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Fatwah / February 11, 2011

twitter-revolution

Two years ago, I wrote an article for AlterNet about Twitter, then in its boost phase. As usual, I had been slow on the social media draw, and had no idea what people were talking about in 2008 when they said they “couldn’t find me on Twitter.” So I checked out the site and read some tweets. What I found scared me. The Twittersphere was like a nightmare satellite vision of the planet’s psychological atmosphere, nearly opaque with a dense, low-orbiting band of nauseating narcissisms. I couldn’t get my head around it; still can’t. Why would you willingly restrict communication to 140 characters unless you were playing a board game? Why would you want to broadcast your most diaristic, most diarrhetic thoughts to an uninterested world? Why oh fucking why would you voluntarily stick yet another IV needle into your brain carrying yet another drip of distraction?

Two years later, Twitter still looks to me like a lonely teenie-bopper’s wire service. This  short cartoon, which came out shortly after my piece, gets at something like the heart of it.

But wait, you’re thinking, what about Egypt! What about it? Twitter advocates have lately been jumping up and down about the site’s role in organizing historic displays of people power across the globe. But they haven’t offered much proof that Twitter was the decisive factor. What is proven is that people revolted long before Twitter. And while they are now revolting during Twitter, they will also revolt after it, when the Internet is something mutants read about in the charred remains of our libraries. Twitter’s role in today’s activism is roughly the same as the role once played by ram’s horns, offset printing, and fax machines. Twitter is not going to make the decisive difference in overthrowing the Kremlin or bringing down the mullahs in Iran. Does anyone want to argue that it would have made the difference in stopping the Iraq invasion? Twitter is to protest what the tank is to war—a tool. And not always the most appropriate one, either.

Twitter Rev Moldova

Speaking of extremely popular tools, it was Malcolm Gladwell, of all people, who made this point most saliently in an October 2010 New Yorker essay. Gladwell convincingly argued that serious and successful protest movements and organizations never take the form of chaotic Twitter beehives. They are more like ant farms—disciplined, hierarchical, and strategic. Along with pouring cold water on claims that Twitter drove protests in Moldova and Iran, Gladwell showed how the civil rights movement accomplished what social media driven protests never could. Organizing through social media, he writes:

[is] a form of organizing which favors the weak-tie connections that give us access to information over the strong-tie connections that help us persevere in the face of danger. It shifts our energies from organizations that promote strategic and disciplined activity and toward those which promote resilience and adaptability. It makes it easier for activists to express themselves, and harder for that expression to have any impact. The instruments of social media are well suited to making the existing social order more efficient. They are not a natural enemy of the status quo.

Despite the gloating snickers of some Twitterphiles, recent events in Egypt do not undermine Gladwell’s analysis. (That said, Gladwell is no valiant Twitter slayer. His essay may be an anti-Twitter classic, but he has yet to expiate his full backlog of social media sins. Before he let his account lapse in March 2009, Gladwell was guilty of tweeting things like, “Philadelphia has incredible charm. Looking forward to an engaging crowd tonight.” The Internet does not forget. And neither do hardcore Twitter haters.)

The pervasiveness of Twitterphilia can be disturbing. Johann Hari last week described in the Nation how Twitter provided the circuitry for direct actions against Britain’s biggest corporate tax cheats. “This protest movement,” wrote Hari, “is shaped like a hive of bees, or like Twitter itself. There is no center. There is no leadership. There is just a shared determination not to be bilked, connected by tweets.”

Johann Hari is a great journalist. His epic torching of Dubai is one of the best “Letters From…” of the decade. But on the subject of Twitter and Protest, he sounds like an Oxford-educated Rick Sanchez.

Dirty Sanchez Twitter

Which takes us to the “Where are they now?” portion of this overlong introduction. Sanchez is one of the main characters in the reprint below. Since its original publication, the Walter Cronkite of Twitter has been fired from CNN and is now reduced to thumbing his short, timely messages from his living room sofa. Here was Sanchez tweeting on Superbowl Sunday: “Nice to see ARod and Cam Diaz at Super Bowl. Good people, good friends.” The culture and technology journalist Clive Thompson, meanwhile, is still boosting for the latest apps and tech in major magazines, Tweeting about his broken Xbox, and asking people to visit his Tumblr. Mike Judge remains a prophet.

