Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I'm No Luddite, but Still ...

I've become quite tired of the whole "Twitter Phenomenon" apparently sweeping the nation. It seems that now every politician, celebrity, and millions of regular people are "twittering" their heads off all day long.in 140 character bursts of banality, but honestly, to what end? Mind you, I'm one of those people who had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the cell phone age (and only for work purposes) ... but don't get me wrong, I'm not a Luddite, really! I was a very early adopter of most computer technology (way back in 1984) and have been amazed at how far we have come in terms of how computers can enhance and improve our daily lives. After all, I blog!

But this "Twitter Mania" is getting a little out of hand, and I view it much the same way I do the texting phenomenon -- as a supreme waste of time and effort. What's the attraction, really, of punching a tiny keyboard on a cell phone or Blackberry to send telegraphic, poorly spelled message bursts? Haven't these people ever heard of Instant Messaging Clients? I used to be a huge fan of IMing and spent many hours conversing with people from all over the world, and until I finally tired of it (or lost track of people), it was a great little technology, and still is. Hey TwitterHeads, a lot of those work on cell phones too ... so why the Twittering? As the French would say, Cela me dépasse totalement! (It's just totally beyond me!)

My entire life I've been one to avoid passing fads of all kinds, so I suppose that has something to do with it. I was a born curmudgeon and as I've gotten older, I've mellowed a lot, but still have to lash out from time to time, and coming across this amusing video from Current TV (Al Gore's channel) tonight finally made me speak up here on this subject, on my own personal creaky soapbox. (h/t to dday posting at Political Animal tonight) Take a look at this very funny cartoon (it's about 4 min long) and you can see why I decided to post it (btw, I'd be the guy in the cube on the left) ... so I wonder if this means that even the techie twenties types are starting to tire of it as well? If so, I commend them for their good sense! Anyway, click the image to watch the video....

As for my own "TwitterPhobia," I suppose I could follow my own usual advice about such things and just say ignore it all, but it's becoming increasingly harder to do that when even the regular news and politics programs I watch are featuring a "Tweet" segment (please, David Shuster, give it up! I like you dude!) and now we're seeing it pop up in such ridiculous venues as a "Twitter Interview" with John McCain ... come on! Not that I really expect anything approaching legitimate substance from the likes of him, but the whole concept is beyond weird ... it's just plain absurd.

Then there's the whole issue of the identity of the "Twitterers" ... Keith Olbermann did a piece last week on Countdown where he revealed that someone is impersonating him on Twitter and has several thousand followers (or whatever they're called). Who's to say whose "Tweets" you are really reading? Are John McCain's really posted by some staffer? (I think that might be a good bet, given that last fall he didn't know how to "Google.") Are you really privy to Paris Hilton's intimate (vacuous) thoughts? In many ways, it's an outgrowth of Instant Messaging, only more truncated ... that "HotChickDoubleD21" at the other end could well be a middle-aged, cross-dressing fat dude for all you know, so it's all a leap of possibly misguided faith after all. Caveat emptor.

Is this what communication has come down to in this brave new world of 2009? Besides the dumbing down and ruding up of people caused by cell phones over the last decade, we've gone one step further and completely reduced meaningful communication to "Tweets?" Twittering is for the birds -- literally. And should you ever hear any twittering on this blog, it will be that of the birds!

Disclaimer and an advance apology to a good blogging buddy:
I spent many years of my life mastering several languages and have the advanced degrees to prove it, so this is part of my resistance to technologies that I think "dumb down" language usage. During the numerous years I taught at the university level, I was appalled at how little regard students had for correct usage and spelling, considering it an unnecessary "nicety" of expressing themselves. Obviously, I disagreed and tried my best to convince them that how they expressed themselves in writing was indeed a demonstration of their intelligence, and with the advent of spell checkers (imperfect as they are) there was no excuse for misspelling basic words. As you might imagine, this led to much frustration, and ended up being one of the reasons I left the teaching profession, as much as I loved it. Rather than become bitter and totally disillusioned, I bailed ... for better or worse. (Well, yes, there were other reasons too, but this would have gotten to me eventually.) So there, sorry about the rant, but this little cartoon gave me hope that others out there feel similarly, so you can blame Super News for this post!

And now for the apology ... my good buddy FARFetched has had a Twitter feed on his blog for over a year or so now, and by no means do I direct any of this criticism his way, because obviously he finds some value in it, and after all, he's much more of an early adopter than I am, something I admire greatly in him. Maybe he can convince me that I'm just being grumpy about this subject....

27 comments:

Roses and Lilacs said...

IVG, IMHO, this is something to amuse people with way too much time one their hands. Personally, I always have something to do...too much to do. I don't have time for long phone conversations, twitter, text messaging, etc. And if I did have some time and could choose between twitter and taking photos, reading a book, planting some seeds, doing my taxes, etc, well, I'd choose anything but twitter. I don't feel a need to be 'connected' 24/7.
Marnie

Beth said...

IVG - thank you for stopping by my blog and your kind words. I would imagine - as you had mentioned - that your friend in Fargo is probably very busy sandbagging, shoveling snow or just plain praying for this to be over! We appreciate all the well wishes we've received from all over the world. It is blizzarding like you can't believe - and the sad thing is - I have to work still! :O( Not sure how much longer I will stay - I would feel better being close to home and making sure we stay safe. Thanks again for visiting. I'll stop by again.
P.S. I tried Twitter but I don't know what the heck I'm doing! Blogging and Facebook is about as adventurous as I get. Take care!

