I hate the way Twitter transforms the written word into abbreviations and hieroglyphics, the staccato bursts of emptiness that occur when Twidiots who have no business writing for public consumption squeeze themselves into 140-character cement shoes. People used to write more intelligently than they speak. Now, a scary majority tend to speak more intelligently than they tweet. If that’s a concern—and all evidence suggests it isn’t—you can keep your tweets private, readable only by those you invite. But that reduces your number of “followers,” so almost nobody does it. A private Twitter account cuts against the whole spirit of the enterprise—a bit like showing up at a nude beach in a muumuu.
There are admittedly pockets of genius on Twitter, as anyone who’s ever visited the Goldman Sachs Elevator Gossip page knows. (@GSElevator: “If you can only be good at one thing, be good at lying. . . . Because if you’re good at lying, you’re good at everything.”) But most often, Twitter makes otherwise great writers good, and good writers bad. It’s a format that encourages even the pros to locate the mediocrity within. From @salmanrushdie: “One year today since I joined Twitter. I’m amazed to have 400,000+ of you with me. Thanks for following, everyone. It has been fun.”
I hate the way Twitter turns people into brand managers, their brands being themselves. It’s nearly impossible now to watch television news without an anchor imploring you to “follow me on Twitter,” even as you’re already following him on television. You couldn’t do this much following in the physical world without being slapped with a restraining order.
Though I’ve just catalogued much to hate about Twitter, there’s plenty more to hate about Twitter. I hate that Twitter makes the personal public. That conversations between two intimates that formerly transpired in person or by email become conversations between two intimates for the benefit of their followers. I’ve actually been to lunch with people who have tweeted throughout, unbeknownst to me. (The fact that they only looked up from their iPhone twice in two hours might’ve been a tipoff. Though that’s pretty much par for the course, even with untweeted lunches these days.)
I hate that formerly respectable adults now think it’s okay to go at each other like spray-tanned girls on Jersey Shore, who start windmill-slapping each other after they’ve each had double-digit cherry vodkas and one calls the other “fat.”