Tuesday, September 18, 2007


I don't get it.

Usually I "get it." I instantly took to instant messaging. I blog. I can type texts on my Treo faster than a 12-year-old girl.

But Twitter makes no sense.

one week deep into a Twitter experiment, a trial to see what my friends
and I can learn about the latest networking craze, and so far the only
thing I've learned is that I don't get Twitter.

To those of you
born before "Tron," Twitter is a social network that functions as a
kind of micro-blog centered around the question, "What are you doing?"
Anyone who "follows you" can see your answers, which you post at
irregular intervals at all hours and for no particular reason.

"Writing an e-mail to Aunt Katie," Leslie writes.

"Thinking about too many things at once. What can I delete from my brain? Nothing," Eric muses.

"Waiting for a burger at Whole Foods. Excited to learn they grill burgers here," Hubby posts.

Twitter I can learn about my friends' most banal thoughts and actions
in real time, as if I were there with them in line at the bank. But
without actually having to schlep with them to the bank.

part of the appeal, I think. Since we can't all be together all the
time, isn't it nice to have technology fool us into thinking that we're

Maybe. I'm all for a false sense of community
germinated in the ever-isolating confines of my lonely home office.
It's why I read blogs. But one of my problems with Twitter is that
people only post their thoughts when nothing is going on.

by following Leslie's Twitters as she looks around her kitchen, I can
get a pretty good snapshot of how her day is going. I might even sense
that she seems indecisive about food and that now might be a good time
to try to grab lunch with her.

Still, she didn't tell me that she is bored and slightly hungry. Instead, she noted, to no one in particular, that she was "mulling homemade falafel."

that doesn't make me closer to her. It doesn't connect us. Instead, it
makes me feel as though I'm spying on her. It's sanctioned spying,
sure, but it's spying nonetheless.

Still, I find myself drawn to
Twitter, checking it every few hours to learn that Chris is
contemplating a car wash and that Eric is having e-mail problems. Is it
just the mental voyeurism? Is it just boredom?

What gives?

contemplate Twittering the question, but opt instead to IM Kevin, one
of the few members of the crew who decided not to join the experiment.
Kevin is no fan of social networking – or of being social, for that
matter. He has nine friends on MySpace, and two of them, he notes, are
inanimate objects.

"Moth/flame," Kevin responds about my vague
fascination. "Next month something else will burn bright, and you'll
head over there to check it out."

He's probably right. I'm just
slack-jawed Drooler Monkey. Still, I don't play "World of Warcraft" and
I've never stepped foot in Second Life. So there has to be something
else at work here.

As I try to figure out what it is, my computer
screen beeps at me. Maayan sends me an IM to tell me about her day.
Then Yvette pops up on my screen to say she's excited to visit her
brother next month. Heather IMs me – I haven't spoken to her in ages –
and we do a quick catching-up before she heads off for bed.

when I realize why I love/hate Twitter: Twitter is wonderful because my
friends are wonderful – I love them, so I love keeping up with them.
But it's awful because I'd much rather exchange mundane nothings with
them directly.

Better yet, I'd like to see them. Last week, Steve
flew in from New York to surprise me for my birthday. We hung out for
most of the weekend, laughing and talking about nothing.

nothing. No Earth-shattering exchanges. No bombs dropped. Just our own
live versions of "mulling homemade falafel," in between sips of coffee
and too much food.

I realize that much of what I say with my
friends can be distilled into Twitters; we're not the deepest bunch.
But it's so much nicer just to be in their company, often not saying
anything at all.

So I post another Twitter to the group: "Get offline and come over."

Twitter as a way of inviting people to hang out in person?

This I get.

No comments:

Post a Comment