Twitter is an online service you can use to send out short notes to the world via the Web, IM and text-messaging. People use it to issue updates about what they’re doing, eating, seeing, feeling, etc., to their family, friends and whoever else might be following them.
When Twitter launched in 2006, it was like a relic from the Jurassic period of the dotcom start-ups, when you could get funding for anything. Could a service that seemed to be designed specifically to provide its users with incessant interruptions, empty of almost any meaning or importance, really succeed Yes, it could. Twitter’s community grew about 900% last year, to more than 5 million users. A bunch of venture capitalists just gave Twitter $35 million. The Dalai Lama Twitters. So do Britney Spears, Snoop Dogg and dozens of members of Congress. I’ve felt the pull of Twitter too. There’s a Famous Writer I like who Twitters. I follow her. She Twitters wittily about her dog and her meals and her friends. Sometimes she Twitters about Twittering. I like it. When I get a tweet from her, I feel a bit like I’m in her Famous presence–like she’s a distant sun warming me from across the universe, one precious little sunbeam at a time. But here’s the thing: the more interested I get in Famous Writer’s life, the less interested I am in my own. I’m in danger of paying more attention to her dog and her meals and her friends than I do to mine. My powers of concentration, never formidable, are deteriorating. I’ve always got one eye on Famous Writer’s Twitter feed, waiting for the interruption that will distract me from my own, nonfamous existence. I think I’m in danger of mistaking my connection to Famous Writer for an actual human relationship instead of what it is–a slow drip of basically trivial data that I’ve been using as an excuse to get out of the hard work of being alone with myself. Maybe some people can handle Twitter, but I’ve gone cold turkey. I’m almost at the point where I can take a long walk and not want to beg my iPhone for the details of Famous Writer’s breakfast. But now I’m worried about her. What does Famous Writer get out of all this Does she have to Twitter to feel like she’s important If I could send her a tweet, I would say this, in well under 140 characters: Just remember, the un-Twittered life is still worth living. See the top 10 iPhone applications.
See 25 must-have travel gadgets.