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Twittering is an abomination

One of the excesses of the internet age, and one that deserves the strongest censure, is that of twittering.

The earliest form of this consisted of people sending out messages as they completed small daily events such as having coffee, or a shower. This is an abomination. Now it is commonplace for almost everyone to have both face book pages and twitter accounts – and let’s not get started on many other forms of social media such as snap chat. Is there no end to this horror? This delight in social media is on a par with whooping with delight in public, or talking on a mobile in speaker phone mode while walking on a busy street.

This craze for twittering may have, thankfully, moved on from broadcasting the truly idiotic minutia which use to clutter cyberspace, but the practice remains so bizarre that there should be legal sanctions. Long messages from people about what they are doing are of only marginal interest, unless there is some dramatic point to it all, let alone short ones. But even if there is some drama involved, it is difficult to see why anyone would waste a moment on this nonsense. One former colleague attempted to explain twitter-fests to me as a sort of community discussion. At 140 characters each? Those aren’t discussions they are extended grunts. Why not use discussion threads as you find on any serious forum? When an item is put on an online site, others who read it can attach comments or posts, and the permitted length runs to hundreds of words (admittedly this can be a bad thing). Either find a forum that permits posting of items at least a couple of sentences long, or find another way to waste time.

Sending multiple text messages remains bad enough, although I can almost understand the occasional text, as a convenience, as I have sent and received text messages. But sending hundreds of texts a day and twittering does not seem to even fall into the category of creative wasting of time. Those who restage the original Star Wars trilogy of films using lego, condensing the films into five minutes each and putting the filmed results on YouTube, are wasting time. However, it is a waste of time I can understand and (almost) respect. The people who consumed many hours of their time with such nonsense were moving along. I hesitate to say moving forward, as I’m not sure in what direction re-enactments of films with lego points, but they were adding to something. Then there are those who participate in international air guitar competitions, superman look alike and speaking like a pirate competitions (these are all genuine competitions and, no, I don’t know how to enter them). These eccentric individuals are not harming anyone, and their activities are not offensive. Others who watch Days of Our Lives or reruns of the old cartoon series the Jetsons can also be said to be wasting time, but they are being entertained. It is not offensive.

Twittering, on the other hand, is so fatuous that the very thought of it is offensive. The activity is not in the category of wasting time, but of occupying time with petty drivel at 140 characters a time. It is not moving in any direction at all, except possibly down a pit and dragging the rest of humanity in there as well. Anything would be better. Why not watch reruns of the 1950s television series of Superman or even – and this illustrates the depths of my feelings against twittering – reruns of Gilligan’s Island and Mr Ed? The people who watch reruns of those shows, as some do more than 40 years after the last episodes were made, are poor, twisted individuals in need of help. But I am not offended by that past time, as I am offended by twittering. In any case, the Mr Ed and Gilligan Island devotees can always be reprogrammed to watch reruns of the Jetsons, Lost in Space or F Troop. Now that was television.


Although, as noted, the twittering fever may have broken, it has left deep scars and practices that may never fade. Someone is to blame for this, but it is just not clear who, or what can be done to stop it but wring one’s hands and moan “The horror! The horror!”

Twittering is the very worst of the I-mania, but there are other significant electronic atrocities. When mobiles first came into use, I was horrified. People want to have phone conversations while they are walking around? But then I had to get a mobile and became partially converted. There are conveniences. But the most difficult practice of all to understand, is people who have loud conversations on them where others cannot help but listen, about what use to be described as delicate subjects. Why can’t these conversations wait until they are face to face with the other party, or at their desks or at home and they can use a conventional phone? More importantly, why must they inflict their personal problems on others? I have no use for the problems of others, be it drunken husbands, financial crises, breakups, or children in trouble at school. Whatever. When people are having face to face conversations, particularly when the conversation strays into personal issues, they understand the need to keep their voices low. They also understand that they should have the conversation one remove from others, such as in a work coffee room or their own homes. For some reason, those talking on mobiles forget all those precautions and talk on.    

Email, of which I was never suspicious, also has its uses. As far as I’m concerned that is the ultimate I-feature and there is no need to look further. It is certainly more convenient than playing telephone tag. But I cannot understand why people need to check their email while walking around, as smart phones and tablets allow you to do. Again, why not wait until you are at a place where emails can be checked on a larger screen? Checking emails on the run is not a sign that the person getting the emails is busy and important. Quite the contrary. There are senior executives who do not bother to look at their own email inbox at all. An assistant weeds out the fatuous and time wasting emails, prints out whatever is left over, and puts them on the executive’s desk.

The same technique can be practised with any form of communication, incidentally. Before the advent of email proper, one tax official told me that so much routine information circulated throughout the tax office – information on sexual harassment procedures, changes in policies on hiring minorities and the like - that he told his assistant to sort through it. Anything of real importance, or relevance, should be handed to him, the rest should be dumped. Email has made this tendency to generate material that is of no consequence worse, and added scam emails. But inboxes have filters, block deleting is simple, and email is too common and convenient to legislate against.

Twittering and even texting, on the other hand, increases this urge to generate trivia and time wasting messages.

While on the subject of evil, where that evil is nonsensical, I do not understand those who send and receive salacious pictures. Granted if I did it, the result would range from puzzled silence to a torrent of abuse. Legal action would be considered. People do not want salacious pictures of me in any medium, and I can’t say that I blame them. But why does anyone send them? Because they can? Because it’s the I equivalent of flirting? I am at a loss, but I’m not sure I want it explained. Perhaps if they send these pictures to one another, then they won’t be twittering and that is a good thing.

It is time to put a stop to this nonsense; time to cancel the twitter, Flickr, Instagram Snapchat and whatever else is popular at the moment, and use text only when necessary to do so. Our main purpose in life is not to generate nonsense online. There is a whole world out there to avoid, why not go out and avoid it.

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