Demonstrating emotional insecurity in 140 character increments
Gawker posts an article that attempts to explain the psychology behind using Twitter, managing to both read way too much into it and get in a few swipes at those who take part.
Why do people? Even the company’s CEO, can’t answer that question. Perhaps he is embarrassed by the true reason: We Twitter to reassure ourselves that we are alive.The Times of London asked experts about the Twitter phenomenon, and concluded that people use the Internet message-broadcasting service to send 140-character “tweets” relating their most mundane activities because of an underdeveloped sense of the self:
The clinical psychologist Oliver James has his reservations. “Twittering stems from a lack of identity. It’s a constant update of who you are, what you are, where you are. Nobody wouldif they had a strong sense of identity.”
In short, Twitter users are sad, self-absorbed people who desperately crave attention. The same description has been applied to members of other social networking/online journaling sites such as LiveJournal, MySpace, Facebook and Tumblr, usually by people who want you to know how above partaking in such pointless frivolity they are (as opposed to, you know, keeping a blog). There’s a bit of pot-kettle-black taking place with people who spend a better part of their lives on the internet criticizing other people for spending a better part of their lives on the internet, particularly when it develops into dick-waving fights over whose activities online are less trivial. Twitter and Facebook are sneered at because your actual interpersonal communications are limited to either a few sentences at a time or sending your friends a virtual cookie bouquet. Getting into arguments with conservatives in the comments section of The Huffington Post, that’s where the action is.
I’ll admit, I use Twitter. My page is here, and as long as you’re not spam or in the market to collect Twitter followers like Pokemon cards, feel free to add me. I use it pretty often, posting at least once or twice a day (I slammed the hell out of it during last night’s Oscars presentation). There’s no deep, psychological meaning behind why I use it, it’s just fun. Sometimes I use it to take notes, such as what I ate on a particular day. Other times I use it to make brief commentary on something I see when I’m out somewhere. Admittedly, most of what I post is not particularly scintillating (save for when I gushed over standing next to Steven Carell on a street corner last summer), but it’s entertaining enough that other users often comment on it. It’s mostly mundane stuff that I don’t feel the need to post here or on my personal journal, but want to mark down for posterity anyway.
As for as other people’s Tweets (because you can’t call them “twits,” and you definitely can’t call them “twats”), I like reading about the everyday minutiae of the lives of people who are either actually my friends or at least interest me in some way, and clearly I’m not the only one. One of the most popular members of the “Twitterati” is none other than former child actor and present high lama of geekdom Wil Wheaton, who currently has more than 125,000 followers. Wheaton’s Tweets are less about what is undoubtedly a more interesting life than the average Twitter user, and more about his ordinary comings and goings, commenting on a hockey game he’s watching, noting amusing anecdotes about his wife or kids, and gushing about comic books and movies. His Tweets are witty and fascinating, but then again, so are those of a lot of the regular folks I watch too.
True, a great deal of Twitter accounts appear to track their user activities from rising to the final before bedtime pee, and that’s a bit disturbing, if for no other reason than you know that these are the same people who will take a call when they’re using a public restroom. It’s also true that thanks to the internet we now live in a society where you’re considered a Luddite if you don’t belong to at least one website where you can interact with other people and share every detail of your life with each other. However, let’s not paint Twitter users with the same, tired “delusional people who think other people are interested in their lives” brush. Again, statements like that tend to be made by hypocrites who are also acting under the delusion that other people are interested in their lives: observe the bitchy hatchet job Time blogger Claire Suddath did on Facebook’s ’25 Things’ meme that made the rounds last month. She snipes “Most people aren’t funny, they aren’t insightful, and they share way too much,” apparently forgetting that she was writing about people she agreed to interact with on a website she willingly joined.
You’re not likely to read updates at Twitter if you’re not a member of it yourself. The virulent dislike of Twitter and the “old man yells at cloud” insistence that it marks the swift and final decline of communication in America is a bit baffling. It’s certainly easy to avoid. If you somehow find yourself subjected to Twitter updates without actually participating in it yourself, address those who are subjecting you to it, don’t pin the blame on users as a whole. It’s rather ridiculous to complain about how aggravating and insipid something is if you’re seeking it out in the first place.