From time to time in the course of a friendly conversation I’ll be asked why I don’t have a Facebook page, or why I don’t “tweet” on Twitter. A lot of my friends do, and I certainly am happy that they are having a good time doing it. Generally I give the quick and easy explanation that I have this blog, the Airstream Life web store, a photo/video site, and considerable email correspondence to keep me glued to the computer. I don’t really want any more. Besides, if there’s something you wanted to know about me that isn’t already revealed somewhere in the past five years of blogging (Vintage Thunder, Tour of America, Man In The Maze) then you are probably getting a little too close and personal.
Now that I think of it, that does seem to be exactly what people want. I mean, how many Twitter feeds are out there where people are talking about what they are eating right at that very moment? Twitter celebrates the mundane moments of our lives and encourages narcissism for even the most boring people. If you can convince friends and family to “follow me on Twitter!” you’ve created an audience for any sort of blather you might generate. You can tweet away in 160-character bursts, secure in the knowledge that all of those subscribers are forced to receive the latest news about your manicure or even your bowel movements.
Well, that’s true at least until people wise up. It’s as easy to tune out the noise as it is to sign up in the first place. For that reason, and because of a little business intuition, I will predict that the popular tweet-fest will subside rather rapidly soon, and the media will move on shortly, as they did with MySpace (remember them?) and dozens of others.
The gist of Twitter is that you can bore people, er, I mean “communicate with people,” in succinct 160-character notes. Because you can Twitter right from your mobile phone, you can do this all day long as you go through the motions of any day in the developed world. But I figure we can do one better than Twitter. With blog technology, I can give you all the tweets you’ve been dying for, all at once. In other words, why sit by your computer awaiting the next tidbit of my fascinating life, when you can sign in right now and get the week’s worth of news in one easy session?
So without delaying you even one more second (because we’re operating on “Internet time” and even ten seconds is too long to expect anyone to wait), here’s my week in tweets:
Back from Copperstate Fly-In. 3 tries to get Airstream in carport. Embarrassing.
Found more mouse droppings in kitchen. Can you say “hantavirus?” LOL
Looking for yellow tape at Lowe’s to mark carport. Maybe now E can back me in straight.
Eleanor back from grocery store. $200, and she used coupons! But got apple cider so I’m happy.
@bnsf Yes, she bought mouse traps too.
Can’t sleep waiting for SNAP sound all night. Why don’t they just leave voluntarily?
Why did the diesel pump at Fry’s shut off when my tank was just 5/8s full?
Remembered cider gives me gas. ROTFL. Actually, not exactly laughing.
Cold snap in Tucson: http://www.c4womenblog.com/2008/12/cold-snap-in-tucson.html
8 presenters signed up so far for next year’s trailer event. Woo-hoo!
Emma’s bat costume is nearly ready. I’m squirreling away Butterfingers & Snickers for myself.
Planning solo trip to Louisville starting Nov 28. Anyone need a trailer hauled from the southwest?
Cleaning Weber grill with heavy tools. Last night’s salmon stuck to it. Not LOL.
@lrko No sauce, just Deep South Tangerine Pepper dry rub. Sprayed the grill but it stuck anyway.
Winter 2009 issue of Airstream Life printed today. Should be in mail in a week or so. YMMV
Car show in Tucson: Cops and Rodders. Shot 100+ pics. http://www.copsandrodderstucson.org/
Eleanor’s new MacBook arrived. Logic board and hard drive dead on old iBook G4. (4sale)
About 40 kids for Halloween. Nice warm night. Then I watched The Big Lebowski.
And there you have it. Fascinating, eh? An utter failure to inform in a meaningful way, and a nearly-complete failure to entertain, in easily-digested bursts of 160 characters or less.
There’s a lot of credence given to the theory that “today’s generation” doesn’t read, doesn’t have an attention span, respects only what they read online, etc. People point to the failure of daily newspapers all over the country as evidence that someday, everything will be online. Maybe it will be. But that day will be a long time coming. There’s still value in old media.
Perhaps I’m biased as a publisher of a print magazine, but I don’t think so. After all, I’ve introduced an online version of Airstream Life. I believe in the value of online as a new medium. My suspicion starts when people assume that semi-literate yakking about trivia will replace deliberate thought. No, Twitter won’t replace the beauty of good composition, exchange of intellect, a well-researched report, or meaningful debate. (Daily newspapers could have remained relevant in an online-oriented world, if they had less arrogance about their exalted position in society, and more willingness to re-invent themselves to suit the modern competitive environment.)
For many people, tweeting is a way to have their own little reality show. Like “reality TV,” the only compelling stories are faked, exaggerated, staged, or incited. Some people are happy to fight with their spouses (or someone else’s spouse, a la Wife Swap) on TV for money. Most of us would prefer to keep that sort of thing private. It’s the same with Twitter: those who have something to promote or gain will contribute, and many of them will lie or tell only the truth that suits them; the rest will be boring. Very few people have the ability to say anything interesting and true in 160 characters.
But now everyone, regardless of talent or motivation, can have their own communications channel to the world. It’s like blogging, except that the signal-to-noise ratio is much worse. There’s not much chance of meaningful value being conveyed with a tweet.
So now you know the real reason I don’t use Twitter. I could break down my day into 160-character blips, but the nuance and richness of life, the exploration of ideas, the ability to invoke emotion and sway opinion, and much more would be lost. As a writer, I can’t find satisfaction in writing only shallow phrases, while foregoing sentences and paragraphs. As an editor, it’s hard for me to respect the content that comes through the Twitter stream. The pen is still mightier than the sword, but only for those who know how to use it.
PS: If you comment on this blog entry, please restrict your thoughts to 160 characters or less!
Zach Woods says
@Rich RE pump shutoff – See diesel foaming http://www.google.com/#hl=en&source=hp&q=diesel+foaming&aq=0&aqi=g1&oq=diesel+foam&fp=8ec9ea851cee2c5b
Bill D. says
U r 2 generous… ne1 twittering is limited 2 140 bits…
english will never b the same!
Al Brittain says
OK, wiseguy, I just tweeted this (@albrittain):
One of the very best RV travel blogs – Rich runs Airstream Life magazine and is very funny, too: ‘My week in tweets’ http://bit.ly/esK5S
Karen Britting says
Sorry Rich, but I don’t know how to tweet!
We LOVED The Big Lebowski!
Hi to E&E!
Robert tweets and says
My love is like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June :
My love is like the melody
That’s sweetly played in tune.
As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in love am I :
And I will love thee still, my dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry.
Paul Hahn says
The Dude abides!
Terry Baugfhman says
Amen. I agree completely.
jane zweig says
Used Twitter for 24 hours. Drove me nuts and like you I could care less what someone is doing at every moment. Facebook however is different. I use it as a business tool as much as I do for friends. I’m able to find out great competitive intelligence if you “friend” the right people. And in my “environment”, sometimes it gives me motivation or solace that it isn’t just happening to me…Hope things are going well for you, E&E.
Never did figure out how to do anything in 160 characters…remember I’m the queen of slides!
Tweeting…???My recollection is that’s something Sylvester the Cat did…what ever happened to that cartoon, anyway…?
Marie Luhr says
So…where’s the controversy? Seems everyone is in agreement. Tweeting is for the birds!