***

TWITTER NATION
By Alexander Zaitchik

February 21, 2009
AlterNet.org

Welcome to Twitter Nation. What was once an easily avoided subculture of needy and annoying online souls is now a growing part of the social and media landscapes, with Twittering tentacles reaching into the operations of major newspapers, networks, corporations and political campaigns.

Suddenly, our skies are dark with brightly colored cartoon birds. As in a nightmare, they are everywhere.

This has all happened very fast. It was less than three years ago that Twitter hatched as a harmless Web 2.0 curio modeled on  Facebook’s status-update feature. Twitter offered people a forum devoted exclusively to short blog entries known as “tweets,” most of which answer the company’s tagline question, “What are you doing now?” By mid-2008, the San Francisco-based site was garnering feature coverage in national magazines and batting away $500 million buyout offers. With nearly six million users and counting, it is now on a Plaguelike pace to obliterate last year’s growth clip of 900 percent. Twitter is growing so fast that 2009 may come to be known not as the year America swore in its first black president or nationalized the banks, but the year America learned to think and communicate in 140 characters or fewer.

For some, the breakout came with the site’s role during the Mumbai terror attacks in November. For others, it was the Dalai Lama’s decision to start Twittering. Some might point to Twitter feeds featured on cable news, or the dozens of Fortune 500 companies now Twittering their way to better sales and mitigated PR disasters. But there’s no debating that a tipping point has been reached. Use of the site is now mainstream standard practice for everyone from national politicians to editors at highbrow publications like Harper’s. Sites are popping up that discuss music and economics using the Twitter formula and size. Not a week passes without another creepily overeager New York Times trends piece about the site. Earlier this month, a Twitter style guide was released, and the first national Twitter awards ceremony, known as the Shorties, was convened in New York. Hosted by Twitter’s own Walter Cronkite, CNN’s Rick Sanchez, the awards ceremony featured acceptance speeches limited to 140 characters.

Can it be long before the entire country is tweeting away in the din of a giant turd-covered silicon aviary? And how scared should we be?

There is evolutionary logic to the building Twitter surge. The progression has been steady from blogs to RSS feeds to Facebook. But Twitter brings us within sight of an apotheosis of those aspects of American culture that have become all too familiar in recent years: look-at-me adolescent neediness, constant-contact media addiction, birdlike attention-span compression and vapidity to the point of depravity. When 140 characters is the ascendant standard size for communication and debate, what comes next? Seventy characters? Twenty? The disappearance of words altogether, replaced by smiley-face and cranky-crab emoticons?

I am a veteran Twitter hater—a “twater” in the cutesy Twitter mode. People like me have shadowed the site since it was still crying blind in the nest. As early as 2007, tech blogger Robert Scoble called Twitter hate “the new black.” The first wave of Twitter hatred tended to be visceral and knee-jerk, a reaction to the site’s unique ability to make everyone using it sound annoying and pathetic.

How can you not hate a site that encourages people to post, “At the park — I love squirrels!” and “F@*K! I forgot to tivo Lost last night.” How can you not want to slap these people with a mackerel? It’s no coincidence that the second-most Twitter-happy people on Earth are the Japanese, the undisputed champions of self-infantilization. Twitter provides the closest thing most people will ever get to their very own paparazzi or reality show, a trail of imagined eyes on their every move, thought and taste.

The old Twitter hatred now feels quaint. Before, the site and its users were simply annoying. Now there is serious talk about “Twitter Journalism” and “Twitter Criticism.” What was once just a colorful special-needs classroom on the Internet is starting to look like a steel spike aimed at the heart of what remains of our ability to construct and process grammatical sentences and complete thoughts.

Twitter’s defenders roll their eyes at such criticisms. People have been saying this about the Internet for years, they say. You’re just a grumpy old snob, they say. (It’s true that at 34 I am old by social-networking standards, three years older than the average Twitter user. But nothing reveals age more than being terrified of being thought old, a fear that is obviously driving so much uncritical Twitter coverage.)

