Regular readers know that I refuse to use the word “tweet” in reference to what one writes on twitter. Instead, I use “twit”, which has generated deep-seated hatred by some for my refusal to go along with the mainstream. Hate me if you must, but the devolution into cuteness is like watching brain-rot seep through the minds of otherwise relatively normal early adopting people. Next week, attack of the zombies.
Now CNN reports that the New York Times has banned the word “tweet” from its paper.
The Times will stop using the word because “tweet” isn’t standard English, “and standard English is what we should use in news articles,” Corbett said.
Corbett noted that not everyone uses the micro-blogging site and therefore may not be familiar with what a “tweet” is.
After all, The New York Times always uses words people are familiar with, like “louche” and “shibboleths.”
I prefer my shibboleths fried, like most people, but that’s neither here nor there. This report presents a quandary for me. As much as I can’t stomach new cute words, like ‘tweeples” or “tweeteriffic”, I also can’t stand the thought that the New York Times and I are on the same page. Sure, I’m a curmudgeon, but that’s more than even I can take.
Nothing has pushed me closer to adopting the language of twitter than this bit of news. Mind you, they also call it “micro-blogging”, which is one of the most absurd descriptions I can imagine. There’s nothing bloggy about twitter, unless one’s world is comprised of meaningful thoughts that can be captured in full in 140 characters or less. Twitter is to blogging what this post is to War and Peace. Nothing.
Over time, it’s become increasingly clear to me that the adoption of twitter as a means of communication creates more problems than solutions. I’ve watched as complex ideas get watered down to meaningless glop and then spread amongst across the twittersphere to infect the minds of those who know only of the twitter version.
A while back, someone twitted a comment about one of my posts to me, and I responded that if he had something to say, he should put it in a comment. I would not, I informed him, engage in a discussion of my posts on twitter. He was highly offended, twitting back that I was an ass for telling him how to twit. (Sigh) He was free to post whatever he wanted on twitter (as if I could stop him), but my point was that I wasn’t going to try to fit serious thoughts into a twit. If there was anything meaningful to say, he was free to do so in a place where others would see it and in a medium that would accommodate it.
It doesn’t trouble a lot of “tweeple” that they are using a medium ill-suited for ideas. Twitter is great for chit chat, or making funny comments, or even letting people know about a new post on a blog. Twitter sucks for many other things. It can be quite dangerous for those who enjoy its camaraderie but don’t appreciate its public characteristics. Some people twit some incredibly dumb stuff, whether harmful to themselves or others, and can’t quite grasp why it’s a problem given all the cute fun-ness of twitter that otherwise surrounds them. I’ve urged a number of friends to take it slow when they jump aboard the twitter bandwagon, as it’s far too tempting to go hog wild from the outset until something goes awry. Some have listened to me. Others eschewed my advice. One even blocked me for being such a spoil sport.
Refusing to embrace the latest craze with both arms open and eyes closed hasn’t earned me any medals, but there’s little I can do to change it. Just because somebody, somewhere, decided that cuteness and light was going to define their product doesn’t mean that I have to become one of the lemmings, a slave to every facet of the newest, shiniest technology.
I have no regret for using the word “twit” rather than “tweet”. That some will think me a mean, nasty curmudgeon is the price one pays for not playing the game the way we’re told it’s supposed to be played. So I won’t be the most popular fellow amongst all the young and hip. I never was before, and have no plans to start now. The only thing I regret is that the New York Times refuses to use the word “tweet” as well. It was never my plan to get in bed with the old Gray Lady.