Sunday, March 23, 2008

Is Twitter the ultimate in boredom and interruption?

The Twitter site describes its service this way: "Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co-workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?"

One word in response: Why?

Seriously, is there any reason to continuously communicate to anyone (including family, friends and co-workers) exactly what they're doing at the time? A colleague who suggested Twitter last year told me one week after he suggested it he was pulling the plug because people started telling him what they were having for lunch, when they were leaving the office, what their mood is, what the weather is, and any other entirely trivial detail of their lives they wanted to share. With lots of people. On their cell phones. Yuck. Is it the ultimate in ego or ultimate in boredom that anyone even wants to share that much detail about their daily lives? Some even post their "what are you doing" Twitters on their blogs in the event those not in their direct Twitter world want to read what they had for lunch, when they leave the office, etc.

I became interested in Twitter again when I read this (hilarious) article in the NY Times about a middle-aged woman who tries to convince her husband and teenagers to use Twitter. She figured it would cut down on individual text messages among family members. Her social media teenagers had never heard of it and refused to use it. Rationale: seemed like surveillance and a monologue. Told their mother maybe time she "got out more". Apparently, as the article also indicates, Twitter is used by an older demographic, not embraced by the teenage world (which I confirmed with my thousands-of-texts teens too). I just can't figure out why it's appealing.

It's clear Twitter could be used in very specific (isolated) situations with specific topics such as during a conference to share thoughts/locations with others who are there (as we used to/still do with email, text and voice mail messages) or for disaster planning - but WOW - not all the time. I'm an absolute multi-tasker, and can't fathom what it would do to my productivity if "frequent answers to one simple question - what are you doing?" and other Twitter interruptions. A common Twitter post is "I should be working" .... well, think about that.

As one person quoted in this
WSJ article about the "mundane updates" of Twitter says, "Like I didn't have enough information flowing my way every day."


Jamie Notter said...

People said very similar things about blogs a few years back. Heck, I was skeptical about blogs a few years back. Then I started writing a blog and reading more blogs and I understood the value. I never thought I'd like Twitter, but I do, particularly when the people whose blogs I read started sharing the more interesting information on Twitter (links, etc.). Is it distracting? I guess. If you call learning from your social network distracting.

Anonymous said...

Cindy: Amen. But to each his own, I guess.

Anonymous said...

Cindy: I highly recommend Clive Thompson's article in Wired on how Twitter creates a "social sixth sense."

Unknown said...

Thanks, Cindy. I think you said what I feel better than I could have.

Of course, I could be wrong....naah!