Let’s have a recap, shall we?
This month, Paul Chambers, the man convicted of ‘menace’ for threatening to blow up an airport in a tweet, is taking his appeal to the high court. The man responsible for #twitterjoketrial, who inspired thousands of #iamspartacus copy-cat tweets in solidarity, may be able to fight the £3,000 fine for his comment on Twitter (despite the fact that Stephen Fry has already offered to foot the bill). Also this month, in China, Cheng Jianping was sentenced
to a year in labour camp for ReTweeting a satirical message. One year, for the click of a mouse.
Twitter has grown exponentially since its launch in 2006. It is the number one microblogging site. ‘Facebook is where you tell lies to your friends; Twitter is where you tell the truth to strangers.’ But I’ve already forgotten who first phrased that sentiment – its origins are lost in the technological abyss. And that’s part of the problem.
The problem is that most people will never see your twitticisms. Unless they are only following a few dozen people or happen to look at Twitter at the exact moment you post, they will never see them. According to Wired
, 71% of tweets are ignored.
On top of that, the content that is
recirculated can leave a lot to be desired. Justin Beiber is always trending, hashtags like #whatimeatingfordinner prevail, and some tweets have become the saving grace for lazy journalists who not only source their information from the site, but use tweets to fill page space. Earlier this year, Miami Herald
staff voiced their concern that Twitter was being used to ‘fluff sports coverage on its front page to bolster sales.’ The Miami Herald, they argued, is becoming the newspaper equivalent of an open mike night. Or a flea market.
Yesterday when Mashable
covered the story about celebrities abstaining from tweeting on Wednesday to raise $1 million for World AIDS Day
, their readers voiced their relief that they wouldn’t be bombarded with the usual messages from Kanye West (‘I hope they raise $999,999’ was my favourite comment).
As my colleague Deiren outlined in his last blog
, when I was featured on the front page of Twitter it was not for my tweets about women’s rights or my keen observations of the books in or near my house – it was for a joke about hipsters. This was the highlight of my writing career…?
However, as he rightly points out, my new followers will likely be exposed to thoughts, facts, events, ideas and different perspectives now that they may otherwise not have encountered. If you’re reading this blog, you may even have been linked to it through my Twitter stream. (How postmodern is that?)
Criticising your Twitter stream because of the lack of thoughtful tweets is a bit like downplaying emails because of a lack of character development and plot. I think that it’s time we just have to admit that we aren’t all as good at this social networking lark as we thought we were.
For every successful utilisation of Twitter, such as the successfully realised awareness campaign
for malaria spread through tweets, or the guy who wrote the 1,000 word news story
entirely through tweets when he noticed no major publications were covering it, there is an idiotic hashtag like #stopthatthatsgay or somebody in a respectable position being fired for an insensitive comment.
What we need is a global tweetox. A communication shutdown. As far as I am aware, there is only one such campaign and it took place on 1 November
. What do you think? How can we stop being twits and start being twitty again?Would you like to tole-rant in a blog for global tolerance connect? Email firstname.lastname@example.org