Saturday, February 28, 2009

Twitter Schmitter

Joe Biden was either texting some one on the House floor on his Blackberry or Twittering during the President’s speech to Congress . You can never tell exactly what someone is doing when they are looking at their lap, other than not paying attention or being incredibly rude. Either way, it doesn’t work for me. Even if the President’s speech wasn’t a “State of the Union,” a non State of the Union of that magnitude deserves the same respect… but that’s only one former White House geek’s position.

To be truthful, I am tired of new technologies that take us one more step away from having interpersonal communication. I stopped myself short of calling it anti social behavior because it is neither social nor is it anti. You are communicating but just not with another human being who can see your face or hear your voice. Both of which are very important when tone and gesture do impact on message…. but that’s only one former speech teacher’s position.

Geez, I kind of sound like I’m out of touch but, for example, what is the point of Twittering? I can only compare it to Valentines or Mother’s Day, which we all know is secondarily a celebration of love and parenthood, with the primary purpose of providing a bonanza to the florists and the greeting card people. They were both holidays created to do business—and not necessarily of the heart . But that’s only one former romantic’s opinion.

Just kidding. I’m still a romantic but with the economy being what it is I would rather celebrate with a kiss than a card. But that’s not what I was going to write about. It’s the Twitter thing. A few months ago I was invited to participate in a seminar with other bloggers and one old fart writer who was there for who knows what. Maybe he was the Dean’s friend and maybe he was supposed to provide controversy—it didn’t work. He was just an old fart. Anyway, there were a few bloggers who were talking about how many thousands of people followed them on Twitter. [Editor’s note: We officially have 5 followers on We’reJustSayin’ plus all you fabulous diehards who come without being forced.] Having absolutely no knowledge of Twitter I assumed it was like Face Book – a place where you could bond with friends who had either moved on from e-mail or found Face Book a more interesting way to socialize. And I agree, Face book is fun. So, I signed up for a Twitter account which, for the first three weeks wouldn’t let me Twitter but did allow me to be bored by the Twitter's of others. The concept is to let people know what you are doing and thinking all day long.

Senator Claire McCaskill says she Twitters because her constituency has a right to know what she’s doing. Do they really? It would be interesting to know how many of her constituents are also Twittering. I wonder how constituencies survived for oh so many years without knowing what their elected officials were doing using only a sentence several times an hour. After a while, they will have to find someone to Twitter for them just like they have someone blog about them. . And really, are they going to share intimacies and personal information beyond, “I shouted out for Justice Ruth Ginsberg”, which is a nice thing but what does it mean in the greater scheme of things. Claire cares. Ruth is OK. It’s good news but I probably could live without the information. I would rather know what the Senator thinks about legislation and how she votes—and I can get that on her web site. I doubt that she will tell us if she had sex and it was good, or that she is having problems with her bowels – but that’s what Twitterers do with their allotted 140 characters. I don’t mean to pick on Senator McCaskill. I do like her. But I wish she, just like all the other elected officials who have discovered this novel way to clutter up cyberspace, would stop it.

Let’s face it (Not Face Book it), all these new technologies are about making connections, reaching out to strangers, avoiding having direct face to face conversations and of course, making money by advertising. And Twitter, the latest fad, is just a way of self aggrandizing ordinary tasks and linking to as many people as possible – to do business. Just like the flower and card people. As they say in discussing their goals; “We plan to build Twitter, Inc into a successful, revenue-generating company that attracts world-class talent with an inspiring culture and attitude towards doing business.” Whatever does ‘inspiring culture’ mean?

I Face Book every other day. I Twitter about once every two weeks—because I don’t want to be left out (that’s about 10 letters a day.) But admittedly, I keep thinking, who cares what I’m doing right now except the police if I was beating my kids. To be honest, I can’t imagine what I would do with a My Space Page and I stopped being Linked In because I can’t remember that many passwords. Nope, and by the way, what I am doing right now is praying that I never think any of these new social interactions take the place of a good fireside chat. We're just sayin'....Iris


Anonymous said...

You've gone over to the "other side" with the twittering thing. Read David Gregory now twitters. How about doing research on a news story? I DON'T CARE ABOUT WHERE HE IS HEADED OR HIS LITTLE RANDOM THOUGHTS. sorry, you're not supposed to use all caps.

M (another old fart)

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