Imagine a world where people roamed the streets shouting their opinions at you. Imagine a world where you knew what everyone was doing at all times, regardless of whether or not you wanted to. Imagine a world where people shared compulsively, where they believed that every moment of their lives was worth documenting.
You don’t need to imagine such a world – it already exists on the internet. If you didn’t already know, twitter.com is a website completely devoted to the parceling out of opinions and personal events. People ‘tweet’ what they’re doing at that particular moment, jokes, or random opinions for their ‘followers’ to be updated on. As of April 2010, twitter has over 100,000,000 users, and they collectively post 55,000,000 tweets per day – staggering statistics, considering that the website was created a mere 4 years ago.
Some argue that the new state of interconnectivity is good, that being in a state of constant communication is something to be embraced. “With twitter, I feel important – my followers listen to what I have to say,” says BHS Senior and avid twitter user, Matt Zanchelli. “When I first joined twitter, I was skeptical, but after I got into it, and started having exchanges with people, I started to use it more often.”
Meaningful twitter-conversations aside, though, what percentage of those 55,000,000 tweets is made up of valuable information? How many of those tweets concern news or significant events? According to a 2009 study conducted by Pear Analytics, only 3.60% of tweets were news-related, while a whopping 40.55% are in the category ‘Pointless Babble,’ or tweets in the vein of “Hey guys, I’m eating a burger right now.” ‘Pointless Babble’ is the largest category, with tweets like Matt’s in the ‘Conversational’ category coming in second with 35.55%.
Not everyone on twitter uses it like Matt – to cultivate relationships and connect with friends. The truth is that most users just enjoy touting about themselves. The average twitter user would say that the website affords him a sense of individualism and importance. However, the only real thing that twitter cultivates is unwarranted narcissism. As self-centered ‘babble’ is posted more often, it becomes more socially acceptable to advertise all facets of everyday life. ‘Being heard’ is a nice feeling, but a constant stream of information doesn’t help people learn how to distinguish between the important and the inconsequential.
So don’t get a twitter — unless you need it for Ms. Peterson’s AP Calculus class.