Tweet and be damned!

@BevaniteEllie has got me thinking. Twitter isn’t really understood very well by a lot of people. Ellie Gellard is now a public enemy as far as the Mail is concerned and Stuart MacLennan has lost his parliamentary candidacy because of twitter.

Twitter is fundamentally misunderstood by a lot of people.To the Old Media it is something through which to trudge, to dig up filth to smear on those it pleases. Others think that because nothing on twitter matters that twitter doesn’t matter. I think both views of twitter are wrong.

For example, Paul Sagar argues that Twitter is treated as something really important, and that really annoys him.

Twitter is little more than a bunch of idiots expressing half-baked thoughts, joining herds of other stampeding #idiots, and at very best linking their “followers” to other place that aren’t Twitter, where things of substance are actually going on.

There seems little better description of 90% of the human condition, the boring, mildly entertaining, benign, hilarious, passionate, confused, occasionally dull, and almost entirely inconsequential content of most of most of our lives.

I don’t say this to belittle human life – I agree with Brian Cox, human life is the wonder of the solar system – but I want to say that a lot of it, fun though it is, is unimportant. I think that’s an fairly uncontroversial position so long as you are not so self-absorbed  that you consider any moment not worthy of record as not worthy of yourself.

Twitter is a conversation and very few conversation need  any purpose at all. To live a life assuming that a conversation without a point is a conversation wasted would be a very sad life indeed.

99% of the time nothing on Twitter really matters, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be used for something important, or that the links built on it can’t be transformed into something more. Inconsequential doesn’t mean not worthwhile.

The second way that twitter is “misused” is less of a misunderstanding and more of a clash of formats.

Twitter is in my view an extension of conversation. In a bar you can’t stop someone from talking to you or overhearing your conversation, likewise on twitter you can’t stop someone seeing your tweets. The difference however is important. Tweets are immemorial whereas speech is transitory.

Twitter is a new medium and much misunderstood by those who use it and those looking in on it from the outside. I think they could learn a lot from one another.

Those who think it is unimportant because it is inconsequential should take another look at how important their day to day conversations are to them – and how important they might be if recorded for all time.

Likewise, those cynically exploiting Twitter for cheap dirt should reconsider how much credence they give to throw away comments when they would be inconsequential in everyday conversation – sooner or later they will end up looking like gossip mongers not investigative journalists.