I am not a Twitter user. I have a Twitter account but I don’t remember the last time I logged into it. Even with just a handful of friends, I felt overwhelmed in trying to keep up with it, and as a rather wordy person, typing what I wanted to say in 140 characters is pretty difficult. For the short time I used Twitter, I found it difficult to keep up with the postings, and generally found very little useful information once it was all said and done. I guess for me I’m more of a blog reader, or a podcast listener. I have wondered, for a long time, how people who are big users of Twitter keep up with it all.
An article in my local paper today brought that rumination to the forefront once more. The story talks about a bit of a Twitter “war” that took place after a comment from a teenager about how much better St. Louis County is than St. Louis City. We are one of those odd places where there is a core city, operating under its own governing system and considered the “independent city of St. Louis,” and is surrounded by a larger county full of municipalities, 92 in all. It’s very complicated and I’m not sure why it ended up this way, but there is a bit of friendly rivalry between those that live on the city side, and those that live on the county side. So the post by the teenager, who was a Miley Cyrus fan, was commented on by the official St. Louis County Twitter account, which the official St. Louis City Twitter account had to counter, and it went back and forth for several hours, devolving into a name-calling flame war. In the end, there were posted apologies.
Do the officials of my metropolitan area have nothing better to do with their time? With the government’s time? And really, for most Twitter users, don’t most of them have something better to do with their time? I may sit in front of a computer all day, and I may keep half an eye on my facebook account throughout the day on a tab in my browser, but I’m far from posting constantly or allowing conversations to devolve in the way this particular Twitter exchange did. I have paperwork to complete, deliveries to make, students to train, payroll to submit, filing to complete, etc. I have plenty to do. In fact, I barely have time to go to the bathroom or carve out lunch some days, much less spend a day having a public online argument about nothing!
Is part of the problem the very nature of the Twitter service to begin with? Tiny comments, without elaboration, don’t give much room for nuance, nor do they give the person reading them a full idea of the true intent of the comment. The fact that this devolved so quickly into a flame war leads me to believe that too little being said is almost worse than too much being said.
But I just gotta wonder…where the heck do people find the time to keep up with something like Twitter?