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I AM DEADMAN. HEAR ME TWEET!
Big news today. Ashton Kutcher just attracted his one millionth follower on the microblogging service Twitter, a milestone which has generated a fair amount of fanfare, but it's only the beginning as cult leader Oprah is going to feature Twitter on her talk show today and send her first tweet over the air.
Oh, how wonderful.
Excuse me if I don't join in the celebration - if I'm not all, ahem, atwitter with the news - but I have very mixed feelings here.
About a year ago, I signed up for Twitter - It's part of the responsiblities of my day job to keep abreadst of new emerging techonlogies on the Internets, and I had to see what all the developing hype was about.
When I joined, no one I knew well was on Twitter so I ended up basically starting a zombie account, never using the service again. As time went on, I would get the occasional follower as the service's popularity spread and friends found my name, but that's been about the extent of my experience with Twitter.
Pretty uneventful. And yet for some reason, Twitter made me mad. Really mad. I found myself almost irrationally rooting for its failure.
Now I am obviously no Luddite and as you can tell from the mere fact I am video blogging, I am not immune to the allure of banal self-expression and interactive communication, I enjoy reading status updates from my friends on Facebook - which at its core is all Twitter really is - and even occasionally provide my own update, but somehow Twitter crossed a line that offended my delicate sensibilities.
Was it the 140 character limit? Was it the fact one had followers on Twitter, not friends? Was it the fact that the vast majority of tweets were about what people were eating for breakfast or some other such trivial nonsense? Or was it the fact that Twitter's raison d'etre was that it encouraged people to delude themselves into thinking that what they were thinking mattered?
I realized quickly that what infuriated me the most about Twitter is how beautifully it fits with our time. What a perfect metaphor for our society. Our unquenchable thirst for fame and recognition, our almost pathological need to reveal private, mostly unimportant details of our lives to anyone who will listen, not to mention our rapidly dwindling attention span and deteriorating communication skills.
Twitter is inevitable. Few people bother with books anymore. Newspapers are an endangered species. The letter is a lost art. Real-life contact is an inconvenience. Communities and neighborhoods where we physically look out for one another are artifacts of a distant past.
It's time to face it. Whether I use the service or not, I am still a twit who tweets. We are all Generation Twitter. So why not follow Ashton and Oprah and twit boldly into our glorious 21st century. Resistance is futile. I have seen the future, and it has 140 characters or fewer ....
(Video Blog Transcript)