I’ve had a Twitter account for a year or so, and I can unequivocally say it’s never once crossed my mind to use it for anything but writing headline-length bites of marginally interesting information about my life.
Sadly this appears to the apex of Tweeting.
For today, thanks to the disgraceful tweeting habits of former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner — the worst of them, apparently were photographic rather than verbal in nature — we now can say that completely useless information is spectacularly transmitted in this way. And it has set me to ruminating on the appropriateness of the name itself: Twitter. I therefore propose that those who habitually misuse Twitter be universally referred to as Twits.
Now, I’m a blogger. I use some of the latest technology to communicate. Hey, I’m doing it right now, and it’s no great revelation.
But the Twitter love, I admit, does escape me — even though I was initially happy it had a bird theme. Usually if something has a bird theme, I’m all over it. Sports teams like the Cardinals? I’m a fan.
The actual mechanics of tweeting remind me of writing headlines. When I was a newspaper reporter I had an irrational love of headline-writing. Most reporters hated it. Me, I liked the economy of words it forced upon a writer. It’s the closest I’ll ever get to being a poet, though believe me, very few of the headlines I ever wrote were particularly poetic.
All right, none of them were.
I also enjoy writing titles for the blog posts I write; unlike headlines, which are written after an article’s done, I write my blog titles first, in hopes that it’ll give the post a tone. Generally I’m going for a low tone — possibly a B-flat. (Insert rimshot.) Not much of an aspiration I’ll admit. But juvenile humor has got to be someone’s specialty, right?
Today I discovered, via Wikipedia, that San Antonio-based market-research firm Pear Analytics analyzed 2,000 tweets (originating from the US and in English) over a two-week period in August 2009 and separated them into six categories. What was the top tweet category?
Pointless babble. A full 40 percent. Pointless.
Yes, Twitter today seems the proper medium for millennial communicators, who want instant delivery of pointless information. Damn the reflection, full speed ahead.
It’s undoubtedly the medium of choice for celebrities, who can instantly communicate their inanities to their followers. It’s also useful for bloggers, she said, calling up the Twitter website, who wish to alert their readers to new posts. (Like how I can so effortlessly lump myself into celebrity category?)
I do have testify to its effectiveness in promotion and marketing work. If you want to get the word out about something your followers are presumably interested in, it’s a quick to say, “hey, look at this.” The information can be seen, digested and squirreled away for later use. Or ignored.
As a writer, I’m dismayed by the prevalence of tweeting; as a reader, I’m grateful that my array of reading choices are longer than twit-length. Out there in the blogosphere, there are insightful, thoughtful posts on a stunning array of absorbing topics. Like shoes. Or punctuation. (Someone needs to tackle these important topics, you know.)
But if current events are any indication, twit-length is the dominant force out here in Internetland.
Sigh. I think I’ll go outside and do some bird-watching until the whole phenomenon passes by.
Be sure and watch for my tweets about it.