Tuesday, September 14, 2010

And other reasons why

A friend was asking me the other week - incredulously, needlingly - why I don't use Twitter.

Well, I've already dealt with this topic once.

On this occasion, my further responses were:

I like to cling to the illusion that I have 'a life'.  Joining Twitter would be the final surrender of that dream.

An Internet-capable phone = intolerable expense + intolerable risk of loss  (Hmm.  Much like a girlfriend.)

I'm a long-winded so-and-so.  I can't express myself adequately in less than a couple of hundred words.  Actually, doing so in much less than a thousand words is difficult for me.  Trying to say something in 140 characters is ridic

Yes, I was conducting this conversation by SMS.

SMS I like, because, despite its excessive brevity, it is at least a targeted, one-to-one form of communication.  It's the vanity, the narcissism of Twitter that irritates the crap out of me as much as its inconsequentiality.  Most people have nothing worthwhile to say.  Even if they have got something worthwhile to say, they can't usually say it very well in such a small number of words.  And yet.... they insist on saying it anyway..... and plastering it up on a 'virtual billboard' for the whole world to see.  Or ignore, as the case may be.

The corollary vexation of Twitter at the moment is that it's become such a dominating fad amongst the tech-geek types that they've come to use it as their primary - often just about their only - means of communication.  And they're not even self-aware about this.  They don't realise that they've withdrawn from contact with you because you happen not to be on Twitter.  They don't realise that they're spurning you by failing to get in touch by e-mail or SMS or phone call any more.  They don't even seem to realise that they're being bloody rude by never returning your calls or e-mails or text messages.

I don't think there is any feature of the modern world that I DESPISE quite so wholeheartedly as Twitter.

So, please, don't ask me to join this community of the braindead.  And don't tell me how much you use it.  And don't tell me what an interesting 'conversation' you were having on it the other day.  Or we're going to stop being friends.


The Weeble said...

@Froog: No mentioning Twitter...or what? You'll "unfriend" us?

Froog said...

Don't toy with me, Weeble.

Twitter addiction is like touting Hello Kitty accessories or thinking that going to shows at D-22 is a worthwhile thing to do - an indication of a sorry dislocation from reality.

The Weeble said...

Oh, pshaw. Twitter addiction is a sad thing, to be sure, but conflating the 140-character cries for help of lost souls with the majority of Twitter users is just sloppy thinking. I find Twitter useful as a back-channel for discussion and as a way of rapidly putting a question or a thought out to a large number of people. It's not replacing anything; rather, it's offering a new channel for communication. You can choose not to use it if you like, but it's silly to deride it without having used it.

Froog said...

Weeble, you're talking like a man who's had two sleepless overnight train journeys in the last few days!

It is silly not to deride things that are worthy of derision. And there are some things that it would plainly be silly to try, under any circumstances. And the derision-worthiness of most things is readily apparent without having to experience them directly (and thereby exposing yourself unnecessarily to the derision of others).

You can't really do anything on Twitter that you can't do equally well by SMS (or e-mail, or on a blog or a BBS or Facebook). It's just that a handful of geeky types like you have made it your favoured forum of interaction - a surrender to faddishness and techno-snobbery which excludes the great majority of us who do not have (and NEVER will have, even if we could afford one) an i-Phone or similar.

You are so devoted to 'real time communications' that you do not neglect to bombard people with e-mails and text messages (and blog comments) as well. But you are a statistical freak in that. Most people who get the Twitter bug come to rely on it almost exclusively, and jeopardise their relationships with non-Twitterers.

The Weeble said...

Tommyrot and poppycock, old bean. Think of it this way: Twitter is to SMS and e-mail as Tumblr is to blogging, or as Polaroids are to photography: conceptually similar, but intended for fast throwaway applications. In my case, this is a good thing, as Twitter allows me to release my brain farts in a manner that doesn't require me to e-mail, mass-SMS, or - heaven forbid - blog.

(Also, iPhones and other smartphones aren't necessary for twittering -- regular SMS messages will do the trick just fine. As will web clients. There are even e-mail gateways, should that float your boat.)

Froog said...

The only people I know who Twitter have smartphones. Maybe that would be because you can't read Twitter off a regular phone?

And why the fuck would you want to SMS something to Twitter when you could just SMS it directly to the person/people you wanted to read it?

What the fuck is Tumblr??? And Polaroids?! They have found a tiny niche amongst professional photographers who find them useful for doing quick previews, particularly of studio lighting set-ups. But I don't think any normal person has used them during your lifetime. In the 'mass market', they were only a short-lived fad back in the 1970s. It is my fervent hope that this Twitter nonsense will prove to be similarly short-lived.

Froog said...

OK, Guy Pearce used a Polaroid in Memento. Not a very 'normal' person.

Great piece of product placement by the Polaroid people, but I don't think it did much to revive their commercial fortunes.

The Weeble said...

An example use case for Twitter: I want to put out a general question to a large number of people -- say, "Are there any places in Beijing that sell Product X?" Twitter's more effective for this sort of thing than SMS, because it allows you to reach (potentially) a greater number of people. Ditto for bon mots that may come to mind. I'm actually surprised you haven't picked up on it for that very reason.

Froog said...

There are other forums you could use beside (instead of, better than) Twitter - on one of the expat rags, for example. And I'm told there's a 'members only' BBS called Beijing Salon or Beijing Cafe or something that's very good for that kind of query.

In Beijing, the Twittering community is relatively small, and you probably know most of them anyway. You would probably reach more people if you just sent a text message to everyone in your phone address book (although, of course, that wouldn't be so thrillingly 'real time').

The idea of consulting strangers in public or semi-public forums does not appeal to me. I prefer targeted communication.