Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Twouble with Twitter

Tweet! Tweet! Tweedle-dee-dee!
Have you heard the word, bird? Have you caught the A-Twain? Have you joined the chorus of rockin' robins clustered round the tweetin' tree?

That, right, dear readers! With a rollings of drums, with a fanfare of twumpets, we bring you the blessed new awakening, the latest, greatest innovation of social networking for the young'n'hip folk...

TWITTER! The newest....thing! The place to be, the fad to follow, the latest entry in the list of requirements for web-savvy-ness!  If you want to be somebody in dubya-dubya-dubya-dot land, ya gotta tweet! Everyone's on Twitter now - from Tintin to Terwillinger, from Thomas Hardy to Lionel Twilling - there's not a Tom, Dick or Barry in this town hasn't logged onto the prevailing wisdom -- if you don't tweet, you're a twit. If you don't get with the program...if you don't sprout some feathers and join the chorus of avian chatter... you're a mere Strong Bad mired in the past, still swooning over electronic mail and four-color text adventure games!

What? Dost mine ears deceive me? You're not on Twitter yet? Gasp! Faith and Begorrah! Well, you lucked out today, boyo! It's a good thing you found the fishfist blog, 'cause I'm  willing to offer, free of (unreasonable) charge, my own little tutorial in Twitter, which you can complete in less than a minute!

Twicks of the Twade

1. Twitter is best thing since bagels. If you don't use Twitter, you're a four-scoop doosh sundae with a side order of doosh.

2. You'll never figure out how to use it properly. you'll probably sign up, make one tweet and forget about it.

3. It's okay. That's what everybody does.

The twouble with twitter (as I switch from mock-huckster to my usual subtle irony) is twofold.

First of all, Twitter is one of those ideas which honestly seems good at the time: a way to send out short bursts of info to the public. You used to text your friends - now you can text the whole internet! Nothing you do or think needs to be private! The ultimate in self-publishing!

The problem, of course, is that some things should be private. If blogs have taught us anyting, it's that some people's thoughts should have been kept locked up in their brains. (Yes, I know what you're thinking. Shut up.) But Twitter is even worse, because you can tweet from anywhere your cell phone has coverage - in other words, anywhere unless you have AT&T. Is this really neccesary? Do we really need everyone starring in their own personal Twuman Show?

(1 minute ago) Wow is that a lollipop stick? dont remember eating that.
(2 minutes ago) Pushing hard...gritting my teeth...done!
(3 minutes ago) Guess what I'm sitting on! hint: it starts with "sh" and rhymes with twitter!

I ask you, dear reader: is it a better world when things like this are possible? And I'm not talking about that lollipop stick.

Second...Twitter's appeal is that it's simple. Or is it? Twue, it's very easy to set up an account. But what then? You sit and send out inane messages to nobody in particular. You have a handful of followers. In order to actually communicate with people, you got to learn a new set of arcane hieroglyphic techniques: hashtags....@ URLS... These all acting as a sort of Gate of Twuth, blocking the unitiated from ascending to the higher ranks of Twitterdom. Some branches on the tweeting twee are higher than others.

Now, I only mock those whom I love (which explains a long trail of broken relationships). It's true, I tweet myself, under two monikers: as myself and as Christian M. Frank, the author of the John Paul 2 High Books. And it also must be said, also, that Twitter has performed a noble service to freedom by enabling the dissedents in Iran to be heard (to see what I mean, click here or just go to and search for #iran). There are few websites that can claim to do so much.

So the jury's still out on Twitter. It remains to be seen whether it will become another stunning achievement of internet accomplishments, a la Facebook or Homestar Runner... or sink down into the dustbin of useless websites like this or this or this. Time will tell.

One thing's for certain: I'm never gonna figure out what a hashtag is.

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