Though I ‘look at’ Twitter (one can hardly call it reading) and have even ‘tweeted’ a couple times, and while I often get ‘very important information’ (EPL transfer deadline-day, etc.) faster by Twitter than conventional news sources, I think its an inherently flawed method of communication, one which is leading internet society down a very annoying path. The reason for this is very simple: Twitter is designed to be a mouthpiece for snark (for those of you lucky enough to not be familiar with the concept, it’s a self-explanatory portmanteau of “snide” and “remark”). Being limited to 140 characters, Twitter users can either send a short bit of compacted information (sometimes useful, more often useless), or a poorly thought-out attempt at an aphorism—i.e. a snarky one-liner, something which can only be uttered with an air of smug self-satisfaction. I have to clarify: these are not aphorisms. They are not even aphoristic. I have yet to read a good aphorism on Twitter. Aphorisms are perfect jewels of wit and intellect, labored-over and re-written, not shat out on the train to work.
(Karl Kraus: “One cannot dictate an aphorism to a typist. It would take too long.”)
The gravest dysfunction becomes apparent when one wishes to comment on something someone else has said. My main problem with Twitter is that one cannot reply to messages in any meaningful manner. The only choice is to write a return @ message, which most users have difficulty following. Furthermore, one's commentary is restricted in form: one is compelled to reply in turn with a snarky one-liner, and we should have all learned in third grade that no meaningful conversation can take place when one is limited only to snarky one-liners. The internet is a magnificent medium for interpersonal communication, and I find it really depressing to see its standards of dialogue deteriorate into a mess of fractured, half-baked, smug, thoughtless, and closed-minded snark. Why, why, why? This is not merely the “dumbing-down” of the internet, its the transformation of the internet into a big, spoiled child.
(Twitter users: if you’d like to defend Twitter in the comments below please limit yourselves to 140 characters or less).