Beth

CONEFLOWER said...

Hot diggety dog!! You are supreme in the art of self expression! No wonder I enjoy all you write so much! And I couldn't agree with you more about twitter. I have a twitter thingy but I rarely go to it. I got an email that some gardening twitter thingy is now following my twitter. What twitter? I don't write on it. BTW how to you like the word "thingy"? It's all a part of our being unable to wait for anything longer than 30 seconds. Thank you McDonald's. We start getting nervous if the wait is longer that even 20 seconds.

Thank you for your rant. It's perfect.

Dog_geek said...

You said it! I've never been able to get into any of that, either - I really just don't see the attraction. And it is amazing how text messaging has crippled students' ability to communicate in writing. I guess I must be getting old!

boran2 said...

IVG, I've never tweeted and probably never will. I'm not on Facebook or any other social networking site. (I'm content with blogging and have managed to keep my sad little blog going longer than others that long ago fell by the wayside.) I need more face to face interactions in my life, not pale imitations of meaningful communication.

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Marnie,
I'm with you on all the reasons one could be be better spending time rather than on Twitter. In particular, I'm really resistant to that idea of being connected 24/7 too, that's why I hated to finally have to accept a cell phone. There are hours in the day that I just don't want to be bothered! That's when I get blogging stuff done!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Beth,
I see you have a new post up now, so I'll have to scoot over and read it....

From what I read/saw today, you folks are in a somewhat stable situation for the moment, though that blizzard can't be helping. I did read that a secondary crest is expected in Mid-April (on Weather Underground), so you're not out of the woods yet, alas!

Stay safe as you can and hang in there! Hoping for the best for you!!

IVG

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Coneflower,
I'm flattered you enjoy my writing, but I did have fun venting on this post, I have to admit!

I have to admit, I do use the word "thingy" on occasion when I can't think of the right word (I usually have the French right there but can't summon the English, lol!) I agree, we have become a nation of short attention spans, and that has concerned me for a long time, but all I can do is keep up and try to do things my way!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Dog Geek,
Thanks! I also agree about what you said about students' inability to communicate properly in writing. Maybe it's me getting old too, but I've been on that particular rant ever since I taught a year in France and I had high school students who were brighter than the college ones I taught at home. Education is taken so much more seriously and funded there than here....

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey B2,
No Facebook, MySpace or any of that for me either and never will ... I too am content with blogging. At least the people who come to my blog share a common interest ... and I would NOT say you have a "sad little blog" at all! You have constant creativity going on at your blog, and that creates value for your readers. Especially the doofuses like me who know nothing about vintage cars! :-)

FARfetched said...

No offense taken… I've always been of the "you do your thing and I'll do mine" school of thought. What amuses me is the sheer volume of invective directed at something that's completely optional… seems like TwitterHate is the latest fashion or something! Last I checked, they're not getting any bailout money… what's the big deal?

You're right, I do find some value in it — and for me its value is in its brevity and mobility. Maybe I'm just lucky, but I don't get a lot of noise tweets ("What's this rubber band doing on my desk?") like the video implies is the bulk of Twitter. If I'm out somewhere and see something interesting, I can tweet it.

I know some people who use it to remind themselves of things they want to talk about in more detail (say, in a blog post) later. Twitpic can also be useful there, by allowing you to upload a pic from your cellphone now & pull it into the blog later. There are also Facebook addicts who use it to update their status (I'm not into Facebook either, talk about a time sink).

But for me, the whole point is that I can devote an odd moment to reading or writing… especially when odd moments are all I have (all too often).

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

The cartoon was hysterical! Twitter has become a marketing tool, beyond being a simple social interaction site. I've heard from a reliable source that a certain TV gardening celebrity wasn't personally tweeting, but had his staffers tweeting in his name. I found that very amusing.

Shady Gardener said...

I'm going to agree completely in that I feel no sense of need to learn about twittering, cheeping, and peeping. ;-) E-mail and blogging is about all the communication I need (outside face-to-face conversation and a letter or two!).
I'm taking time I really don't have to respond..."Hickory Dickory Dock?" ;-)

Family Man said...

Hiya IVG.

That cartoon was great. I've never used Twitter, and I was a hold out of cell phones for a long time. However, I think that was a pretty good rant you gave. :)

Take care

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey FAR,
Glad you weighed in here, because I really did want to get your take on this, so thank you! Sounds like you have found a good use and it fits for your needs, so more power to ya.

I guess what irks me the most is all the politicians thinking it's the newest sliced bread ... most of them are already so idiotic, they don't need any more dumbing down!

Dude, keep on keepin' on!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi MMD,
Glad you liked the cartoon ... I'm going to have to check out that show on Current TV sometime to see if they're all that good.

I agree about it being a marketing tool, but as Americans we have perfected the art of marketing just about anything, so that shouldn't surprise us. (And I should talk, I work in Market Research!)

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Shady,
Maybe when it grows into full throated bird songs I'll sign up!

Yes, indeed ... "Hickory Dickory Dock!" Very good job on deciphering that one ... it used to stump my students for a while then someone would exclaim, OH!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey FM!
Glad you liked the rant ... it's been percolating for a while and seeing that cartoon gave me permission to let loose! I still hate the cell phone but it's a work necessity so I tolerate it. I do refuse to have it on during weekends (unless I'm working) because I need some private time! After all, we do have a new pup to play with....

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