Created in 2006 and launched in July of that year, Twitter helped create a new paradigm for global communication. There was no gatekeeper, and, at 140 characters, your thought didn’t have to be profound or even well written to post – hell, it didn’t even have to be coherent. Whatever might pop into your head you could publish to the world 24/7 instantly. Holy shit – this was a profoundly new way of expressing yourself to everyone in the world with a Twitter account, and you could do it in a few seconds! No pesky editors or publishers looking over your shoulder making judgments about whether any of this was good or not – just think something that can be stated in 140 characters, press “Tweet” and presto – send it out the entire goddamn planet. Instant global publishing!
Pretty heady stuff, especially if your judgement is chemically altered, or if you’re bipolar and in a manic phase, or even if you’re just an impulsive person with too much spare time on your hands. Of course, every action has a reaction…
Now, I’m not saying Twitter is a bad thing – I use it, I just don’t tweet. It’s a great resource to discover new things, all you have to do is follow some interesting people (or companies) and check out the links in their Tweets.
But here’s where it starts to get weird – when the President of the United States is Tweeting whatever pops into his Ambien riddled head at 3 AM, things can begin to seem a little out of control. It’s as if there is no filter, no deep thought put into it, and nobody’s running the ship – just click “Tweet” and let the repercussions be damned. I mean, I’m a nobody and I’d parse my words very carefully before throwing them out there for the whole world to see.
But I realize there is another element at play here. World leaders and visionary entrepreneurs don’t think like me – in fact, they probably don’t think like anyone else, that’s why they are where they are. And let me clear – I don’t want other people to think like me. But whether this instantly accessible ability to broadcast is good or not is kind of irrelevant – Twitter is here, and this model of global communication isn’t going away.
But boy, sometimes it sure can be more than a little unnerving.