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Trendspotter: Twitter

BY HANNAH LAWRENCE | MARCH 27, 2009 7:30 AM

It’s hard to believe Twitter — something that even gives us pleasure when we say it out loud — is the devil. But this week’s hottest twend — I mean trend — is as hellish as Krispy Kreme donuts and those rubber shoes with holes in them, whose name I dare not write.

The creators of Twitter want us to believe it can make our lives better by allowing us to stay connected with our friends, family, and coworkers through exchanging quick and frequent answers to the question “What are we/you doing?” And with such great lingo, courtesy of the Twictionary — a single update is a “Tweet,” a Tweet posted by an intoxicated person is a “Dweet,” “chirpes” is a canarial disease that is untreatable, and a “Fatal Attwaction” is when a person on Twitter stalks other users — to go along with the pretty logo of a white dove on a tree, it seems very enticing. But I’m not fooled.

Twitter perpetuates self-absorption. Now you, too, can be presumptuous enough to believe your worldly significance is so great that other people need to know what you are doing exactly when you do it. I know my friends continually wonder, “Gee, is an anonymous person stuck in an airport, buying groceries, or exhausted after mowing the lawn?” Twitter allows all nobodys to think they are somebodys. News flash, twits (or foolish Twitterers): Unless your name is Kanye West, Anderson Cooper, or Barack Obama, no one cares if you were just stuck in an elevator for three hours.

Twitter’s website claims the tool is a useful service because “basic updates are meaningful to family members, friends, or colleagues — especially when they’re timely.” The page then provides some sample Tweets — eating soup, running late to a meeting, and partying. It assigns a profound amount of importance to actions that aren’t worthy of any attention at all. I certainly don’t care when anyone I know eats soup, is running late (and I certainly wouldn’t log in to Twitter to check the status of absent colleagues before calling them to ask where the hell they are) or is partying, because chances are if you are on Twitter instead of partying like you say you are, it’s probably a pretty uneventful fiesta.

Twitter’s worst offense is pretending to be “the modern antidote to information overload.” Is that possible, seeing as Twitter lets us answer the question “What are you doing?” as many times as we want? How can a service that encourages us to write down everything we do, everywhere we go, and everyone we meet be putting a stop to any kind of information overload? Twitter isn’t stopping an information overload — it is pouring cans of gasoline on it, putting newspaper under it, and lighting a match.

I guess I’m just Twitterphobic, an illtwitterate puntwit throwing a twantwam.


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