Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Tao of Twitter


It’s hard to be a critic these days, there’s just too much competition. Social media appears to have opened the gates of hell to a yawning chasm of critique. Everyone’s got something to say and a lot of it just isn’t nice.

You can partially blame celebrities and their micro-tribes for this. Celebs have embraced Twitter for many reasons – the one-to-many communication they’re able to have with their fans, the ego-stroking they get from the growing quantity of followers and their (generally) ever-fawning praise and the fact that they can instantly get a snapshot of their meaning in the world by checking their ‘stream’.

Naturally this often back-fires, commit a mistake or do something seemingly controversial and the haters join the fray, pitching themselves into battle by hash-tagging or using your twitter ‘handle’ to ensure you get the message. Often you can rely on your devotees to defend you but many celebs (mostly footballers) have abandoned Twitter after being bombarded with scorn.

Justin Bieber found himself trending on Monday and Tuesday, which is not unusual when you have 35.5 million followers but for a change it was for the wrong reasons – turning up 40 minutes late on-stage at a venue that isn’t remotely close to many of the attendee’s residences. Even worse that itwas a school night.
That instant connection beloved of Twitter users is a poisoned chalice on nights like these. Bieber himself seems to be an active tweeter but he may not have liked the look of his timeline in the last two days.
Similarly when anyone usually insults those who have such a huge following they can expect ungrammatical and illogical payback from those who believe their idols can do no wrong – even when they clearly have done. It often becomes like primary school playground quarrelling, moderately amusing for a brief period – as long as you’re not actively involved. Who’d want to be the victim when the playground itself is the world, or at least the worldwide web?
Just as everyone’s a critic, there’s also a plethora of comedians – not always household names. Everyone thinks they’re funny or that their sniping will help them stand above the rest. It’s not always true, often the opposite but it is the way of things. The Tao of Twitter it seems is that cynics, critics and comedians hold sway.
We all want to be witty; we all yearn to be loved. Twitter seems to fill that hole for some, pandering to the promiscuously famous with their hoards of followers eager to re-tweet their every utterance.  Twitter favours the few, the quick-thinking or timely, those with too much time on their hands, time enough for Twitter anyway.
It is a sharing, conversational medium. It can be used for good but too often these days it looks like a cabal of cynicism, a destination for the deliberately dispossessed. Perhaps Twitter is just a snarky reflection of the society we are creating online, we are the world and it’s full of bitchy misanthropes.

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