Twitter is a temporal black hole, a vapid, largely self-indulgent time-suck whose importance is most of the time greatly exaggerated. I’ve tweeted 1,331 times. It will be 1,332 by the time I shamelessly promote this post.
Tina Fey recently said that most people are too dumb to use Twitter, and I agree for the most part. And yet, that little bird is a constant presence at the top of my browser window. I like to think Tina would be amused by some of my tweets. But then again, probably not.
I tweet things I find interesting. I tweet things I think up that may be funny, or may be poignant, or may be meaningless. I do very little self-promotion, and I find people who tweet nothing but hashtag-laden links to their self-published true crime ebooks on Amazon to be especially tiresome. For me, Twitter is like clothes. It’s not an explicit and overt declaration of who I am and what I’m like, but has almost a voyeuristic shade—private thoughts made public. It’s all carefully calculated and designed, though. It’s preparation for the day when I’m truly public, when I get that little verified badge and my life finally has meaning.
On a practical level, I often will tweet things because I want to keep track of them. It’s just easier than a bookmarking service, which I have to remember to check. Since I’m already on Twitter all the time, my tweets are easy to scroll through.
But really we should all stop kidding ourselves. Very few people use Twitter just to discover interesting articles posted on HuffPo. It’s the ever-so-slightly more realistic possibility of something we say reaching a larger audience that the low-commitment micro-format of the tweet affords us. People might not want to take the time to read our blog posts or watch our YouTube videos, but tweets are so short it’s hard to keep from reading them, like road signs.
And is that so bad? What’s the harm in everyone feeling a little more connected? Is there anything wrong with that glimmering possibility in the back of your mind that this could be the one, this could be the 140-character thought that somebody actually hears? The idea that someone out there could be listening can be incredibly powerful. It’s hard to imagine where we’d be if more people throughout history had kept their mouths shut because they thought nobody would care. So keep tweeting, people. Join the collective noise.