In a groundbreaking story printed yesterday, one of USA Today's crack investigative journalists broke the story that people who hate Twitter don't see the point of using Twitter! And in related developments, people who find marriage pointless rarely marry, vegetarians don't like meat, and water is wet. Here's the lead of this incredible story: "Dave Magnusen has never used Twitter, yet it bugs him."
I wish I was kidding.
The story goes on to quote a number of people who are completely ignorant about Twitter (and other social media, too) by their own admission, yet harbor an intense dislike of the service. Okay, fine -- but is that really news? Based on some of the canards repeated throughout the story, it's pretty apparent that neither the writer nor many of his sources has ever even looked at Twitter. Among the laundry list of complaints cited is the old chestnut about banal tweets: "Do we really need to know that you just put your pants on, just brushed your teeth, just ordered a hamburger, just finished dinner, just walked out of the bathroom?" one complainer asks. Considering that in my daily use of Twitter for the past few months, I've seen maybe a half-dozen tweets about such mundanity out of thousands of messages, I'm going to have to call bullshit on that one. And do I have to point out that the guy offering that brilliant insight acknowledges he's not even quite sure what Twitter is or how it works?
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Or how about the quote about the study showing that 40 percent of tweets are "useless babble"? Doesn't that mean that the other 60 percent (i.e. the majority) is useful to someone? It's also worth noting that same 40 percent figure is probably applicable to real life -- how much small talk do you make in a day and how much of it is anything but "useless babble"? Then there's the ridiculous comment about how people who follow celebrities on Twitter have "the misguided impression that they're on a first-name basis with [them]" backed up by... nothing. Not a single user is quoted saying anything like that. Why? Either because they couldn't find one or didn't try -- either way, nice work, USA Today. Very insightful! And even if they'd found such a person, what would it prove? That some psychos use Twitter? Duh! How many people believe they know celebrities just from watching them on TV? New media doesn't have a stranglehold on crazy -- hell, it doesn't even hold the majority share.
Another complaint, repeated twice in the article, is how Twitter is "replacing" talking to people face to face. Uh, what? Who are these people? Have they ever heard of a Tweetup? I've met a dozen or more people, several of who I talk to now in real life, via such meetings. Not to mention, I do still talk to my real friends -- including about a dozen from high school that I got back in touch with via social media! And my current favorite use of social networking is -- wait for it -- finding people to go to movies with me, in real life. See, my fiancee doesn't like going to movies, but I see about one a week, sometimes more. And while I don't mind going it alone, it is more fun to go with someone. So I tweet my request, and as often as not, I find a buddy to go with. I used to do the same thing via text message, but it sure is a lot easier with a tweet
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Social media: There's a reason they call it that. Had the USA Today reporter taken the time to speak to anyone who actually uses social media, he might have discovered some of those uses. But hey, it's way easier to just trot out a bunch of claptrap reinforcing people's preconceptions and prejudices about the service and call it news than actually report, isn't it?