What’s more, say Twitter’s defenders, haters like me focus on the banality and chirpiness of tweets because we are ignorant of the wonderful personal and social benefits of regular Twitter use. The company’s founders go so far as to call it the ultimate civilizational feel-good experience. “It is about the triumph of the human spirit,” Twitter CEO Biz Stone recently told New York magazine.

Chief among the Twampions of the Human Spirit is the tech journalist and blogger Clive Thompson, who has been on self-appointed Twitter guard duty since 2007. In the first conceptual defense of microblogging ever penned, Thompson concedes in Wired that tweets are often grating and vapid. But, he argues, over the course of hundreds and thousands of individually insufferable tweets, eventually an “ambient awareness” is achieved that creates greater empathy toward, and understanding between, groups of people. Within the patterns of minutia about office life and television habits, argues Thompson, dwells an online cosmic consciousness.

Twitter and other constant-contact media give a group of people a sense of itself, making possible weird, fascinating feats of coordination.Twitter is almost the inverse of narcissism. It’s practically collectivist—you’re creating a shared understanding larger than yourself.

And what do these “weird, fascinating feats” of Twitter-enabled coordination look like? In awe of the power of the “practically collectivist” Twitter, Thompson relays the story of the time he met a friend for lunch. Even before sitting down, he already knew from reading her Twitter feed that this friend “was nervous about last week’s big presentation, got stuck in a rare spring snowstorm, and [was] addicted to salt bagels.”

But salt bagels are just the beginning for the mighty Twitter Overmind, ever a work in progress. Just last week, Thompson contributed to Twitter’s national epic psychosocial genome project by tweeting: “I’m extremely sad that I can’t find Liz Phair’s ‘Rocket Boy’ to blip on blip.fm.” Frowny faces all around, Clive.

Thompson builds upon his foundation of bullshit in a September 2008 cover story for the New York Times magazine. With the need to fill up several magazine pages, Thompson gushes that Twitter not only melds a group of individuals into a near “telepathic” unit of kinship, it is the ultimate Socratic app.

The act of stopping several times a day to observe what you’re feeling or thinking can become, after weeks and weeks, a sort of philosophical act. It’s like the Greek dictum to ‘know thyself,’ or the therapeutic concept of mindfulness. Having an audience can make the self-reflection even more acute.

Again, Thompson instructs us to put up with thousands of idiotic and maddening tweets in order to “get” the full beauty and bounty of the site. Only after we burn swaths of our lives reading mindless tweets will the Twitter oracle reveal the wisdom it reserves for dedicated supplicants. Thompson doesn’t explain why having an audience makes self-reflection “even more acute,” whatever that means. Nor does he betray any concern that 140 characters might be enough space to state a tiny fact about a Liz Phair song, but not enough to reflect or meditate on it by any meaningful definition of the words.

But taking people like Thompson seriously isn’t necessary when the proof is right there on Twitter.com. What does the praxis of “acute self-reflection” look like in the Twitter Age?

It looks like this: “someone has coffee and it smells gooood. must resist.” (Twitter name: dorisnight), and “hey, i still have the # for twitter on my cell phone. whatever. im bored” (Twitter name: DomGatto). “Bladder has been treated. Best part of that appointment? I’ve lost 12 pounds total since I started dieting.” (Twitter name: Blueinsideout)

The most maddening defense of Twitter is that it constitutes art. Boosters like to claim that compressing communication into 140 characters results in a kind of computer-age poetry. “[Twitter users are] trying to describe their activities in a way that is interesting to others: the status update as a literary form,” writes Thompson in his NYT piece. Howard Lindzon, founder of StockTwits, recently told the Financial Times that the format “is an art form.”

So is speaking through burps. Again, any attempt to defend Tweets as some kind of new American haiku runs up against the reality of what people Tweet. Here’s that great 21st century New York Twitter version of the haiku poet Basho, known as “aliglia”: “OMG, I want brownies! When are we having dinner again? :)

It may not be true that only morons are drawn to Twitter, but everyone on Twitter sounds like a moron.

