I think we all need a break from the drama of this past week. I have written extensively about da trumpeter, and I need a break. However, all roads, as they say, lead back to Rome, or in this case Trump, eventually. Today’s topic? As the title suggests, today’s topic is Twitter.
“Twitter, the well-known but less-well-used social network of 140-character quips about the news, is polarizing. You’re either an addict, or you don’t get it.” – Farhad Monjoo, New York Times, 12 November 2016
I am one of those who ‘just don’t get it’. I have a Twitter account (@GrannieJ) that I never use, though I do post my blog there, and some people actually do ‘follow’ me, which I find rather creepy. The main thing I don’t ‘get’ about Twitter is the 140-character limitation. I don’t have thoughts of 140 characters or less. Virtually all my thoughts happen in a minimum of 1,000 characters, as evidenced by some of my uber-long sentences. The other thing I don’t get is why people think that the world, or even their friends, are interested in every little passing thought they have, or what they had for lunch. And I have to wonder how people have time to tweet all these random and meaningless thoughts! Personally, I have too much to do. What … do people just sit around waiting for a thought to pop into their heads and say, “OH … a thought … I must tweet this so that all my friends will know I had a thought!”
During 2016, much of the world’s news was covered in real-time on Twitter. Live coverage of the presidential debates? Twitter. San Bernardino and Paris and Brexit and Scalia and the Cubs … Twitter. Not to mention that if you really cared what the latest foul things to come from Donald Trump’s mind at 3:00 a.m. were … Twitter. More and more of late I find that when I am researching a topic, I often end up directed to a series of tweets, rather than a nice text article. Sigh. Perhaps I am old-school, but I find that short blips containing those annoying #hashtags are not conducive to serious thought.
But the end may be near. According to the New York Times article, “As a business, Twitter had not been having a good run before the presidential election reached its spectacular conclusion. New users aren’t joining the service and longtime denizens have been using it less. When Twitter tried to sell itself this fall, nobody wanted to buy it.” Apparently, Google, Apple, and Salesforce were all looking at the company, but none decided to buy, sending Twitter’s stock plunging. The reasons cited were that Twitter isn’t growing fast enough, it doesn’t make enough money, and it is overrun by trolls, morons, and bullies. I would also suggest that it is one of those things that, like Hula-hoops and bell-bottom pants, the novelty is simply wearing off.
Created in 2006 by Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass, Biz Stone, and Evan Williams, Twitter now has more than 310 million monthly active users. Seriously??? That is almost equivalent to the entire population of the U.S.! People really are bored, aren’t they? According to Wikipedia, “On Election Day 2016, Twitter proved to be the largest source of breaking news, with 40 million tweets sent by 10 p.m. that day.” I got my updates from the Guardian and New York Times.
With much going on this year, the 2016 election, refugee crisis, the coup in Turkey, populist candidates in Europe (LePen, Hofer, etc), there has been much to tweet about, but can Twitter remain popular into the future? My blogger-friend Erik Hare of Barataria wrote an article on this last month and he says, “The problem with twitter is a simple one. It’s something like a news ticker for everyone, which is to say anyone can put out any kind of news they want. There is no filter, no organization, and certainly no way to say anything substantial. There has never been anything useful on it.” I tend to agree. Check out his article … Twitter Must Die! (and it will)
Trump has been enamoured of Twitter this year, but one hopes he will find more traditional venues for expressing his thoughts after he takes office. That, I imagine, will be another nail in the coffin of Twitter. Twitter itself is not the problem, but the way people use it is annoying and even, at times, offensive. But then, that is the nature of social media these days. I resisted joining Facebook for four years until 2008 when my granddaughter convinced me I would enjoy playing Farmville with her. Today, I am considering going back to a life without Facebook. These days, it seems that all social media are not much more than a venue for people to vent, to proliferate hate and turmoil, and some days the cost outweighs the benefit.
We … well, some of us anyway … bemoan the fact that civil discourse and intelligent conversation seems to be a thing of the past. I wonder if things like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter might not be part of the cause. Granted, education, or the lack thereof, plays the greater role, but when people get in the habit of speaking their minds with no filter in short, 140-character blips, and using acronyms rather than whole sentences, it seems to me that it inhibits sensible conversations. There are even endless lists of acronyms, in case you do not understand what your friend meant when he said ‘ANFSCD’! (and now for something completely different). That said, if Twitter goes by the wayside, no doubt it will be replaced by something equally bizarre. Those of us who are still capable of coherent thoughts longer than 140 characters, will continue to soh. (Shake our heads)