Like many before him vehemently raging against a new idea, Alexander Zaitchik has obviously not used Twitter. So often, criticals consider the newest demon only long enough to find fault. They don’t maintain a curious or open mind to give it a fair chance. Twitter is quite often likewise written off immediately without any exploration.
I don’t even need the “excuse” Zaitchik cites as a common cry of Twitter lovers, the “wonderful personal and social benefits of regular Twitter use,” because I have found that Twitter offers so much more than the “birdlike attention-span compression and vapidity to the point of depravity” he claims it to be. I simply do not follow people who write about mundane details of their lives in a boring, matter-of-fact fashion. No benefit to me, no reason to spend the coin of my life on such time sinks. I follow tweeters like @scobleizer, @problogger, and even @sarahjoaustin and @tweeples_guide who share useful information about the world and niches I’m interested in. I access news through one site, Twitter, by following @nprnews, @nytimes, and others, which saves me time and makes me more productive.
Twitter is not about shortening my attention span. It is, for me, about giving certain things only 140-characters, because I have more important things to spend my time on. I don’t want to waste it searching for the news in the endless mass of headlines, ads, and other distractions on individual websites. RSS went a long way to solving this problem, but I find Twitter much more deft at solving this problem for me.
And don’t even get me started with the amazing benefits to our writing that forcing an entire story, sometimes spanning hours or days, into 140-characters can produce. I teach (preach?) brevity, conciseness, and get-to-the-pointedness to my writing students; no one likes a rambler. I can already feel the developments in my own writing that have come from carefully crafting my tweets to fit as much information as @penelopetrunk does (I’ve always felt she somehow got more than 140-characters because her stories are always so full).
I know that I, and those like me, might be in the minority on Twitter, but if that is what you want, then follow only that type of people. Don’t follow the vapid, boring, play-by-play of my boring day tweeters. You are only as good as those you surround yourself with.
And limiting yourself to only 140-characters is just as liberating as it is restrictive. Sometimes, your message truly only needs 50 characters. You initially felt you needed pages, books, to contain the story, but once faced with that tiny box and the character counter, you see the issue clearly, concisely.
So, before you bash Twitter, or any new development, dip your toes in, experience it for yourself and honestly–just give it a try.
And when you dive in, follow me. You’ll find me enjoying the waters at @xgravity23.
Edit: People who make cartoons like this just don’t get what Twitter has become. They’re stuck on out-of-the-box Twitter.