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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Sunday, May 28, 2023

Twitter tearing down sensible communication

If you need a brief synopsis of what is wrong with society today, get a bucket ready, type into your web browser, and vomit out all your hate for modern communication.

If someone were to turn Facebook to glass, drop it and pick up a shard, that would be Twitter. It's nothing more than a bedazzled Facebook status update. For some reason unbeknownst to me, old people have jumped on it like a Sinatra-themed La-z-boy. Apparently Facebook was too complicated with all its buttons and doo-hickeys. Thanks to Twitter, now the whole world can know instantly when John McCain awkwardly runs into Sarah and Todd Palin.

Time magazine, an old media standard attempting to stay hip, dedicated a cover article to their claim that Twitter is permanently changing the way humans communicate. If people are going to communicate with LOLs, @ symbols and misspellings in under 140 characters, society as we know it will implode.

Don't think I'm a complete Luddite. Granted, I write for a glorified broadsheet, but I am on Facebook. I also have a blog, and I think, therefore I Google.

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Twitter is far inferior to such more common forms of de-personalized communication. It's use actively dumbs down communication in this country. Each ""tweet,"" or post, maxes out at 140 characters, restricting creativity and information simply to worship at the altar of arbitrary character limitations.

There is hope for those of us who enjoy genuine conversations. True, there is no turning back from the imminent future of impersonal, web- based communication. But alternatives to that atrocious Twitter, such as Woofer, offer to save creativity and the spread of reasonable amounts of information. Woofer is similar to Twitter, but each update must be a minimum of 1,400 characters.

Perhaps the most poignant April Fool's prank of this year came from the British newspaper The Guardian. The periodical published a piece on April 1 jokingly announcing that they would stop printing a daily and start disseminating news on Twitter.

The Guardian gave examples of what past news would have looked like on Twitter, with faux Tweets including, ""OMG Hitler invades Poland, allies declare war see for more;"" and ""JFK assassin8d @ Dallas, def. heard second gunshot from grassy knoll WTF?""

The scariest part of that charade? Papers across the country are actually utilizing Twitter. Luckily, many are using the site to post links to actual, in-depth articles elsewhere, helping to extend the overall reach of the periodical. If large media companies continue operating under the impression that Twitter is a legitimate information tool, it may just become true.

Even the university, with its prestigious School of Journalism, believes that students really care about a picture of a tree with fall colors on Bascom Hill, as posted on the UW Madison News Twitter account.

Scott Walker announced his run for governor of Wisconsin on Twitter. Now the two leading elephants in the gubernatorial race are Twittering their guts out. If either Walker or Mark Neumann win the state with the help of Twitter, I will promptly retract this entire column.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom announced his candidacy for governor of California on Twitter. Newsom undoubtedly hopes such a ""tech-savvy"" move will help him win all the internet addicts who put Barack Obama in the White House. But how can we stymie the loss of face-to-face contact? Something must be getting lost in the translation from analog thought to emoticon. From campaigns to conversations, the people we see day to day should matter most.

The best result of this break-down in human communication is Conan O'Brien's Twitter Tracker segment on the Tonight Show. O'Brien, a Harvard man, can see that the fad of celebrities letting us know when they're eating is laughable and hopefully a temporary trend.

Our generation, the generation of MTV reality shows, Mountain Dew addictions, and now Tweeting, needs to slow down before the upcoming socialized medicine requires a daily Ritalin supplement. That damn baby-blue Twitter bird isn't helping our attention spans. And we need those to study.

Jamie Stark is a sophomore intending to major in journalism and political science. Please send responses to

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