TwitterEveryone’s in LOVE with Twitter. Yes, everyone’s a-twitterin’ and a-twatterin’ away on their computers, cell phones, blackberries, iPhones, abacuses, chalkboards, stone tablets, and papyrus scrolls. The media’s doing it. Hell, Congress is even doing it. Everybody’s tweeting, or twittering, or twatting, twitting, twooting, twutooting, whatever…

The first reason to hate Twitter: the overly cutsie name. It’s hard to believe we now live in a world where grown people talk about “tweeting”. It’s enough to announce to the whole world for no particular reason, “Hey, everyone who barely knows me and barely cares about what I’m doing, this is what I’m doing right this minute!” It’s enough to say, “!” It’s enough to shout out, “I want to gossip about nothing important and feverishly typing away on my cell phone gives me a euphoric sense of self-satisfaction that…oh, wait a minute, this is so much fun I think I’m cumming!” But to call it “tweeting” gives it that special “retarded” touch.

And Twitter wallows in the mundane and the superficial. Take Facebook for instance. How many friends do you have on Facebook? Now how many “actual” friends do you have in real life? Is there a disconnect? Probably. Be honest. That’s the nature of social networks. We want to connect through them, but they are public by nature and so it is almost impossible to be oneself fully and therefore connect in a genuine way. Take being on camera for instance. When you are on camera, you act different. You put up a front. You play the part of yourself. Because you’re exposed. Social networks are much the same way. Many of us act different on social networks because they in their own way shine a spotlight on us. And as a result, they are anti-social. Because we are not wholy ourselves, we are encumbered from making true connections online.

I am reminded of the old days of IRC. In those heady days when people got online, entered chatrooms, and gabbed with random people they’ve never met, you had a sense of anonymity. You could be whoever you wanted. You could say whatever you wanted. You could be a lover, you could be a smoker, you could even be a midnight toker. And ironically, people are more themselves that way. It’s when your imagination runs wild that you reveal the most about yourself. Nowadays, people no longer have that anonymity. Instead you see people building up their individual profiles, driving up their friend numbers, and generally putting up a face to the world. We get so easily wrapped up in the superficiality of the medium, that we lose sight of ourselves.

The last reason for hating Twitter stems from hype. I’ve heard everything about Twitter. How it has/will change the way humans communicate. How it fundamentally alters your life. How it is a game changer for the Interweb. It’s 140 characters, people. 140 fucking characters! It’s a glorious way to say to the world, “I just typed less than 140 characters!!!” Like all social networks, it’s built on the presumption that the world cares. The world doesn’t care. I’m sorry to have to break it to you. The world does not care! Sure, maybe you’ll touch the life of some migrant worker in Central Zimbabwe with your stunning review of the bag of popcorn you just ate, but that just seems really unlikely.

Ultimately, most people want the web to change our lives. I am reminded of the philosophy discussion group I ran for a while. People clambered for an online discussion and someone finally put up a forum on their site for people to participate in philosophical discussions online. Almost no one participated and it eventually died. Why? I think it’s because you lose the dialog. Admittedly, this is where I think Twitter has the ability to shine. It allows you to have dialogs — albeit badly. Dialogs allow you to connect. But dialogs are hinged on immediacy. When you don’t have the immediacy, everyone having the short attention spans that they do will move onto something else. And there’s nothing social about that.