It could be that the best Twitter has to offer — delicious prose, supernovas of self- and communal knowledge — are visible only near the top of the Twitter hierarchy (defined in Twitterville as those with the most followers). Let’s check out the Twitter feed of CNN’s Rick Sanchez, a legend in the Twitter community for incorporating the site into his cable news program. Here’s Sanchez Twittering to his viewers last week: “anybody got anything real good out there, btw.. thanks for tip on dentist kid.. wow that funny!”

Some say the glorious potential of Twitter will be fully realized in bite-sized Twitter citizen journalism. My AlterNet colleague Rory O’Conner has studied the evolving impact of social-network media on the news business and concluded that sites like Twitter are “not only supplementing but supplanting” traditional news. As others have done, O’Conner notes that that the first photo of U.S. Airways flight 1549 in the Hudson was posted not on the New York Times site, but on TwitPic.

“When it comes to breaking news — from heroism on the Hudson to terror in Mumbai to calamity in California — Twitter leads the pack these days,” writes O’Conner. “Twitter has become a go-to source of news you can use when and where you want and need it — often when and where the legacy media cannot yet or no longer supplies it.”

It’s true that Twitter has been used to get information out during crises. But so what? Does that make it journalism? When people started calling in stories to their editors by phone, did we start talking about “AT&T journalism?” And imagine if telephones only allowed you to speak for 8 seconds before cutting you off. Whatever events Twitter may allow us to report a few minutes faster, it is still limiting that reportage to a space that can’t even hold an Associated Press wire blurb about a minor bomb blast in Sri Lanka.

When the Los Angeles Times ran a Twitter feed about local wildfires on its home page, it was an informational service to its readers that was distinct from and complementary to its coverage. It was not, let us hope, “the future of journalism.” Efforts to use Twitter as a vehicle for first-person reportage with voice — Slate tried to cover the Olympics this way, Talking Points Memo lamely tweeted the inaugural parties — have been laughably bad and quickly aborted.

The problem with Twitter Journalism is the same as with communication. Twitter can provide stick-figure snapshots, nothing more. Worse, the constant posting and following of these snapshots takes up lots of precious time, sucking up and fracturing the dwindling number of solid blocks of minutes that remain after checking e-mail, Facebook, Myspace, and other now-routine diversions.

But Twitter is unique and more dangerous because of the rolling, inherently content-less and bite-sized nature of the tweets. It reflects and feeds an autistic culture unable to focus on anything but the tiny feed box in front of it, and even that only when medicated. Programs like Tweetdeck (currently in public beta) are working to perfect a permanent desktop scroll and filter — an intravenous Twitter drip.

It takes a feat of dark imagination to look at Twitter and see art, the future of journalism or a gigantic shared-consciousness project. The thing Twitter reminds me of most is Mike Judge’s under-appreciated 2006 satiric masterpiece, Idiocracy. The story revolves around an Army private, played by Luke Wilson, who wakes up in the year 2506. This future America is defined by its stupidity: nobody can read, write or think for more than a few seconds at a time. There is a prolonged national drought because a popular power-drink called Brawndo (“It’s got electrolytes!”) is being used to water the crops.

On his first day exploring this idiotic future, Wilson wanders into a movie theater, where a new film is playing, titled Ass. The movie consists entirely of a stationary shot of a man’s ass, which farts at irregular intervals. The audience is laughing hysterically. In Judge’s dystopia, Ass wins eight Oscars, including Best Screenplay. Idiocracy ends with Wilson as president giving a rousing State of the Union speech:

There was once a time in this country a long time ago, when people wrote books and movies in which you cared whose ass it was—and why it was farting. And I believe that day can come again.

When future generations are watching movies in which it’s not clear whose ass is farting, or why, we’ll look back at Twitter as a milestone. But we won’t be using the word “fart.” We’ll call them “tweets.”

And then we’ll giggle like the Japanese schoolgirls we’ve become.

***

Alexander Zaitchik is a Brooklyn-based freelance journalist and former editor of The eXile. His book, Common Nonsense: Glenn Beck and the Triumph of Ignorance, will be published by Wiley in June. Pre-order it today!

