I Have Seen the Future and It Is Largely Bullshit
I’d never claim to be anything like a technology guru; as a matter of fact here’s a typical conversation I have with my friend Jeof all the time:
ME: What time is it?
JEOF: With my new IPHONE TOUCH, I can have the time read to me by Clive Owen any time I want. (Waves hands in magical gestures over iPhone)
CLIVE OWEN: It’s 3:15, mate.
JEOF: My IPHONE TOUCH also makes cookies whenever I want.
ME: (Looking down at his own ancient Nokia phone). My phone lets me play Tetris.
So whenever I stumble up to the podium to say anything about technological issues, keep this in mind. Still, I’ve been Twittering for a few weeks now and thus I imagine myself to be an expert, the same way I read one book on Chess in 2001 and played a free Chess game on my computer 5,982 times until I finally beat it, using the same opening each time (Queen’s Gambit), and decided I was a Chess Grand Master. So what I’ve noticed about Twitter – and, dare I say it, social networking software in general – is this: The name of the game is making yourself seem smarter, cooler, and more informed than you actually are.
Social Networking Stuff like Twitter or Facebook is sold on the idea that people want to be more in touch with each other, and since we live in a world where you’re in front of a screen of some sort (PC, phone, PDA) most of our day, the best way to do this is via Teh intarwebs, which Jebus sent to save us all. This may be true; just because I’m a dislikable bastard who doesn’t actually want to be more connected to people, since people frighten and confuse me, doesn’t mean the rest of you aren’t tickled to have an always-on connection to your (possibly imaginary) digital friends. But once people are one the social networks, they seem to spend most of their time trying to convince you that they’re smart, funny, and knowledgeable, when we all know they aren’t.
Twitter is the worst: Everyone on Twitter wants me to think they’re an expert on something. Writing, real-estate, Search-Engine Optimization, or – in a funky twist of the space/time continuum – Twitter itself. You can’t call yourself KINGOFREALESTATE without me thinking you want me to believe you know a thing or two about real estate, homie.
Homie? I should stop writing these posts drunk.
The time-delay aspect of these sites allows everyone to massage their public image in a way a live, face-to-face interaction doesn’t allow. Even Twitter, which thrives on immediate, apparently lag-free interactions (when the fucking site is actually working) allows everyone a small window for quick googling to pull up facts, quotes, or links that would have to hide behind a vague statement if you were, say, in a bar. Even someone like me can seem erudite and informed, when obviously I spend my days drinking at inappropriate hours, playing guitar badly, and giggling.
That time-lag is important. It’s short enough to appear instantaneous to our wetwork brains, but long enough for quick, broadband research. If it was perceived to be any longer, the illusion would be broken. If it were any shorter, no one would be able to type star wars quote bad feeling fast enough.
This is what technology is being applied to, kids: Making us look good. More and more, I figure this is what technology will be exclusively applied to. Eventually I’m sure we’ll all have earbuds which will supply information to us on the fly, solely so we can impress first dates, which would be pretty cool. Although I would probably use mine solely to have my own quotes piped into my ear, which surprises no one.