May 21st, 2009
Do you watch Desperate Housewives? Come on, everyone does. Last week, one of the star couples exchanged comments about social networking. Lynette (Felicity Huffman) was trying to urge her husband (Doug Savant) Tom Scavo to cheer up. She had landed a well-paying corporate job and was full of confidence. He was gloomy because heâ€™s been having a midlife crisis for at least two seasons. She finally convinced him to put on a suit and pursue some job interviews. He returned from these dejected, having not understood the question about whether he had ever used Twitter in a marketing campaign. Lynette, who is cool and confident and obviously with it, explains what it is. He is mortified. Why hadnâ€™t she told him? Well, if you have to ask you probably shouldnâ€™t be competing for jobs with 30-year-olds. Twitter has fast become one of those technological tools that divides us all up into hipsters or Tom Scavos. Itâ€™s todayâ€™s index of with-itness. Tomorrow weâ€™ll find something else.
Then we have rapper/producer Kanye West. Heâ€™s so cool he hates Twitter. He also warns us all that there are fake Kanyes out there doing some fake tweeting. Heâ€™s too busy being creative, he says, to bother with all that (enter profane word here). He saves his thoughts for blogging. Yeah, right,
Whatâ€™s astonishing is just how banal the whole thing is. You sign up, you release a few trivial words into the electronic atmosphere, and by so doing you acquire followers. Thatâ€™s a euphemism for fan or stalker or just people you know and people you donâ€™t know. Itâ€™s a euphemism for everyone who is not you. Itâ€™s all so easy, elegant, streamlined, and meaningless. Itâ€™s disposable, ephemeral, a perfect gesture for a postmodern age. Why complain about Twitter? Whatâ€™s it done to you?
They say that people over 30 are mostly using Twitter. Like Ashton Kutcher, an obsessive user who is 31, if you care. We are using it in the School of Graduate Studies because we are not Kanye West. We have more creative things to do, sure, but we know it is a useful mechanism for getting the right electronically transmitted words out, for making announcements, or boasting about our enrolment figures. Andy Warhol famously said that if everyone is wearing it then itâ€™s no longer fashionable. True enough, and about Twitter, Facebook, and all the trendy networking devices, too. There is always the danger that mass communication devices jump the shark or lose their appeal when too many people over 30 are using it.
So far, itâ€™s working for us. Weâ€™ve got followers. We want followers. Weâ€™re not too cool to be using Twitterâ€”yet.
Thanks to comicbaseÂ for sharing their photo via flickr and creative commons.