Tuesday, February 24, 2009

To twit or not to twit?

Okay, I know I will offend some people with this post, forgive me for speaking my mind - but I just don't get it. Yes, I know blogging can be very self-centered, since it is a forum for talking about oneself and bragging - showing everyone how wonderful the blogger is - but for the most part that is not it's main purpose or use. I have found most blogs I have read to be uplifting, informational, encouraging, and wonderful resources for ideas that have inspired many aspects of my home school.
I can even see the advantages of F*cebook (sort of ;)- though I have no desire to participate. I understand how nice it is for families to be able to connect and share photos and their lives with friends and family living far from them, or to allow a person to reconnect with old friends they have not seen in years (though when I hear people talk about it, it sounds a lot like high school all over again - "will -fill in random name- 'friend' me?" or "did you see what -fill in random name- is doing this weekend, can you believe WE weren't invited!"). But, when it comes to "tw*tter" I am still not seeing the advantages. The name alone is more than I can take - could I really not feel silly thinking "oh, I need to tw*tter this"? At least the founders of tw*tter were honest in what this creation was when giving it a name. Here are a few definitions taken from Webster's online.

1. to utter successive chirping noises
2. to talk in a chattering fashion

1. to utter rapid short sounds suggestive of language but inarticulate and indistinct (like squirrels)
2.to talk idly, incessantly, or fast

1. an act of twitting
2. a silly, annoying person

To "tw*tter" also requires me to believe that everyone really cares where I am at every moment, or wants to know where I will be getting my takeout from this evening. It reminds me of the quote - not sure who said it first - "You wouldn't worry so much about what people thought of you if you realized how rarely they really are thinking about you!" We worry all the time about what someone meant when they said something, or whether someone is judging us, or talking about us, when most of the time, we don't even cross their mind. Now, our ego centrism has reached the point that we believe the world wants to know where we are at any given moment, and what we are thinking.
Perhaps the most disturbing thing about it is that it magnifies the problem I have always had with email. I love email, I love to be able to send someone a quick note about something, but I have also learned that each word must be selected carefully, since there is no way to convey tone. I would never have a serious discussion over email, since too often meaning can be misunderstood, feelings hurt, and black and white words on a page can often look much harsher than the writer intended. Now, combined with texting, we have a form of communication that restricts the number of words, and is designed to give a direct path from impulse thought to "speech". I am not even going to go into the impact this will have on future generations and their interpersonal communication skills, grammar and spelling abilities. It allows (encourages) the "twitterer" (I will stop short from calling them "twits" :) to send what you are feeling or thinking at that instant, without any thought to content. There is no "proofreading," no editing of the brain. It is pure impulse communication. I am reminded of the warnings in scripture of the dangers of the unbridled tongue. "But I say to you that every idle word men may speak they will give account of it in the Day of Judgment" (Matthew 12:37). How much more dangerous our world is now, as we are able to spill out meaningless, thoughtless communication not merely to the person standing directly in front of us, but to anyone who is bored enough to "follow" us. How much more self focused will we become as a society, when we are constantly being told that everyone around us is interested in every aspect of our lives? How much more self-important will we feel because we get replies to our tweets? (How many more words will be bumped from the children's dictionary to make room for the new "twitter" vocabulary - how appropriate we have lost the words "bishop" and "chapel" to make room for "celebrity" and "MP3 Player"). I realize that technology is a magnificent tool, and to survive in our world today, we must understand it and participate in some degree. I am sure there are some positive uses for this technology - and I do not want to condemn the individual who chooses to participate. But I think it says a lot about the world we live in today.

I often stop and wonder what it would look like if we could actually see all of the invisible wireless messages travelling throughout the world - all the emails, texts and tweets that are constantly flying overhead. Imagine what the air around us would look like. Imagine what the sky would look like. In my mind I picture this writhing mass of black Times New Roman type, swirling around, causing far more pollution in our world than any "carbon footprint."


Erin said...

For the record, I don't do that Twit thing, but I do FB. And I agree with much of what you are saying. However, I think what does drive a lot of it is the convenience of communicating with family and friends who are far away. As a member of a family in which we all are dispersed over many miles, I know how much it means to get quick updates to know that someone got home safely, or that a nephew took his first step. My family does this communication with a private blog, and not with social networks, but I can see the use of these networks when used with good privacy controls (which I'm hyper about on FB). How I wish these things had existed when I was living overseas and had to wait a week to even talk to my parents on the phone at the time agreed upon weeks before. So, while I think the internet can be completely out of control, I also wonder if your perspective will change if you ever have kids dispersed over many miles. (Now, that opens a whole other issue about our global culture, but that's a topic for a separate blog.)

Erin said...

Oh, also I do have to say, that as a parent I find the overly-public nature of today's culture to be very disturbing and I'm struggling with how to begin to address these issues about the internet with my kids.

elizabeth said...

much to think about.

Seraphima said...

I don't get twitter either. I don't get many of these newer social networking things, though. It's nice to know that I'm not alone in that!

Ashley said...

I don't get the twitter thing either. Maybe I just don't have anything exciting to "tweet" about! When it comes to texting and the like, I do worry about the future. It seems that no one wants to talk anymore! There is no conversing. I am even saddened about the lost art of letter-writing. Being the child of a teacher and a journalist/priest has probably made me a little snobbish when it comes to writing, but I feel like the expression in written communication is all but extinct.

Rachael said...

After a brief stint with another social networking site, I have withdrawn from all that in favor of blogging. Tweeting drives me nuts, and I must say that it is disturbing to me that so many people(someone I love quite dearly included) think the rest of the world is THAT interested in what they are doing. So, while I love email due to the convenience, I despise texting, tweeting, etc. because of the tendency to wander grammatically and like you said, the lack of self-censoring on the part of the general public. Ah, the cancer of our society is aptly named "narcissisism".