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Easier than making new friends

July 29, 2009
that is why you fail (whale)

that is why you fail (whale)

Much to the annoyance of most of my friends, I’ve been using Twitter for about a year and two months now. It started out as a thing I did for work, and so I could follow the once-personified Rittenhouse Square. Then I added lots of websites’ twitters, because I enjoyed the serialized news format more than Google Reader (I know I’m probably alone on this), and then finally a few friends joined. Most of my closest friends, however, still prefer updating their Facebook status, or perhaps their Tumblrs, as their chosen method of self-broadcasting. These are decent ways of furthering their personal brands, but I think they’re missing out on something we’ve not been able to fully utilize on the Internet up to now, something that’s so integral to living with roommates, coworkers, friends and even people you don’t know: passive-aggressive messages. Lots more after the jump.

Back in college, it’s difficult to go all four (or more) years without at least once returning to your room to find a post-it stuck to your keyboard with some request from those you live with, like don’t leave your room with the TV still on. Understandable. Sometimes the passive-aggression is a little more aggressive; one time a housemate of mine hadn’t done any dishes in months, and had been hoarding them in his room, then he came down and left them all in the sink. As a result, another one of my fed up housemates cleaned all the dishes and hid all of them. Wouldn’t it have accomplished just as little, and been much easier to just write a scathing tweet with an @reply to the oblivious roommate? This is how we are starting to operate in 2009.

After Alberto Contador won the Tour de France the other day, he spoke out that he has never admired his now ex-teammate Lance Armstrong, and never will. Armstrong, being a good American, responded in tweet. The seven-time winner, and one-time bronze-medalist twot:

“Hey pistolero, there is no ‘I’ in ‘team’. what did I say in March? Lots to learn. If I were him I’d drop this drivel and start thanking his team. w/o them, he doesn’t win.”

There was a time when sports personalities would settle disputes at news conferences, or in the ring. Now we have Twitter, the easiest way to not have to act like a man. Yesterday, someone stole one of my bike’s wheels, and I think the first thing I did when I sat back down at my computer was to tweet about it, instead of, y’know, calling the police or doing anything about replacing it. I’m not sure I know what this means, beyond that Twitter has become the easiest and quickest way to vent one’s frustration, especially if there’s no one around. It makes a post on something like LiveJournal feel like writing War & Peace every time you use it; your thoughts can be broadcast globally as quickly as your Joycean stream-of-consciousness mind can spew them out. Sometimes not thinking before we tweet gets us in trouble, as was the case recently with one Chicago man. He insipidly wrote:

“Who said sleeping in a mouldy apartment was bad for you? Horizon Realty thinks it’s okay.”

Granted, it’s a bit of an overreaction, but that realty company is now suing the guy who wrote it for $50,000 for defamation. It’s good to see that even on the Internet, passive-aggressive acts will often still be met with aggressive responses; we’ve not devolved entirely into a race of meek non-confrontationalists yet.

For the most part though, we’ve really just returned to the mid-90s AOL chatroom state. There’s a lot of gesticulating and posturing on Twitter, a lot of “hey why don’t you say that to my face” and “yeah come here and say that”, and not a lot of actual fighting. It’s not unlike when my friends and I, delving onto the net at about age ten, would go into chatrooms we definitely had no need to be in (“Mothers and Grandmothers of Idaho”, “Conservative Party Central”, “Hot Babes Here”, to name a few), and we’d say something blindingly witty, usually along the lines of “you guys suck”, and we’d watch the inevitable fallout, sixty-five individuals telling us how wrong we were, until we were eventually kicked out. Twitter is no different, other than perhaps it’s even slower. Even with applications like TweetDeck for your computer and phone, there’s still very few instant reactions on Twitter, none of the immediacy of chatrooms of old. Obviously, there are still some chatrooms I could go be annoying on, if I ever have a reunion with my middle-school friends I probably will, but it’s Twitter that the ten year-olds of today will remember in a decade or so.

The internet will never become stale, as long as we constantly come up new ways to tell people they’re wrong on it. Twitter’s shelf life is probably nearing its end, seeing as it’s over-saturating its audience in ways that would make spammers and infomercialists proud (is there really that much of a difference between being constantly hounded by CNN reporters to tweet them, and being told to buy Slap-Chops and ShamWows and Forman Grills all day?), but some new way will come about. Another way that we can disconnect ourselves from our problems and hope that anyone else is interested. Considering there’s even a market for watching others being passive-aggressive, I have no doubt that an even weaker way of dealing with eachother will soon come about. I just hope the iPhone app has a good interface.


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