When does microblogging your life take over your life? Sifting through the swamp of spam

by Knowlton Thomas | Culture

microI recently came across a column in a prominent national paper, The Globe and Mail, that made be fear for society.

Lisan Jutras was the author of "Twidows," a column outlining a study that she emphasizes with her own opinion: in essence, "tweeting" grants users as great of pleasure as real-life acts of conversation and positive social engagement. But the "researcher" conducted a faulty, unprofessional, unscientific study that should never have been written about in the first place. Then the author also misquoted the statistics of this "study." And, furthermore, the author promoted what can only be identified as a lifestyle where satisfcation is extracted primarily from internet-based acts, such as tweeting, which "may be physically hollow but [is] incredibly fulfilling."

Not everything in the column I oppose - she noted how fun it was to microblog on the G20 Summit, which is a valid point. That event revealed how effective Twitter can be and providing minute-by-minute micro-updates from those at the scene of action. That is, when it's not swamped with spam.

However, what's with all this tweeting-is-like-sex babble? It's a great medium for link-feeds and live-action updates, but admitting you're addicted - and then embracingly loving it - is not the sort of trend I'd like to see growing. 

I know I'm not alone, because the the column garnered its fair share of comments, most of them scathing (and that's being gentle). 

When does microblogging your life take over your life? If you're jumping onto the 'net as soon as you're home to let everyone know, "I'm home!" then that's a problem. A study last year suggested close to a half of all tweets are "pointless," with just under a third being "conversational," and less than one-in-ten representing any "value" worth passing along. Can't you have pointless conversations with people in, you know, real life?

How many people care about the ingredients of your sandwich? Probably not as many as who care about local efforts for eco-sustainability, emerging innovative technologies, and the best hiking trails to explore nature (do you remember that word?). There are a lot of microbloggers whose audience is basically just them because they don't actually offer any substance. Suddenly, the situation is that everyone is a "content generator" and nobody is the reader or listener. 

Thanks for the G20 updates, but once you tweet about your laundry, I'm unfollowing you. Think I care that your whites got mixed with reds? Don't Flattr yourself - I know I won't.

San Francisco, California, United States

Twitter is a privately funded startup with offices in the SoMA neighborhood of San Francisco, CA. Started as a side project in March of 2006, Twitter has grown into a real-time short messaging service that works over multiple networks and devices. In countries all around the world, people follow the sources most relevant to them and access information via Twitter as it happens—from breaking... more

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Knowlton Thomas

Knowlton Thomas

Knowlton is the managing editor of Techvibes and author of Tempest Bound. Based in Vancouver, Knowlton has been published in national publications and has also appeared on television and radio. Previously he was an editor for New Westminster weekly The Other Press and served on its board of directors. When not working, Knowlton enjoys hiking, tennis, and martial arts. more

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