Today In Twitterverse: Opposing Arguments

I appreciate that Misha Cornes of Organic has stuck his neck out by declaring that he’s “over Twitter.”
Her reasoning is sound:

Most people are not that interesting.
There, I said it. Overall, the culture of self-promotion embedded in most social media applications bothers me. I know that listening to “life between blogs post and emails” is supposed to bring me closer to my Twitter friends, but I don’t want to hear about their minutiae any more than I want to report on my own. The time you spend away from people is what allows you to be interesting to each other again.
Twitter takes bite-sized content about three bites too far.
Have you ever read the transcript of a Twitter conversation? It’s like reading the notes that get passed back and forth in class. If blogs are bite-sized versions of newspaper-length articles, tweets are one-liners. And as Gertrude Stein quipped, “literature is not remarks”. I like to get the benefit of people’s reasoned opinions, not their spontaneous outbursts.
Twitter feels distancing even as it connects me to others.
I think the main positive benefit of Twitter – promoting weak social bonds between loosely connected groups- actually allows people to maintain their space and reduces real intimacy. In this great article about the parallels between behaviors like friending and more ancient forms of oral communication, cultural anthropologist Michael Wesch notes that there’s a “fundamental distance” to social networks. “That distance makes it safe for people to connect through weak ties where they can have the appearance of a connection because it’s safe.”
With Twitter, each of us shouts into the void to the community at large, rather than taking the risk of speaking directly to one another. Tweets, if you can consider them personal communications at all, are a declaration of existence rather than an invitation to engage in a conversation.

If we are to buy into Wesch’s “fundamental distance” theory of social networks and Cornes’ three-part analysis, the game’s up. I know I’m tempted to buy it. Where are you in this debate?



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.