There is something about twitter I don’t like. Maybe it’s the very tight limit on words. I am pretty verbose at the best of times but understand the utility of word counts as I have to mark lots of postgrad essays and theses that are like telephone directories (remember them?). There is also a real skill to making meaning within such constraints most notably demonstrated in Haiku. However, most tweets don’t demonstrate much in the way of skilled composition and the worst are like ego flatulence. There are of course noble exceptions and good writers can work in any text medium from chalk on slate to twitter.
I noticed that I immediately attracted a few followers and was bemused by this. God knows who some of them are but my guess is that, like Facebook, there are people who simply try to accumulate the greatest numbers of followers or ‘friends’. I guess this sometimes suits a business model but I don’t really have one of those to promote.
Lots of people I respect have tried to persuade me twitter is a useful tool for me but I am still not convinced. I have come to a few conclusions though. Firstly, twitter is good if you like telling everyone where you are and what you are doing. I could have tweeted from every Olympic event, dinner party or tasting I went to over the last fortnight but my English reticence runs deep. The danger is the tedious ‘I’m on the train…’ or ‘the 82 Margaux is marvelous today’ type tweet. I can understand the economy of scale, as you do not need to text lots of people if you tweet, but that also makes it a bit ‘scattergun’ like junk mail. Maybe I am cynical about motivations and it is just a bit of healthy celebration when something is going on. However, I have been trying to develop mindfulness and want to be immersed in something, not commenting on it. Many people now film important moments but seem to miss the experience itself.
A second use, cited by people, is to distribute links and photos. I can see some utility in this. But sorting the chaff from the wheat is so time consuming and I barely manage all the emails I get. Social media has moved so quickly over the last decade and I am not sure I have moved as fast. It has taken me a lot of time to get my head around blogging and maybe I am simply long in the tooth (although many oldsters seem to thrive on it). I have a smart phone but, like most people, do not really use it to its full capacity. I guess this may be key, I tend to do most things on a desk or laptop and twitter is suited to phones.
I guess if you are starting a revolution it is a handy tool, like Blackberry messaging (although I think the key to that was being radio rather than web based). The success of the Olympics will have opiated the masses for the time being but we forget the riots of last year at our peril, social inequality still exists as does mindless criminality. Perhaps tweeting ‘let’s all rob pound land tonight’ is the apotheosis of tweeting. I hope not.
I have actually tweeted and can be found at @winepsych (I think). The twitter jury is still out as far as I’m concerned though.