph from “The Simpsons” would say, “Tasted like burning.”
But then again, the legions of people younger than me who are constantly texting, even when pretending to be in a real conversation with humans in the room, must be said to have an obsession with communication. It’s like the people on an airplane who, immediately upon landing, must call someone to let them know that they’re on the ground. Up until 15 years ago, people just assumed that you’d land eventually. No real-time updates were needed.
Having read this much you have come to the conclusion that I am suffering from old-guy syndrome, and that’s probably true. I guess I’ll add Twitter to tattoos and body piercings as things I just don’t understand. I don’t care if other people tweet about their tats, or podcast about their piercings. I’ll just be a Luddite and send my old fashioned emails and make the occasional cell phone call. Or who knows: maybe tweets are in my future…