Common Nonsense: Glenn Beck and the Triumph of Ignorance --Alexander Zaitchik

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29 Comments

Add your own

  • 1. empire in decline  |  February 11th, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    Twitter and Facebook allow middle and upper class do nothing assholes to pretend they did something important.

    It’s sort of like a French aristocrat in his palatial estate musing about how his witty pamphlet was no doubt the reason for all the excitement amongst the rabble who overthrew Louis XVI.

    Everyone knows those tools were made so first worlders could exchange frivolous bullshit and get laid. Other countries with real problems used them to do something important and now people who could have advocated cutting off Mubarak years ago want a taste of the glory.

    To give everyone an idea about the difference between what happened in Tunisia and Egypt and the United States, look up Malachi Ritscher and what he did. Nobody noticed or care about him when he burned himself to death while protesting what happened in Iraq. If they did the reaction would no doubt be apathy or “good, one less liberal faggot.”

    Nobody here does shit to change anything so the parasites here try to feed off of real victims who actually care about what’s going on. No glory for you, douchebags. Here’s hoping they get real leftists like the ones in South America who don’t compromise and do things on their own terms.

  • 2. JoJoJo  |  February 11th, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    The twitter and facebook stuff comes off more of a symptom that peoples’ lives are shitty and lonely rather than a cause of stupidity. Celebrities, journalists, and politicians and other high falutin’ havers as opposed to the have-nots use it to further their fame. Many famous people’s twitters are completely managed by PR drones as well.

  • 3. Soj  |  February 11th, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    Christ… obviously written from a Twitter “hater”, as advertised. I can’t be arsed to write out a lengthy defense of Twitter here but I will recommend you go to Google, type in “Egypt”, then click on “Realtime” in the left-most column. Tell me that’s not interesting and damn informative, with a dozen handy links to longer information (videos, news articles, etc).

  • 4. Don Quixote  |  February 11th, 2011 at 10:31 pm

    King Philip blamed Twitter for the Morisco revolt…

  • 5. H. Khariq  |  February 11th, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    tl;dr

  • 6. my talkative ringpiece  |  February 12th, 2011 at 1:51 am

    I’m ashamed to admit I have a plain, pay-as-I-go, cell phone. I don’t text, and I don’t “do” messages, you call me, if I’m near the phone I pick the fucker up. If not, it doesn’t bother me. Tough titty if it bothers you. I have no idea what messages or texts may be on there and I’ll ideally never find out. There’s one inadvertent photo of myself on there. It’s from a vantage point of about waist level, and I look kinda surprised. I know this because I saw it on the little screen as the phone made a noise like a 1970s era SLR camera. It’s still in there somewhere and I won’t go looking for it. I have the phone because occasionally, a few dollars a month worth, it’s kind of useful.

    I refused to text, tweet, play Farmville or do any of this other fucking crap bubblewrap babies to in order to try to avoid real life. On that last if I want Farmville I can have a dandy time trying to fix the tractor, messin’ with the chickens, putting in some quality time with a hoe, or cut down some trees or something. Plenty of real Farmville around here. I wonder, does the virtual kind award points for stepping in shit and killing things?

    I have got to see that Mike Judge film. Thanks for reminding me of its existence.

  • 7. mookid  |  February 12th, 2011 at 5:38 am

    short thought experiment:
    assume you are an egyptian and you took part in all the relevant facebook groups and twitter discussions.

    how would you feel when the revolution fails and the secret service begins to systematically punish every single person whose trace is left forever on the internet (“sorry, you cant enter this university, we saw your facebook activity.”, “sorry, but your twitter history tells us you arent suited for this job”)

    for the egyptian youth there was no turning back once they left their trace. I’d argue it made their protest even more resolute.

  • 8. Two wheels good.  |  February 12th, 2011 at 7:28 am

    Actually, twitter was originally developed by a bike messenger, as a means for messengers to use their cellphones to keep each other updated on traffic conditions and the like. Everything else is bullshit made up by investors and executives in order to justify paying them the big bucks to keep it running.

