I have a bone to pick, a peeve to pet, and whatever other cliche that connotes griping. Over the last year I have become increasingly aware of a new social networking sensation that has apparently taken the cyber world by storm. Businessmen use it. Celebrities use it. Ordinary people who wish they were celebrities use it to keep tabs on their fantasies. If I’d believe everything the established media giants tell me I’d be tempted to think that I’m the only person who does not sit around on some sort of cyber-tree tweeting like a bird. Yes, I’m ranting about Twitter, which, by the way, is very appropriately named because of the bird-brained people it seems to produce. Perhaps I’m a bit ignorant, but Twitter seems to be the latest and most convenient way to waste time and increase our sickening narcissism. For real now, who cares if I’m at the Bubba’s Burger Barn w/ a bncha hmies chwin brgrs? If you do you probably shouldn’t.
One of the final straws that broke the camel’s back (cliche alert) came when Time ran a cover article on the brilliant and revolutionizing impact of Twitter on communication. Some of the more sensible readers were not very impressed. Here are some of my favs (quoted from 6 of the June 29, 2009 issue).
Tom from Delaware:
“Johnson noted that at the education conference he attended, people were typing and reading tweets. This means that they were not engaged in the discussion at the table and that this new communication tool was actually distracting from rather than enhancing the discussions at the forum. It can easily bee argued that the ideas lost from the discussion at hand far outweighed the brief ones gained via Twitter. Aside from being a new venue to reinforce our sadly shortened attention spans, Twitter is a narcissist’s dream of one-way communication. I, for one, will never care what Shaq is doing or thinking about anything.”
Neil from Missouri:
“A million people following Ashton Kutcher further illustrates the dumbing down of America. If this is the future, I want not part!”
Marty from Oregon:
“I predict that the twitterification of our society is going to lead to an exponential increase in early-onset Alzheimer’s. We’re increasing the rate of input to our brains and decreasing the time for processing information, and our brains are going to revolt. That, in turn, will lead to the next big industry: de-twitterification rooms where you can sit alone and unconnected, with nothing but a giant aquarium and a beanbag.”
For the record, I’m not a complete stranger to social networking, so my opinions are not inane Neolithic babblings. I did the Xanga thing back in its glory days (at least among Mennos) but have since repented. From what I understand, Facebook is now the latest way to “connect.” I’m sure it possesses some redemptive uses. Just don’t forget real, in-the-flesh, eyeball-to-eyeball, soul-to-soul connection. That’s all.
Now for a few disclaimers. First of all, I’m sure that legitimate uses for Twitter and other social networks exist. Secondly, I’m not against social media in its entirety, although ranting about it on a blog does seems somewhat hypocritical. Basically, I’m frustrated with the whole internet culture that fuels our megalomaniacal self-infatuation. Hopefully this blog is more than that. I’m also calling us as Christ followers think well about the effects of these innovations before swallowing them hook, line, and sinker (pardon this final cliche).
To all you die-hard twitterers who made it past the first 140 characters, I offer my congratulations. Hang in there! Next thing you know you’ll be reading Russian novels.