Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Rant: Hate Twitter? Fine. Stop being so sanctimonious!

Oh, I don't use Twitter or Tweeter or whatever it's called. I've got too much to do to waste time reading about what somebody else had for lunch!
Are you still making this joke in 2010? If so, I implore you: Stop it. First, passive aggression is beneath you. Yeah, no one misses your implied dig at people who do use Twitter--and who, by your estimation, are lazy gits who have ample time to sit around reading about what other people had for lunch. Secondly, ignorance is nothing to brag about. Describing Twitter as a place where narcissists talk about the minutiae of their lives proves that either you've never actually seen Twitter or that you have no idea how to maximize the use of it.

God save me from sanctimonious Luddites. 

I admit to being a bit of a technophile. I'm not generally a first adopter, but I do enjoy my iPhone, my Kindle and my laptop and the freedom they give me. It's perfectly okay if you don't have, need or want these things. I simply don't understand the idea of making a virtue out of not wanting them. Read comments attached to any article about the Kindle and before long a chorus will chime in thusly:

I could NEVER own a Kindle. I am a TRUE book lover. I love the smell of a book. I love the feel of the pages. 

Now I've been a book nerd since I learned to read, but until the appearance of e-readers I had never heard fellow bibliophiles describe reading in near-pornographic terms. So much smelling and licking and touching! Perhaps I'm not doing this reading thing the right way. More importantly, since when is library humping a sign of literary superiority?

Luddites have this uncanny ability to make their disinterest in technology proof of their evolved character and the trivial nature of everyone else. So too, the technophobe's first cousin, the social media foe.

Back to Twitter and its haters...

Last week Pew Research Center released results from a study on Twitter usage. Many of the demographic findings were interesting. For instance, eight percent of online Americans use Twitter. Minority internet users are more than twice as likely to use Twitter as are white internet users. Hispanics (Pew's term) are Twitter's most likely users. Women and the college-educated are also slightly more likely than average to use the service. But why waste time on these boring statistics when there is now actually hard data, like science or something, that proves Twitter is just a haven for the self-absorbed. From Jezebel:
A new study finds that people are using Twitter to fuel their own narcissism and don't really give a flying fuck about what other people are doing, thinking, or feeling. Hm. How can I make this more about me? Read more...
Heavy sigh...

Nice willful misinterpretation of data to make a lazy point about Twitter. The post refers to the Pew finding that barely a quarter of Twitter users check the site multiple times a day for updates from other people. Now, one could take issue with the way Pew asked this question. Most people I know access Twitter through third-party software on their phone or computer. Personally, I never check the Twitter website for updates from other people, because HootSuite and Tweetdeck mean I don't need to. I can easily see posts from others in the same window where I am posting.

But smugly trumpeting information that you think proves your superiority is much more fun than checking survey methodology. And in the comments section of the Jezebel post, it is interesting how some folks make a concerted effort to ignore information that doesn't fit their "me awesome/you narcissist" narrative. Like, for isntance, comments from Haitian Americans who say that Twitter is the best way for them to get news from home. Thank goodness there are tweeting commenters like Mari_with_revolution to give smuggies the business:
It bothers me how non-twitter users like to be patronizing and kind of place themselves into a binary class system where they are "superior" to twitter users. Not everyone on twitter is a narcissist, just like not everyone on facebook is your old rival from high school posting pictures of her infant son non-stop. Stop telling us we suck just because we use a media platform you don't. 
There are multiple useful/non self-involved reasons to have/use twitter- if you don't care to look up these reasons, that's fine, but don't use that (apathy) as a reason to automatically claim the reasons don't exist.

I love social media--Twitter especially. I use it as a conduit to like-minded people, to patch in to great thinkers (@PauloCoehlo, @MHarrisPerry), to keep up with my favorite bloggers, to explore things I love (genealogy, writing, books), as a source for news and information, and for fun (There is nothing like watching HBO's "True Blood" with a bunch of other fans on Twitter. And @pattonoswalt and @kevinhart4real are often as funny on Twitter as they are on stage). 

The immediacy of the conversation on Twitter can't be beat. A couple weeks ago, my cousin Robin let me know via Facebook chat that Toni Morrison and Angela Davis were on C-Span BookTV. I was so enthralled with what these amazing women were saying that I began live tweeting their talk, which resulted in a wonderful, impromptu discussion of feminism and race with my Twitter followers. It was enlightening, informative and (I don't think) at all narcissistic.

This is all just me though. There is no more honor in my use of Twitter than there is in not using it. You say you couldn't care less about Twitter? You prefer face-to-face contact or pen and paper or quill and ink or carrier pigeon? That's all good. Everyone is entitled to their communication preferences. You just don't have to be an asshole about it.

