backlash at the speed of…well…twitter

by sam on 04/18/2009

Ok, so I’m late to the twitter game – I started an account not too long ago, and…yeah, in a lot of ways a lot of it is kind of pointlessly entertaining, but I have to take real issue with crap like this. Not because it isn’t true in all circumstances, but because it reduces a service like twitter to its most useless part, and then assumes that everyone pointlessly uses it the same way. Sure, I follow some celebrities because I find them entertaining and whatnot, but I also follow several real friends and, quite frankly, I’ve made new real world friends thanks to twitter, in the very short amount of time i’ve been on the service. Here’s how that worked…

A few weeks back, I twittered something about cycling in NY. Someone who was looking for other NY cyclists found me and started following me. So I followed her back (hey, she posted good bike tips). So then…she organized a bike ride to coney island. Which I, at the very last minute, decided to participate in. I had a blast, met some great people, and made some new friends. who then proceeded to follow me (and vice versa) on twitter so that we could keep in touch easily. Today, we met up for another (yes, real life) bike ride out to red hook, and it was another blast (and heck, when a few people got stuck with a flat tire, we actually used twitter to try to find each other). So rather than the alienation that people seem to think is inevitable from each new social networking site, I spent the beautiful day today out of doors, on my bike, with 20 other like-minded people who I would have never in a million years met in any other way.

Each of these things is a tool. How one chooses to use them is really dependent on the individual. People who trend towards loneliness and alienation may continue down that path, but it’s because they already had that propensity. twitter didn’t make them that way.

I’m a loner by nature. When I was a kid, I was often much happier in my room with my nose buried in a book. And many of my closest friends (who I do see as often as we are able to make plans) have kids and stuff going on which makes it a bit harder to drop everything and go get a drink (and they’re certainly not bike fanatics like me). A lot of the “burying in a book” mentality has perhaps transferred to electronic media, but at the same time, if that media didn’t exist, I would have most likely spent my day today by myself. Maybe I would have gone for a bike ride, by myself, but knowing myself better than that, I would have spent half the day vegging out on my couch before I thought to go outside and enjoy the sunny 77-degree day.

I’m sorry, but the catastrophic “[insert latest technology] is destroying all of our social skills and making us all [narcissists/nihilists/sociopaths]” has just got to stop.

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