I am generally enthusiastic about web applications. I have been an advocate for blogs, wikis, podcasts, digital stories, and more, both on this blog and in my academic work. You would think that I would be advising new English teachers to start writing in 140 characters–to embrace the Twitter revolution. Only thing is, I hate Twitter. Okay, hate is a strong word, but I do think Twitter is a flash in the pan and more irritating than anything else. Here’s why:

The mainstream media have fallen all over themselves to get with Twitter. Perhaps news organizations and entertainment television believe they need to compensate for ignoring bloggers–or even worse, for deriding them as pajama-wearing slackers. But whenever I hear a local news personality recommend that I follow her on Twitter, I shudder a little. Chances are the personality has never personally tweeted–like many of Twitter’s members–and would have no idea how to do so. Yet every morning, I have to hear NPR anchors tell us how to follow them on Twitter. It’s a way to sound hip and informed, I think.

I also dislike when the news media pulls quotes from Twitter, or follows the tweets of a particular celeb or politician. Very few are newsworthy or even interesting: most just betray the thoughtlessness of the author and the genre as a whole. The one exception of Twitter being newsworthy–and making the news–is the Green Revolution in Iran, during which civilians tweeted about the protests and backlash. But why should MSNBC run a story about something Sarah Palin tweeted?

Since I’m being a crank, I might as well say that I am annoyed by the self-referential nature of Twitter and the language it has generated. Bloggers are very self-referential, I admit, and blogging has added a few words to the lexicon. But often, an entire tweet is made up of a reference to another tweet (RT) or even more annoyingly, a part of another tweet (PRT). Add the URL-shorteners (which can slow down the web) and you’ve made an exasperatingly obscure and self-involved message.

I don’t think Twitter is making anyone dumber or degrading writing and thinking. I just think its irrelevant, a little distracting, and a flash in the pan. And I’m not sure how many teenagers do use Twitter; more likely, they are texting. One thing I do like? Jon Stewart on Sarah Palin’s tweeting. Love the Gettysburg Address.

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