It’s a happy coincidence that combining the words “Twitter” and “haters” results in a variant of the word “Twat”. That was the word I uttered after reading Rebecca Wilson’s column on Twitter today.
Wilson hates Twitter because, unlike “Facebook and blogs (which) appear to serve some useful purpose, Twitter just does not – it is puerile, inane and a shocking waste of time”. Moreover, Twitter users are “vacuous people with too much time on their hands who like to believe we actually care what they are doing”. Wilson has a column where she is paid to spout her own vapid opinions, but she resents the fact that Twitter allows everybody to do the same. She seems particularly peeved that tweets are limited to a character count (she doesn’t seem to be able to settle on whether that count is 140 or 160), although I doubt she’d prefer more extensive “blow-by-blow descriptions” of the “tedium and uselessness” of the lives of people she obviously despises. (How somebody can be “turgid” within 140 characters is a mystery.) Perhaps it’s because she can’t summarise her own vacuousness to the form that Twitter is, to her, “the single most hideous technological breakthrough of the past decade” (she’s never tried Microsoft Songsmith, then, but that’s another story).
Wilson focuses on the celebrity tweets – which, yes, are largely inane and pointless – but doesn’t address the communities that are emerging and the conversations that are taking place amongst witty and articulate Twitter users. These conversations might sometimes seem trivial, but they are also frequently challenging and instructive. I wouldn’t have known where to attend rallies supporting disenfranchised Iranians, were it not for Twitter. On matters less serious, I would not have 500g of Tassie cheese in my fridge right now if it weren’t for the recommendations of people I follow on Twitter; I would have risked sub-standard pizza at our usually sterling local had I not been warned of a less-competent pizza-maker on shift on Sunday night; I would have missed the first episode of the current season of The Amazing Race.
Here’s the crux: Wilson thinks it’s all about her. Her entire column rails against Twitterers “…who like to believe we actually care…”; she characterises them as “…those who think we care (giving) us turgid, blow-by-blow descriptions of their every move…”. For her they are “…a whole new generation of bores … let(ting) us in on the tedium and uselessness of their lives”. I use Twitter, but I don’t tweet – or blog – because I believe that people actually care what I’m doing. I don’t tweet for Rebecca Wilson or others who aren’t interested. I don’t care what she thinks of what I’m thinking. I don’t care if she doesn’t find any links that I tweet interesting or amusing. I’m happy that she’s not clogging up Twitter with her crassly constructed “critique” of the medium. (Incidentally, she slams Wil Anderson for his hilarious tweeting from the Logies for “offering a less than constructive critique of Gretel Killeen’s performance” because it’s obviously all about the “constructive” criticism for Wilson.)
She closes by appealing to the memory of her grandfather (won’t somebody think of the grandparents!): “My grandfather used to despair at the idea of an idle mind. The Twitter generation would have absolutely terrified him beyond belief. I can just hear him now: ‘They all need to do a bloody good day’s work. That would shut the lot of them up.’”
I wonder if Grampaw Wilson would have considered scrawling a barely-literate column as “a bloody good day’s work.”