  • 9. Yumfy  |  February 12th, 2011 at 7:59 am

    Well written & thought out. You said a lot of things I have been saying

  • 10. brian  |  February 12th, 2011 at 8:06 am

    found this article from the exiled’s twitter

  • 11. Penile  |  February 12th, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    What I have found Twitter actually useful for is getting information directly from affected areas and not through some statecontrolled or corporate media channel.
    Obviously you have to find reliable “reporting” but combined with other web2.0 gadgets it can serve very well and alot faster than official channels.
    Whoe gives a shit about revolutions. It can be a good tool to disseminate information if used properly.

  • 12. Dan  |  February 12th, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    Not only a well-written piece that I largely sympathize with, but at least three huge laughs.

    I’ve never understood the attraction of Twitter in the past, and certainly never grasped why corporate America latched onto it so quickly and aggressively.

    I will say though that I appreciated Twitter for the first time during the NFL playoffs, when players were weighing in on Jay Cutler in real time. Whatever you think about their opinions, what was amazing was how free they felt to speak their mind when there was no reporter involved. I’m sure a lot of these guys have a lot to say, but just don’t trust the media enough to put it in print. But give them their own mic and its bombs away.

    Surely this is a development that could have happened with blogs or podcasts or any other direct outlet, but Twitter seems to have unleashed it.

    Still inane and destructive of course.

  • 13. namp1  |  February 12th, 2011 at 5:38 pm

    I am not familiar with twitter but facebook is successful mostly from kids surfing it during worthless lectures. Our stunted, obedient culture makes the kids feel like they have to go to “get the most out of tuition, or “respect the teach”. You made class not mandatory, facebook would be a shadow of its self and never have gotten off the ground.

  • 14. Eddie  |  February 12th, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    Look at any lengthy video of the protesters in Egypt and you will invariably find that a good percentage of them are talking on their mobile phones. Not a single one of them seem to be invoked in a Twitter session. Now, I do not take this as definite proof but surely the mobile phone itself is a far more valuable tool as a means to revolution then a Twitter feed.

    Personally I am happy in the knowledge that a large percentage of the less then bright people out there stay away from areas where they have neither knowledge nor interest. If you have nothing important to say then by all means go to a place where other people eagerly await your unimportant factoids. I do not begrudge people their free and harmless hobbies. You want to masturbate to free internet porn then go ahead. Want to twitter about your cat, enjoy yourself.

    I feel completely different about shared public spaces such as television or radio. Here I feel we owe it to ourselves to inform others and cultivate our common culture. But that is a different discussion.

  • 15. CensusLouie  |  February 13th, 2011 at 11:38 am

    Do people really take Idiocracy as serious satire? That movie literally and unironically advocates eugenics to the point that it’s more of a crypto fascist detection kit than poignant satire.

    It’s time to admit Mike Judge never had and never will make anything of value after Beavis & Butthead (and the first half of Office Space).

  • 16. Strahlungsamt  |  February 13th, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    Sure, with over 100,000 arabs on the street, screaming the news to each other what’s happening.

    Does anyone really believe cutting off Facialbook and Twatter had any effect?

  • 17. CC  |  February 13th, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    Wow, the MEA dominos are falling, and all we care about is whether Twitter or Facebook had anything to do with it?

  • 18. Tyler Bass  |  February 13th, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    @14 you can’t tweet from a cell phone?

  • 19. Derp  |  February 13th, 2011 at 8:09 pm

    http://twitter.com/derp

    Derp derp derp! Ah’m on Twitter now!

    Now, I know ya’ll are a bunch of liberal Commie faggots but please be sure to friend me a bunch! :>) Derp derp!

  • 20. ohwow  |  February 14th, 2011 at 7:53 am

    i’m starting to like this derp guy

  • 21. achilleselbow  |  February 14th, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    Sure, Twitter and most of the people on it are lame, but so are people who hold up their lack of a Twitter account as some badge of virtuous authenticity. Bragging about not having a Twitter or not being on Facebook is the 21st century equivalent of “I don’t even OWN a television!”

    The only reason I don’t have a Twitter is because it seems redundant, as it does exactly the same thing that Facebook status updates do, and nothing else. I guess it’s geared towards mobile users, since the site is much more basic and loads more easily than Facebook.

