Opinion

For your own good, get off Twitter

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“It is a universal truth that no one should ever tweet under any circumstances” – Max Fisher, writing on vox.com

Something tells me that Fisher (@Max–Fisher) is waxing sardonic here. After all, Vox is a digital publication, and if his article on Curt Schilling’s (@gehrig38) Twitter problems hadn’t been retweeted 916 times, or flagged to his 67,000 followers, it might have fallen to the ground in the virtual forest, unread and unappreciated.

But I like the original premise. Should anyone really tweet? Put another way: What hath Twitter wrought?

The pope (@pontifex) tweets, to no great effect, e.g., “Reducing greenhouse gases requires honesty, courage, and responsibility.” Yes, OK. The cool kids follow his Latin feed (@Pontifex–In) with messages like “Erravit christianus nimis pecuniae deditus,” meaning “A Christian who is too attached to riches has lost his way.”

Barack Obama has several Twitter feeds (@POTUS; @WhiteHouse; @BarackObama) spamming the world with taxpayer-subsidized agitprop, e.g., “As long as I’m president, America will lead the world to meet the threat of climate change.”

Jesus Christ (@JesusofNaz316) tweets: “He’s breaking backboards up here now. RIP Darryl Dawkins.” I like the idea of the NBA star Dawkins, aka Chocolate Thunder, languishing in a Chocolate Heaven.

The 102-year-old Richard M. Nixon (@PresNixonUSA) is another emerging Twitter star who has to be experienced to be believed, or unbelieved: “This morning, we are enjoying Tang, Sanka, poached eggs, salmon, and Post Toasties with cling peaches. Life is good at the Nixon home.”

In a recent New York Times profile of Larry King (@kingsthings), comedian Jerry Seinfeld (@JerrySeinfeld) likened Twitter to “drivel,” and more or less credited King with inventing the format. The Times shot a video of Larry reading some of his greatest tweets: “I’ve never been in a canoe”; “Kiev is a hell of a town”; and my personal favorite, “I cannot get into Pinkberry.”

Do you remember back in 2010, when Twitter and the Library of Congress (@librarycongress) famously announced (“How Tweet It Is!”) that “Every public tweet, ever, since Twitter’s inception in March 2006, will be archived digitally at the Library”? That was an idiotic idea, and has since proved to be not only stupid, but apparently unfeasible, as 400 million new bits of Twitter offal flow through the Internet cloaca every day.

“The (Twitter) collection has not been opened to researchers,” a Library spokeswoman e-mailed me, “and, at this time, no date has been set for it to be opened.”

Whom do I like on Twitter? Someone told me to follow Joyce Carol Oates (@JoyceCarolOates), but there isn’t much there, really. Chess champion Garry Kasparov (@Kasparov63) has a huge Twitter presence, but a little goes a long way. I’m an abject fan of writers Patrick French (@PatrickFrench2) and Mickey Kaus (@kausmickey), so yes, I follow them.

Classical music maven Norman Lebrecht (@NLebrecht) is definitely worth following, as is investigative reporter Tim Bousquet (@Tim–Bousquet). Assuming you want inside scoops from Halifax, Nova Scotia, that is.

Back when the Library of Congress was all a-Twitter with its hip technological demarche of 2010, I wrote: “Twitter is part of the Big Noise, the impressive arsenal of mass distraction that reduces citizens to ‘followers’ of prepackaged political, commercial, and spiritual messages” It was true then, and it’s true now.

Have a little self-respect. Get off Twitter. Enjoy an end-of-summer ice cream cone, get your nails done, or – gasp – read a book.

Don’t follow me. If you need a daily fix of Alex Beam, you’re in luck – Twitter has dozens of them. Follow @alex–beam or @AlexBeam3. They seem like good fellows, and they keep the drivel to a minimum.

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