Thursday, March 5, 2009

Lonely? Don't Despair, Just Twitter

According to a CNET article, a psychology professor claims, "Americans have fewer people to confide in now than they did 20 years previously."

The author of the article then speculates, "For some people, this might explain at least one of the attractions of Twitter -- or any other social-networking contraption. You feel you have to tell someone. So you tell, well, everyone ... So might Twitter be a pathetic cry of comfort for those who truly feel the need for something even vaguely approaching human intimacy and understanding?"

But does technology such as Twitter truly extend and enhance human communication and interaction or does it offer more of an amputation? And why do people feel moved to Twitter, Facebook, blog, etc.? Do we even stop to consider such questions anymore or is most of society just going along with the flow of technology, rarely if ever stopping to understand motives and behavior?

The printing press gave us mass publication of books. The Internet gives us instant publication of thoughts. But are the thoughts worth thinking?


Jeff LaSala said...

I want to know your opinion... :)

Robert Velarde said...

I'll get back to you via Twitter.

Robert Velarde said...

Jeff, my quick answer is that tools such as Twitter amputate meaningful communication more than they extend it (I am adapting McLuhan's terms here).

Twitter limits communication to 140 characters. Can meaningful communication take place within such confines? It limits the amount of text, thus the amount of meaningful thought.

Does Twitter have some meaningful uses? It probably does, but I'd guess that most of what takes place on it probably lacks real meaning in the broader scheme of reality. It's a sort of peek-a-boo mentality, as Postman described, rather than a tool to foster meaningful discourse.

Most of us need to be unplugged more than we are plugged in (myself included). But tools like Twitter foster 24/7 activity, thus not only probably harming our souls in the short and long term, but impinging on the concept of Sabbath.

It can also foster vices such as pride in that it encourages self-centered narcissism rather than Christ-centered need.