I Can’t Leave Well Enough Alone

For some reason I keep reading the campus paper, even though I know logically that there’s no reason to. It’s immature, inaccurate, and extremely frustrating for anyone who pays attention to anything that happens off campus. And, yet again, I found an article the other day (“Don’t Tweet Me“) that was just too much, and wrote another letter to the editor. (I’m becoming just like Grandpa Simpson, spending all my time writing letters of complaint about things only I care about.) And, to round things out completely (again), they choose not to publish it. Which is, as they say, lame for them, but not for you:

[With regards to Twitter]: While the history of deriding new technologies merely because they are “new” goes back to the “written language vs. oral tradition” argument way back when, I feel that it’s somewhat irresponsible to claim this new one is so incredibly terrible, based on the evidence provided by one study of social networking services. There is so much new information about the human mind and how it relates to technology, that outmoded notions such as this paint the image of a Luddite more than anything else.

In the Februray, 2009 issue of “Discover” magazine, one of the biggest stories was about how Google & other new technologies are actually making humans smarter by presenting information in byte (no pun intended) sized chunks. (“How Google Is Making Us Smarter” Feb. 2009). David Crystal’s new book, “Txtng: The Gr8 Db8,” not only addresses the issues of technophobes who think that technology is ruining our lives, but points out that people who are avid texters tend to be more literate than other people of the same age. Even Steven Johnson’s “Everything Bad Is Good For You” is now almost five years old, and after his hundreds of radio, TV, & news appearances, you would think that the myth that “technology is destroying our children” would long ago have been put to rest.

This opinion piece also misses a huge point about what Twitter is: just because the posts are limited to 140 characters, this doesn’t mean people only read 140 characters of text before they quit. Twitter, like all blogging tools, allow users to subscribe to feeds that offer everything posted to that feed, not just the most recent entry. CNN uses Twitter for their news feeds, and almost every paper with an online presence (including yours) has started using some sort of blogging tool, often big name ones like Twitter. Ashton Kutcher, while vapid and obnoxious himself, makes a good point in asserting that this is encouraging, rather than discouraging, people to read. Most of the current journalism points to that notion as well.

It’s definitely food for thought, anyway. I’m not suggesting that we should all join Twitter, and that it isn’t a sign of shallowness or stupidity. But I do think that it’s a little hypocritical to mock a technology that your paper avidly uses.

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