I am going to attempt to speak in complete sentences and express whole thoughts in this blog. It is going to be hard, but I am going to do the best that I can.
Twitter has taken over the world.
We live in a hashtag-happy society. It seems as though anywhere we turn, we are bombarded with images of that damn blue bird or lowercase ‘t’. Go to your favorite restaurant, and you will see a sign (or sometimes a whiteboard) that says “Tweet Us!” Turn on the television, and every show is telling you that you can now find them on Twitter. It is everywhere. Hell, even once I post this blog, a link of it will be added to my Twitter account.
Last night, I was watching a basketball game on NBA TV, and I couldn’t believe my eyes. Every Tuesday night, NBA TV has what the call ‘Fan Night’, where the fans get to choose which two basketball games that are being played that night are shown on the network. Previously, the fans would need to visit http://www.nba.com to cast their votes; last night, I noticed something different. In the top right corner of the screen, in white lettering, was #FANNIGHT. Fans could now vote via Twitter! On Storage Wars (on A&E Network), they had a scroll on the top of the screen, displaying tweets from various watchers of the show, along with the hashtag #STORAGEWARS. Inside the NBA (on TNT) constantly shows tweets from fans and athletes during the pre-game, halftime, and post-game shows. It is hard to escape.
The most egregious, shameless self-promoting use of Twitter that I have witnessed, however, has to be every Monday night, when I (a grown man) watch WWE Monday Night Raw. The phrases ‘Twitter’, ‘Trending Worldwide’, and ‘Hashtag’ have become as much of the pro wrestling lexicon as ‘suplex’ and ‘bodyslam’. The WWE, for the most part, shied away from the social media outlets, sticking mostly to their own website (www.wwe.com) to relay news to the fans. It wasn’t until the summer of 2011, when the wrestling company noticed how many of their stars (notably CM Punk and Zack Ryder) were becoming huge stars OUTSIDE of the wrestling ring (Ryder, however, was mostly known for his YouTube clips, and crowning himself the “Internet World Champion”). Once it was seen that there was a medium where large numbers of people could communicate (or attempt to) with their favorite wrestler, Twitter become almost a necessity for the organization. Now, starting each episode, we see ‘#WWE #RAW’ flash at the bottom of our screen. When the wrestlers come to the ring, along with seeing their names, we get their Twitter handles (ex. ‘CM Punk’, then below it ‘@CMPunk’). Whenever something that is said or done during the show that registers on the Twitter richter scale, we are made aware by either the annoying Michael Cole, or a popup on the screen saying that it is trending.
Initially, seeing Twitter everywhere started to upset me. Why is it that, whenever I am trying to enjoying something, Twitter shows up? Why can’t I just enjoy one of my favorite TV shows without coming across some emblem of the website? How is it possible that Twitter has surpassed Facebook as being the social media outlet that is brought up the most in casual encounters? I didn’t have an answer for any of those questions. And I still don’t…..
…..But I do have the answer to another question: Why has Twitter become so damn popular?! Why do we care about what someone is thinking 24/7? When, before Twitter, did you ever find yourself pondering “I wonder what (insert celebrity A) thinks about (insert celebrity B) and their current breakdown?” And if you did, isn’t that what gossip rags such as US Weekly and Entertainment Weekly were for? The answer to these questions is much simpler than the ones posed above. The answer is this: our attention spans can no longer handle an entire magazine full of information. As a society, we are unable to process anything that is more than 140 characters. We are a ‘satisfy me now’ society; if the information does not come easily, we no longer value it. We want to be spoon fed as opposed to cut our own meat. Twitter allows us to put out short bursts of information, hoping that SOMEONE will come across our thoughts, agree with them, and then follow us. We try so hard to get our point across in 140 characters or less, and that has spilled out into our normal lives. When was the last time you had a conversation of substance with someone face to face, that wasn’t work related?
To be honest, I am a victim of this as much as anyone else. I initially joined Twitter back in 2009, but didn’t start to use it frequently until early 2010. Since then, I have tweeted almost daily, and I have noticed that my ability to converse in my everyday life has regressed almost to nothing. I find myself ‘LOL-ing’ when I don’t have anything to say in response to the person I am talking to; I speak in short sentences, rarely allowing myself to expand my point of view when speaking face to face. And this bothers me.
Every generation has left some sort of calling card by which they will be remembered. Every person who was a part of that generation will forever be associated with said calling card. We are now a week and a half into 2012. What can we do to avoid our calling card being “The 140 Character Generation”?