Social networking sites used to be kind fun. It was an easy and free way to let old friends find you, a way to possibly find a mate, or just to keep in touch with your online buddies without having to email everybody. Then MySpace came along, and suddenly every single person on the planet had a platform for saying (almost) whatever they want and connect to everyone else. People post every detail about their lives and try to amass as many “friends” as possible because it makes one look popular. Where could it possibly go from here?
Introducing Twitter, where you can post what you’re doing right now. That’s right, using various methods (SMS, IM, email, etc.) you can let the world know what you’re doing at this very moment. Wow, how infinitely fascinating! Here are some samples of the lives of total strangers, posted mere seconds ago:
- “still have to start on my lab summary due tomorrow.. that sucks”
- “Taking showers in the parking lot of a Flying J. Living in an RV does have advantages.”
- “Just finished a workout. Shoulders today, which rocks.”
- “Going to the zoo, yay!”
- “Anyone thinks that Verafstoot
is going to win the Belgian elections? No one, right? It’s a lost
battle for him. It sure is.”
I was hoping to see something like “I’m shaving my pits” or “My crabs are really bad this week”, but no such luck.
Personally I give less than a shit about what complete strangers are doing, especially from moment to moment. I just don’t find it interesting, and I can’t imagine that anyone would want to read this kind of stuff about me. “I’m brushing my teeth. I’m going to the store. Now I’m making coffee, it’s hazelnut flavor. Whoops, I just farted.” Wow…riveting stuff! What is interesting to me is why other people are so enthralled by this kind of thing. Why do people feel the need to read mundane posts from others they’ll never meet, as well as post their own? Why interrupt your day with this stuff? Is it that important, when you’ve already got email, instant messaging, text messaging, and voicemail to deal with? Talk about overload!
Obviously this company (no doubt fueled by the possibility of big advertising dollars) is cashing in on the whole social networking thing by taking it to the next absurd level. It’s how a lot of products come into the market: create the perception of a need, then create the service to fulfill it. This is stuff that could easily be posted on a dozen other services, but Twitter has convinced people that their moment-to-moment details need to be shared in real time. No doubt it makes them feel somehow more connected, more in touch with others. But are they really?
It seems like kind of a pointless and lonely thing to spend so much time on. Perhaps it’s an indication that people need to disconnect more often. Turn the phone off for a while, pull some plugs. The world doesn’t need to know what each moment brings you, and that’s just fine. You’re allowed to keep some for yourself.