Is Twitter just a million moronic conversations

the screamOnce watching the TV was a complete passive act of slovenly consumption. The evening show was watched while slumped on the couch all senses dulled by the blue rays of the box.

Now watching the TV is only one part of watching the TV. In face “TV events” can be enjoyed by hooking into the Twitter firehose and looking for the right hashtag.

During the Logies, an Australian TV award show for all US folks, I noticed that the digital hipsters at the event were tweeting, that people on the couch were tweeting, that journalists were tweeting.

Everybody was talking at the same time about the #logies. Cracking gags, being outrageous laughing at “the stars”.

And what for?

Comedian Wil Anderson (@Wil_Anderson) attempted controversy by alluding to John Mayer, herpes and his “white supremicist cock”. He passed comment about Michael Slater doing jokes, Sigrid Thornton looking like gollem and something about the Rogue Traders.

It was pretty nasty stuff. Funny when you’re pissed and wearing a dinner suit, not so funny the next day.

Wil Anderson wasn’t the only one trying to be real funny on twitter for free.

Catherine Deveny (@catherinedeveny), Melbourne comedian, satirist and athiest offered such gems as:

“Rove and Tasma look so cute … hope she doesn’t die, too”

“I do so hope Bindi Irwin gets laid”

She now claims that she has been taken out of context.

I am not massively offended by any of the logies comments by Anderson, Deveny or anyone of the other clowns.

In fact I think it’s great that celebrities can be taken down to size by anyone with an attitude, a twitter account and the right hashtag.

And this is just the start.

Twitter TV commentary is taking off in Australia.

The latest series of Masterchef has seen continuous tweeting.

Such was the volume of tweets during ABC’s live discussion show Q and A, that it now publishes selected and topical tweets as a way of engaging the home audience.

It is all a little fun.

What concerns me is that the greater the volume of tweets, the greater the tendency for some commentary to be mindless and involve badly executed irony, cruelty and thoughtless aphorisms.

There are gems to be found, but as Twitter grows they are harder to find.

According to Deveny, Twitter is

“a great challenge for us, to have a sophisticated response to the evolution of communication.”.

That implies that people are actually listening and engaging.

But they aren’t. They are too busy talking shouting.

As a means of cultural commentary Twitter is more like talk radio than the smart coffee chat. They only difference is that rather than being between a moron host and a moron caller there are a gazillion morons all saying the same thing, all crying out for attention, all hoping for a retweet from a celebrity.

If everyone in the room is talking loudly then the conversation is useless and boring.

Perhaps there needs to be a stop tweeting and listen campaign, real-time curation of TV and cultural events and an education program about satire and irony for Twitter to stay fascinating, beguilling and delightfully stupid.

Without that Twitter is doomed to become just a million moronic conversations.

6 Comments

  1. Glad you like it Harold.

    Deveny has crapped me off and delighted me for a long time. The thing is that a newspaper column, a blog, a comedy sketch are all carefully considered and mostly represent the best an artist or writer can deliver. A tweet can be inane and is made more so by the cacophony of crap all saying the same thing.

  2. Peter Tsiampas

    Nicely said, but at the end of the day twitter is just silly little one liners with the occasional insight, why should it be any different for people who are in the public eye.

    The media has always tried to scrape the bottom of the barrel to find the right mix of “entertainment” to entice views to watch those revolting advertising.

  3. I agree Peter, but if everyone is shouting at the same time it is hard to hear what’s going on and stay interested.

    If Twitter want us to “Discover what’s happening right now, anywhere in the world” then the noise makes it hard.

  4. TheRVMGuy

    JS – very interesting. I must say that it has only taken you 15-odd days to nearly change your tune!

    Last month, in “Why there are no stupid users online”, you note that “… The promise of the Internet and web 2.0 is social transformation for the better and we need to strive to make sure this promise can be delivered.”

    So, is it now not “social transformation for the better”?

    I think like anything social, whether it be at an Amway meeting, coffee catch up with a bunch of high school buddies or on Twitter – there will always be that individual/s who either goes that one step too far or is not as sensitive to social norms and says or does the ‘wrong’ thing (subjective, I know, but then again, who isn’t in social settings!)

    The cacophony of Twitter is just like a very large get together in one huge meeting room. Sure, the noise is tremendous, but you can either wander around picking up tid-bits and hear gems or the very worst of human nature OR stand still and allow those around you, those that you want around you, to carry on conversations that you enjoy or are engaged in. Listening, therefore, has to become active.

    So whilst the majority of the noise is just that, noise (to you, as a listener), your active participation in the first GLOBAL conversation/get-together, where participation isn’t limited to who you know, what you know or your station in life BUT is limited only by your ability to want to participate (or a connection, in whatever form, to the internet – which is fast a barrier falling, as mobile phone access and usage gathers massive speed within Africa, Asia and South America) is not only the most fantastic opportunity to possibly hear from those we have never heard from before, but as Mr Keating once said “… The powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse”, and it is with this sentiment that I think that Twitter is more likely to be a force for good rather than the opposite.

    It might look like the morons get the upper hand or have the loudest voices sometimes – generally it is because the MSM is currently fascinated and scared of social conversations that they don’t ultimately control (“Oh my GOD – they aren’t getting their opinions from Tracy Grimshaw … AAAAHHHHHHHHRRRRRR!!!!”) and they therefore use them as weapons or counterpoints on social commentary.

    But ultimately, I think you will find that when all the dust settles, the morons will still be morons and those that like to have civil and interesting conversations, will continue having them. Location will be the only thing that alters.

  5. Just because I have concerns about Twitter being a million moronic conversations does not necessarily mean that I have given up on the promise of the internet and web 2.0 technologies. Simply put, the Internet is bigger than Twitter.

    I agree with you that cultures from the “south” getting access to transforming technologies is exciting and that Twitter is likely to be a force for good here just as it was in 2009 in Iran.

What do you think?