Apr 21, 2010 0
While using Twitter was an interesting new experience for me, I did not find it to be especially seductive as an SNS. This said it was an interesting forum for funny anecdotes and little meaningless messages that might otherwise not be sent. More compelling than the need to express my minute-to-minute thoughts was to comment on other’s posts, particularly those that expressed a shared sentiment. Tweeting about meals, doing laundry, or showering seemed entirely too banal for me and not worth the consideration of posting. If the purpose of Twitter is to connect people and foster communication between them, would anyone care if somebody just took out the trash? All would communicate to me is that that person does normal activities and is bored and thus feels like writing anything. The bottom line for me was the question: Am I writing to speak or to be heard? The distinction is highly significant both for Twitter and other SNS. I am reminded of a Mark Twain quote which sheds some light onto the subject.
“What a wee little part of a person’s life are his acts and his words! His real life is led in his head, and is known to none but himself”
Twain, as a renowned author, concedes that even the most eloquent of writing or speech can not accurately portray an individual because no one can truly know a person, save that person them self. This concept, coupled with the trivial nature of most tweets, indicates that something like Twitter is completely devoid of true self-expression. Furthermore, were one to express their inner feelings accurately, doing so on a forum so open as Twitter suggests the need to be heard instead of to merely speak. This ties directly into my experience using Twitter where I felt foolish posting about trite subjects because there was no genuine need for me to speak my mind. I tend not to dwell on things such as an extremely long lunch line in my mind, so for me it was superfluous to mention it for others to read. The fleeting thought in my mind is then over exaggerated by the nature of tweeting about it. Furthermore, I never even considered posting anything nearing private information. I chose not to use a picture or to post any personal information. I think that doing so, especially posting about daily routines and habits, might constitute a genuine privacy risk. For predators, insight into a potential victims routine paired with photographs and person information could create a toxic combination. Admittedly, my pessimism prevented me from forming a reflex to tweet (for better or for worse), and may have reduced my tweeting potential. Nonetheless, I still contend that incessant tweeting, mainly targeting banal ones, offers no method for genuine expression or communication with others.
I also used decided to expand my Twitter use to explore the other possibilities outside of my group of classmates. Many celebrities use Twitter as a way to diffuse information, or just to throw bait to the swarms of hungry fans. For my case study, I decided to become a follower of teen heartthrob Justin Bieber. The verdict for me: still useless. I learned that Justin Bieber took a trip to Japan where he was apprehensive, yet intrigued by Japanese cuisine. Certainly some pertinent information might appear on his Twitter like release dates of new albums and the like, but they are enveloped and discarded amongst the deluge of trivial tweets. I believe the greatest impetus for his 2,000,000 followers is a desire to feel proximity to him. Drooling fans want to read anything and everything that he writes in order to “know” him in a deeper more meaningful way. The catch is that there is no underlying morality or practicality in reading what he has to say. His word, if it is even he writing all of the time, is given importance because of his name and celebrity. To me this is no different than Michael Jordan advertising Hanes underwear or any other arbitrary celebrity testimonial. The ultimate goal for the Bieber twitter is not to connect personally with fans, but to garner and maintain fans that will translate into higher attendance at concerts and greater record sales. This may be a very cynical point of view, but better to be cynical than naïve.