Meet Twitter, the new kid in school. This social networking service seems friendly enough, plays well with other technologies, and is totally cool in a geeky sort of way. Like Rivers Cuomo on serotonin reuptake inhibitors.
Twitter invites anyone with a computer to open an account and get their own personal Web page. There, they can upload endless updates on their doings in 140 characters or less. Twitter members can invite friends to join or hook up with new friends via the service and receive instant updates from everyone with whom they choose to connect.
Twitter’s chatty nature and intuitive usability resulted in instant popularity, and soon Twitter was hangin’ in the inner most circle of the tech-savvy in-crowd. So, as anybody who ever went high school could predict, affable Twitter started picking up enemies as well. To quote this now endlessly quoted line from the biggest in-crowder of all, tech blogger Robert Scoble, “Twitter hate is the new black."
Indeed, a whole lot of early adopters hate Twitter with Ted Kaczynski intensity. Seriously, there are netizens out there that hate Twitter worse than the third season of “Lost.” Twitter’s attraction is easy to assess for those interested in the high of new technology and the camaraderie of nonstop contact. It’s the next logical step after the design inanity that is MySpace. But what’s with the animosity? I’m all for hating things, but a lot of these bloggers are downright nasty.
Here’s my theory: “Logan’s Run.”
I’m betting the majority of all these Twitter-hatin’ cranks are war-torn veterans of Web 1.0. They’ve been through the bubble and bust. They experienced the unbridled excitement of wicked-cool technology with all it promises … and they got burned. Bearing all the cynicism that typifies Generation X, these Twitter-haters sneer at un-jaded Generation Y with anticipatory schadenfreude and jealousy. Yes, jealously. Admit it or not, inability to immediately embrace Twitter means you’re old.
See? “Logan’s Run.” Twitter is the lifeclock crystal implanted in the palm of your hand at birth. Once it starts blinking, it’s your time to renew on Carousel. And nobody ever comes back from Carousel. Admitting you don’t “get” Twitter is like admitting you can’t hear those specialized ring tones only audible to the young. That your crystal is blinking. That you’re no cooler than your parents complaining about “the rap music.” And raging against the blinking of the crystal, or calling Twitter “stupid,” feels a whole lot better than admitting that.
Every generation must confront some change where the level of discourse is denuded. Twitter haters, for the most part, are the same people who defended violent video games, insisted that spell check doesn’t negatively affect spelling, and that IMing from your day job is no harm to productivity. Twitter is this generation’s movie of the book. And as every previous generation knows, the book is better.
And also, Twitter is stupid.
It really is. I mean, c’mon. You don’t have to get your bowels in an uproar to know that. Twitter is like an RSS feed to every boring aspect of your friend’s lives. And your friends are boring. How could they not be? Hourly updates on your best bud’s activities get dull pretty fast even if your best bud is Jack Bauer:
“woke up feeling all angsty…left arm tingly”
“oh noes…shot curtis today :-(”
“thinkin i gotta torture this guy. oh well”
“can’t remember last time i peed”
Why do we think we’re so important that we believe other people want to know about what we’re having for lunch, how bored we are at work or the state of inebriation we happen to be at this very moment in time? How did society get to the point that we are constantly improving technology so that this non-news can reach others even faster than a cell phone, a text message, a blog, our Facebook profiles?
There’s no blaming Generation Y for that. Blame their parents, those touchy-feely post boomers who piled on the praise and positive reinforcement, lest they bruise little Dylan or Madison’s budding self esteem. It’s Mom and Dad who awarded gold stars and iMacs every time their precious progeny engaged in the most mundane of child development. Why should they or the rest of us gape in horror at the next generation posting itself naked on the Internet (both literally and metaphorically). Twitter is just the latest development in the biggest generation gap since rock n’ roll invented teenagers.
Or blame Paris Hilton. She’s always good in a pinch. Twitter, then, is the latest evidence of the Paris Hiltoning of America. Twitter is always on, always looked at, and at a 140 character limit, doesn’t have the capacity to be either deep or meaningful.
Oh well. Who gets hurt?