Twitter Kills

Jun 19, 2009, 9:31 am by Paul Stiverson

There is an epidemic, nay a pandemic, spreading like wildfire across the globe, I speak of twitter: the blue menace.

“But Paul, why do you hate Twitter so much? You, yourself, keep a blog (as is evidenced by this bullshit post), how could you be so vehemently opposed to the notion of rapid-fire short and essentially meaningless online communication?”

Well, gentle reader, I’m glad you ask. The reason Twitter’s proliferation offends me so is because it perpetuates and even necessitates the bastardization of our language. Or to put it differently: “bcuz it kills r words”. With their 140 character limit they make it impossible to formulate and convey a coherent thought, to even try requires a loose understanding of phonics. There are those who claim that spelling, grammar, and usage are unimportant so long as the reader understands the central meaning of the text. If that were the case then why did we, as a species, progress past grunting and pointing at our genitals? (I suppose not all of us have, looking at you Long Island) Could it be because simple communication lacks the nuance that allows us to express complex or abstract ideas?

It was perfectly acceptable when this mode of communication was primarily employed by teenybopper girls and potheads who think they are blowing their readers’ minds, but when legitimate news outlets (the legitimacy of CNN is sadly dwindling at the speed of light) are using Twitter as a means of news gathering then it has gone too far, it is too mainstream. It must be stopped before irreparable damage is done to our common language.

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6 Comments

John Grego Says:

Jun 19, 2009

I am in complete agreement. I like the newspaper.

mark Says:

Jun 19, 2009

"There are those who claim that spelling, grammar, and usage are unimportant so long as the reader understands the central meaning of the text."

I imagine that this may be somewhat directed at me, and that's fair if it is, because given this explosion of twitter I’m starting to see how that statement was proved false. Allow me to defend my intent of that statement with a little clarification. I never intended it as permission or worse encouragement to blatantly bastardize language, it was meant more as a cover for people who may not know the more subtle nuances of grammar, or who might miss-stroke a key from time to time in a heated write-up. I was not trying to shield wanton, deliberate, self-serving ignorance or stupidity. I know it sounds that way when put in this context, but I really didn’t intend for it to be put as a defense that way. (not to imply that you were trying to twist my words, Paul)

I’m with ya’ll, I’m not a big fan of twitter for that very reasons listed above.

Paul Stiverson Says:

Jun 19, 2009

Yes, you’re the only person I’ve ever heard deliver that argument. I know that you weren’t using that argument to defend abuses such as twitter, but it is possible to draw a line between failing to proofread and blatant abuse as is commonly seen on twitter.

trey Says:

Jun 19, 2009

i haven't even visited twitter; facebook confuses me enough, and i even consider myself technologically advanced. the bastards just keep changing it all the damn time; WTF PEOPLE!!! if it ain't broke don't fix it

i agree with paul completely in regards to companies (is this a company?) like this promoting bad grammar and screaming to our youth "hey it's cool to act ignorant! yea!!"
as paul (and everyone else i hang out with who apparently aren't cool enough to be a part of thismatters.net) knows me well enough to know that "mostly" proper grammar is a huge deal to me (note the mostly, i am country after all) and is one of my biggest pet peeves. I also won't hesitate even half a second to tell you you've spelled something wrong or used something in the wrong way. i mean nothing by it, and do it in hopes the same courtesy would be extended to me; who wants to sound ignorant? well, alot of people apparently, that wasn't a very well thought out argument trey...
Oh, grammar and people that can't do simple math. see bottom of post for story.

as for the "irreparable damage to our common language" part... the united states will blow itself up long before that happens; i do not want this to be a political statement and will follow up by saying republicans, democrats, green parties, yellow parties, pink parties, and periwinkle parties alike would all fuck it up, just in different ways that yield the same outcome.

happy fun laugh at stupid asses time!
the following was published in the airline magazine i was reading on the plane today. can anyone tell me what's wrong with this? maybe a 5th grader?
(60+90) / 2 = 72
WAIT, WHHAATTT?
normally i wouldn't make such a big deal out of someone making a mathematical error, hell we all do, but this was published... in a magazine... that thousands upon thousands of people read daily...
seriously guys, you're doing it wrong.

faith Says:

Jun 24, 2009

at the risk of being ostracized, i'd like to posit that the problem is not with twitter, but with certain people who use it. the point of the 140-character limit is that you're supposed to WRITE SOMETHING SHORT. apparently there are a lot of people who can't figure out how to be concise or are using twitter when they really need to be using a blog, and they feel the need to cram way more into a message than was intended. it's contrary to the whole spirit of twitter, and it's annoying to read. however, not everyone on twitter does this, including me and everyone i follow on there, so don't lump us in with the people who can't get a thought across in 140 or fewer characters.

Paul Stiverson Says:

Jun 24, 2009

Faith, you bring up a good point, that the users who abuse the system are to blame rather than the system itself. After all, every machine has its friction. However, there is an underlying problem with the machine which makes the friction unavoidable. The entire medium was devised to limit the potential for actual communication, making it only viable for a single thought. Basically the designers mistook talking for communication, and thus severely limited the potential for intellectual interchange, replacing it with “Hey, I’m at [a popular coffee shop] getting my fix”.

I guess my point is that the misuse of twitter was inevitable because it doesn’t permit any real or meaningful communication, despite the fact that it labels itself as a viable mode of communication. Sure, it is possible to express abstract thought via twitter, but it is certainly not what it was designed for, and certainly not what its users typically do. Without (at least the potential for) actual communication, what is the point? It seems to me that all tweets end up being mindless banality, and that isn’t doing any favors for the intellect of our nation. By all means correct me if I’m wrong, I’m merely theorizing here with a pretty limited body of tweets with which to make judgement.

Now, I don’t think that all statements need to be meaningful, there is a place for mindless banality, like when you are first meeting a person up until you learn the basics about them. Twitter prolongs this hollow interchange indefinitely and effectively prevents (as was previously stated) any legitimate communication. (The bastardization of our language is really just a symptom of the disease which is mindlessness)

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