Notes on Twitter.

Social networking online, a concept that essentially allows people to know people they never actually know is undeniably a lot of fun. From Myspace to Facebook to the now ubiquitous little Twitter bird, more and more of us have the ability to access more and more people, more viewpoints, more products, more ideas. These are all part of the newest boon of the information age. I for one could claim addiction to Facebook. And I might then call myself a "social tweeter" as I don't do it as much, but as with any habit it could get very out of hand very quickly. These utilities are wonderful for rebuilding and redesigning old friendships, and (in Twitter's case) honing the lost art of one-liners. Abbott and Costello would've tweeted a mummy movie so fierce they'd have Brendan Fraser rolling over in his grave. (What? Fraser's not dead? My mistake.) But, Twitter is a curious case. Facebook and Myspace have more extensions, more connection with friends, more completeness of profile and yet Twitter is the up and coming Little Mac to "Face-space's" Mike Tyson (Mr. Dream). Why is that? My thoughts splay out before you:

Twitter uses diction that lends a sense of deification upon its users, while simultaneously making them part of a popular crowd. "Followers" connotes that the people attending to the Twitterer's tweets are not friends, but instead a sort of zealous congregation of internet hangers on. And the word "following" gives a Twitterer a feeling of security in the fact that he is part of a larger group of people going in a direction. Simultaneously, the chosen diction imbues godly importance upon the user, while also assuaging any concerns about responsibility. Silly to say, right? But consider the slogan current posted on the homepage for Twitter: "Share and discover what's happening right now, anywhere in the world." I'd venture that knowing what's happening anywhere at anytime qualifies as a type of omniscience, an attribute common to religious deities. And just below the search box on that homepage is a shortlist of popular topics, a mini-guide for users to know what they should attend to and what they should know. I have to applaud the value of Twitter during the Iranian elections, at very least as a tool for better understanding the breadth and complexity of conflict so tightly masked in political rhetoric.

But outside of the linguistic appeal, Twitter is a chance at anonymous fame in a way that "Face-space" no longer can be. On Twitter, the Twitterer can tweet a thought here and there, but never builds a profile or posts photos or laundry lists their various likes, hobbies, email addresses, etc. Through Twitter we can once again take on a persona that doesn't tie directly back into our usual (miserable?) lives of work or school or trying to determine why the dog can't seem to stop peeing whenever I say "Cast Away starring Tom Hanks and Helen Hunt". We crave that anonymity on the internet, and yet, we also crave attention. With Twitter, I can gain a following, and deification aside, I can feel at least slightly famous under the assumption that people on the internet, which is BIG and EXPANSIVE, care what I have to say. And in so tweeting, I can also be my own personal paparazzi delving out tidbits of juicy information about my life that drive my Twitter-ship wild.

Beyond even what I'll call the "Delusion of Fame," Twitter gets you in touch with real famous people. And sometimes, depending on the level of involvement by a celebrity, just reading about them can make you feel like you're right there in the limo (or prostitute) with an actual A-lister. I follow Colin Meloy (of The Decemberists) and author Neil Gaiman and have several times caught myself nearly referring to them in the familiar sense. (i.e. "You'll never guess what Colin tweeted today.") Not to say that this is necessarily wrong, but well, to be completely honest I don't know either of them and likely never will. But someday, maybe when I @so-and-so to a famous person, they'll think what I said was indelibly interesting and decide to tweet on back.

I can dream.

Oh, and you can follow me on Twitter @nateragolia (I know... ironies.)

1 comment:

  1. One day you'll be internet famous like me and all of this will be your crack cocaine.