I have a conflicted

This whole social networking thing, I’ve been reticent about it. Then on further examination, I acquiesced a bit.

But I have a reticent again.

As you may know, I’ve joined the folks who are using Twitter. Sure, yes, I tweet.

Banal stuff I tweet, I admit. But I enjoy the challenge of 140 characters. Plus it’s fun to see what other’s can cram into such a small space.

Often I read stuff on there makes me sigh and shake my head. Example: a local sports broadcaster takes to Twitter to describe the quality of his bowel movements. A regular man, seems to hit him daily about eleven a.m.


Then there’s some good stuff, too. Local SanFran author Christopher Moore has the best tweets of my follow list, bar none. Example: “Steve Jobs had liver transplant. Glad he finally acknowledged the value of cut and paste.”

So okay, there’s fun stuff out there, it’s not all bad. I rather enjoy tweeting, heck, as you know, I even recently participated in a twitter story writing contest. So I’m on board!

Only, this weekend, I might have hit a wall.

I follow Ann Curry on Twitter. She’s been Tweeting pretty hard about what’s going on in Iran. I personally have tried very hard to keep a distance from all that. It’s horrible, and my heart goes out to the victims and their families, but I have a neurotic worry gene (thanks, Mom) and if I let myself follow what’s happening, I will lose my grip.

So, yeah, I have been reading Ann’s tweets, even though I’m not sure this is the best way for the news to travel, I read them to keep up to speed, a little, on the progress.

That said, on Saturday, Ann tweeted quite a bit about the escalation of the protests in Iran. Scary stuff, here’s some examples:

“Credible source was eyewittness (sic) to pepper spraying of about 100 protestors #iranelection”

“Iran state tv claims explosion at tomb of revered Ayatollah Khomeini. Would incite anger against protesters. Is it true? #iranelection”

“More reports of police using tear gas and water cannons to disperse thousands #iranelection”

Yikes. I was taking all of this in, feeling that familiar fear and dread…and then moved on to read more tweets on the same page by other twitter folks that I follow.

Here’s where my train derailed.

Along with scary stuff from Iran, here’s what else I found on the same page:

“just getting up, still drunk I think.” (from a local journalist for the SF Chronicle and a prolific author)

“Destroyed by dim sum and good friends.” (from the rather successful owner of a small business)

“I’m thinking of something like this for (my second house), so perhaps I’ll go to C&B and see how it looks in person. (furniture item, link redacted).” (from a blogger and editorial writer for one of Seattle’s independent newspapers).

So, look, I’m not following Buffy the Wonder Ditz on Twitter, I have thoughtfully chosen which tweets I see, but still, I was startled by the juxtaposition of the uses of Twitter.

Actually, The Good Man pointed it out as he read over my shoulder. I didn’t even see it. Perhaps I’m so twitterheaded it didn’t look strange.

I think Twitter can be used pretty well as a marketing tool. Heck, when I tweet a link to my blog, I can count on about 10 to 15 extra eyeballs that day. So that’s good, right? Blog traffic is really nice.

But is all this self-focused, self-absorbed social networking really meaningful? (asks the self-focused, self-absorbed blogger)

I don’t know, something changed for me on Saturday. I like Twitter, enjoy using it, but then think…what am I *doing*?!

I don’t have the answers, I’m really just talking it out here. But last week, I was kind of into Twitter and enjoying it. Now, I’m not so sure.

Anyhow…just some pondering for a Monday.

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  • Anonymous

    I dunno. I think you're way over-thinking the whole thing.

    For me, it is what it is: A fun, quick, easy, interactive way to keep in touch with most of my friends at once.

    I think it's probably something different for each person, but really, it's just a simple tool. You can rely on it whenever and for whatever reason you choose.

    For me, analyzing it is kind of like dissecting a Barbie. What's the point?


  • Karen Fayeth

    Overthinking it? Maybe. I have certainly been accused of being an overthinker! :)

    But I also don't want to underthink it. The use of Twitter during this whole Iran election debacle has really got me taking more of a look at this. It's no longer a fun tool, it a means of serious communication.

    It's better than email where you pick and choose who gets it. Basically, whomever wants to hear your drivel gets the chance to.

    The Good Man projects that the demise of email is near…and he may be right.

    I think this is a next generation for the internet and for communication…but it's also a device where people talk about their poop.

    So I don't know….

    And that line about Barbie made me laugh my ass off! Thanks for that!

  • NewMexiKen

    No, Karen go with your instincts here.

  • Anonymous

    "It's no longer a fun tool, it is a means of serious communication."

    For some it is. For some it's a mirror, for some it's a goof.

    I think it's like any other mode of communication–it's what you want it to be; what you make it.

    (I do love the 140 character challenge–can you be clear while still being extremely concise? Fun.)


  • Karen Fayeth

    Thanks, Ken. Now that you are using it more, what are your thoughts? I know you were also pretty reluctant to use it before….

    Has your opinion changed?

  • Elise

    I'm totally intrigued by your husband's thought concerning email. Its demise is something that had never even occurred to me, but he may be dead on. Although … what will replace it?

  • Karen Fayeth

    Ay, god. Evidently Phil Bronstein and I were on the same brainwave today.

    Phil's SF Chron Blog Entry

    Best line: "Look, Twitter can't cure cancer. But it's certainly part of the genetic makeup of a future vaccine to combat the transitional disease affecting professional journalism."

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