Wednesday, March 7, 2012

From the vault: Hate Twitter? Fine. Stop being so sanctimonious

Reviving a post from December 2010, in honor of Johnathan Franzen, the Twitter hater.
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


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