Photo Credit: Matt Hamm


Kelly Hogaboom said...

Twitterhate seems to be sort of snark for snark's sake. Hey, I can *say* all this truthy stuff about lazy narcissitic Twitterusers that no one cares about, so why not?

Also, good call on the Pew "study":

Most people I know access Twitter through third-party software on their phone or computer. Personally, I never check the Twitter website for updates from other people, because HootSuite and Tweetdeck mean I don't need to. I can easily see posts from others in the same window where I am posting.

I have several accounts and use Tweetdeck so I'd be another statistic show up as tweeting TONS but "never" checking anyone else's tweets through the site.

As a Twitter user who absolutely curates and carefully combs through those she's following - as well as uses saved hashtag searches - thanks for representing.

Also, you've got a flair for some good comedic speech! You had me smiling.

Tei Tetua said...

Huh. Bet I don't hate Twitter as much as you hate people who hate Twitter.


Tami I laughed when I read about your description of bibliophiles and their near "pornographic" description of their preference for books. A group of us baby boomers were sitting around discussing our ambivalence about these dynamic technological advances. There is always something new or better. We are eventually forced to use some of them because of our careers and there are others that we find it somewhat harder to accept.

Our group of bibliophiles were discussing the merits of a Kindle and why some of us are so resistant to it. I'm going to have to direct them to this post. Lugging around books on the planes, trains and cabs have resulted in the lost of these treasures and a lot of replacement funding going on. A Kindle is actually a lot more convenient and can be secured well in most purses or totes without hurting your shoulders. I guess I can read (I don't smell/stroke/hug them):-) my books at home in one of my most comfortable recliners.

There is, however, another kind of bias. There was one in the group who spoke of an incident on a commuter when she pulled out her Cornel West Reader (a tome of sorts) and the disdainful look on a Kindle user as she nosily looked for an essay that she wanted to read at that time. (The index didn't help for some reason)We weren't sure if it was the noise or the book or both.

I LIKE your blogs and recently I read one of your posts on Psychology Today, another one of my favorite sites.

msladydeborah said...

I have to agree with you about social media, Tami. There is nothing wrong with the medium. I have had the opportunity to meet interesting people, learn some useful information and to have a good time via social media.

Kindle will eventually be in my posession. I love to read and it is just one more way for me to do something that I enjoy. I love books, but I have never felt the urge to be that intimate with any story that I am reading. I hope to never cross paths with someone who is into this type of act.

irna79 said...

Tami, I had almost this exact response to that post at Jezebel. Or really anywhere I encounter people who don't understand the point of Twitter and treat their ignorance as proof positive that it's stupid. Following people like you, I learn so much! When I first realized I was depressed, having followed Bassey gave me a human connection I desperately needed and lacked IRL. I started running because of the PostBourgie running challenge tweets.

All of that to say, it's cool if you don't use Twitter or want to, but for crying out loud, have a better reason than assumed narcissism of people who've embraced it!

Kristen {RAGE against the MINIVAN} said...

Love this post! We made it our read of the day on ShePosts. Hope that's okay.


Palaverer said...

So because you don't feel that connection to paper books, the rest of us must be making it up? Who's being smug now?

One of my favorite places to read is in the bath. I'd rather risk soaking a $10 paperback than an expensive electronic devise.

TheFeministBreeder said...

Hear, Hear!

On Monday I got on Twitter and made one small statement: "Where is my shutterfly order?"

Within ONE hour, I had been contacted by BOTH UPS and Shutterfly on Twitter, found that there had been a shipping error, and my shipping charges were refunded to me. Do you know how long it would have taken to get to the bottom of that by starting to make phone calls? It might STILL not be resolved. And who wants to be on the phone when you have screaming kids in the house?

That's just the last of many, MANY times that twitter has made me money or kept cash in my pocket. People who think Twitter is useless are completely clueless. Adopt, or don't, but there's no prize for staying off it. That just means more customer service reps listening to ME!

Tami said...

Glad this post struck a chord with so many folks!

Palaverer--I hope it was clear that many parts of this post were tongue and cheek. I appreciate books, too: Fresh pages...uncracked spines...My annoyance is with people who think a preference for these things, to the exclusion of digital books, makes them intellectually and morally superior. I am not superior for owning an e-reader; you are not superior for NOT owning one.

Tami said...


Thank you! I am honored.

Palaverer said...

Tami, I didn't perceive it as tongue in cheek (this is my first visit to your site--from Shakesville). Thanks for clarifying that.

Tami said...


Well, thank you for visiting. Hope you stick around.


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