  • 22. ariot  |  February 14th, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    it’s not the tool but how it is used.
    beyond that, self-absorbed naval-gazers everywhere can text what they ate for lunch without regard for the hungry

  • 23. Igor Surov  |  February 15th, 2011 at 1:38 am

    Twitter has already proved to be a handy communication tool in Russia, during the recent nationalist clashes in Moscow last December. Russian rightwing youths (mainly socker hooligans) had multiple face-offs with Caucasus people all over the city, incited by yet another murder of a Russian teenager by a group of Dagestanis (wha, you didn’t think those Caucasus guys were not virulently xenophobic themselves, didya?).
    Both sides actively used Twitter to spread latest news and dispatch their own activities, like tracing enemy mobs or reporting on police cordons to be avoided.

    Twitter also turned out very helpful for observers, as it presented a cross section of the discourse of both tribes, the type of language they use for each other and the kind of hatred they have for the other tribe.

    I agree that Twitter is merely a tool, but while it might indeed be just a stupid toy for the American office plankton, in countries that actually have shit going on Twitter can be highly useful.

  • 24. Carpenter  |  February 15th, 2011 at 10:13 am

    Twitter is typical of the state kids are in after they have been shaped by the Left’s hippies-turned-teachers. They were going to REVOLUTIONIZE schools, do away with all evil discipline and pressure. The result: schools where gangs can harrass anyone they please, because teachers have no way of punishing them and have given up. And kids who complain that old-time books are too difficult to read, because of the complicated words and long sentences.

    Kids were taught by the hippie teachers that they were all Special, perfect just the way they were, with no need to live up to the demands placed on them by old-time standards. So here you have them: narcissists (who can’t even spell or understand the word narcissism), self-absorbed, spouting whatever Politically Correct slogans the media are feeding them today. Posting said PC slogans in twitter, facebook, etc, to feel Smart and Important.

    An infantile nation of children, who remain children into their thirties. That’s what we have had from the 1960s and onward.

  • 25. vaughn  |  February 15th, 2011 at 10:48 am

    I like it when CNN uses air time to report twits made by Sarah Palin!! that’s journalism!

  • 26. jim  |  February 15th, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    Not a Tweeting twat – because there is no sane reason to have a 140-character limit to personal messages in a time of such superabundant memory storage & transmission.

    “Biz Stone”? Seriously? Fuck. Brings back bad memories of Faith Popcorn.

    Yes, the spawn of the original hipster shitheels are all grown up & busy ruining everything in their path, just like dear old Rainbow & Galahad back in the Swinging Soulless Sixties.

    Perhaps they can be convinced that the next big kewl meme is autocannibalism – but only if you start with your fingers & toes.

    LOL DICKHEADZ

  • 27. pavlova  |  February 18th, 2011 at 1:24 am

    When Alexander was still in diapers in Boston, Khomeiny’s followers were fomenting revolution in Iran by distributing lowly audio cassettes with recordings of his speeches (audio cassettes were invented by Philips, a Dutch company). This thing about “Facebook or Twitter” revolution is a purely American, or Anglo-saxon fetish, to give cheap thrills to the urban idiots, making them think that they have contributed to something, and derive the marketing benefit, just like “green” stuff, or recycling.

  • 28. Derp  |  February 19th, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    Derp derp derp! Mah Twitter got hacked!

    Ignore the guy that hacked it, derp derp! Ah may be back later with a newer Twitter, derp derp!

  • 29. Orbitron  |  March 10th, 2011 at 8:36 am

    The motto of twittering teens: PLEASE, SEE ME! TELL ME I’M COOL!

    The 140-character limit is there for one purpose: so that the dumb don’t have to feel inferior to those who can actually write coherent arguments. On Twitter, everyone is tied down to dumbness.

    It reminds me of that Russell Kirk short-story about a future where everyone is made “equal” by handicapping those with positive traits. The strong have to wear heavy weights, the intelligent wear earphones that distribute loud noises every minute to interrupt their thoughts, the beautiful have to wear masks, and so on.

    Finally, the dumb and flimsy can feel equal.

    Unfortunately this explanation is too long for Twitter.


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