Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

Is this working? #IrefusetosayTweet

juliagrace's picture

In case anyone missed what my face looks like when we discuss Twitter in class just picture a child in a sauna who keeps going outside to get ice cream, bringing it in, and watching sadly as it melts for the seventh time in a row. I go through these phases with Twitter, I think I vaguely get it, I get a little excited because I (kind of) know what's happening, and then I log on and see a massive jumble of tiny snippets of conversations I can never catch up on with a thousand links that send me all over the place and I'm back at square one. I think part of the reason I am so bad with Twitter is that I don't like it. That is my main point and already I would have used about three or more Twitter posts to say it, unless I simply wrote "I dislike Twitter and suspect it is mutual". I grew up in a house with more books than furniture, I've always read the book before the movie, and I still prefer to thumb through giant reference books for information. I am not built to sum things up succintly (as you have probably guessed by now). 

I do also have a more intellectual problem with Twitter as well, but I had to preface it with my personal issue with Twitter or else I feel like I'm hiding behind a cause. I worry about the speed at which Twitter moves and the character limit. In my Creative Writing class our professor told us that there was a study which showed that it takes, at minimum, 15 minutes for a person's brain to reach maximum efficiency in terms of creativity. These 15 minutes are, incidently, sans internet or TV or anything except writing or painting. Even if you reach that threshold, if you then check your email or facebook, you instantly are back to the beginning and will have another 15 minutes before you get back to that high level of performance. This is what worries me. We are now at an age where information is just a google search away, where questions can be answered in seconds, and where everyone can be found. Are we losing something important in this process? In an age where books are digital it seems anything can get published, because nothing is getting read. Are we dumbing down our society even as we claim to gain higher intelligence?


alesnick's picture

is Twitter one thing? one story?

Hi Julia!  I respect your concern that microblogging could be destructive to contemplation, creativity, and human mental capacity.  I am going to push on it, not because I want to push it away, but because I want to explore how these fears can be treated in a generative way. One question is whether one must "sum up" in Twitter.  I think there are a lot of ways to write/be on Twitter . . . its "discourse" is polyglot to a significant extent.  Like any public discourse, it has styles and trends, but can these also be multiplied and resisted, melted, if you will, into new forms?

Re: the issue of sustaining engagement, I agree that we must work as individuals to forestall the constant interruptions tech makes possible.  But aren't we free to do this?  This connects with the term "addiction" that I hear often in relation to tech.  Maybe part of the learning curve of using tech as a tool, rather than being used or used up buy it, is to transcend the addictive pull of it?