You know that something is really the wave of the future when old-fashioned people actually start trying it, and then rejecting it as just plain too new-fangled. First Virginia Heffernan confesses that she hates her iPhone and its tarty, cutesy face. Then in The Columbus Dispatch, Joe Bundo says he violated his own baffling rule of technology adoption ("Always wait five years, to see whether it will go away on its own") to sign up for Twitter, which his 18-year-old daughter told him he would hate, and which he did in fact hate. 

In what sort of hell would you be subjected to the passing thoughts of not only Martha Stewart and Marc Dann but also car dealerships and a building under construction? That hell would be called Twitter.

I find it kind of amusing that he's just repeating everything everyone else has said about Twitter, except he's repeating it way after everyone else has moved on. It's possible that he hated it because he followed … Martha Stewart and car dealerships, and not interesting, informative people. It's also possible that he didn't see the use because he never … tweeted. 

The pride in unadaptability is baffling to me, and neanderthalism really is not as cute as Bundo seems to think. Technology never "goes away;" it gets replaced by new, better technology. Which we should then ignore for another five years until it's passe and then embrace, while disparaging whatever replaced it? This makes no sense.

And while Bundo still has his job as a columnist, columnist jobs are disappearing thanks to an inability to understand new technology, anticipate the changes it will make, and adapt accordingly. Industries are actually dying while people wait to see if things will magically revert to the way they were five years ago, and these are industries with rich traditions that will leave gaping cultural holes if they don't adapt. I'm not saying anything new of course, but neither is Bundo. His is just a particularly hubristic example, and that's what's so frustrating. 

One last parting jab at Mr. Bundo: I found his column through Twitter. I'm hoping for survival of the Twittest.

About The Author

Alisa Harris

0 Responses to Survival of the Twittest

  1. Mark P says:

    “Technology never “goes away;” it gets replaced by new, better technology.”

    Nobody told the Roman Empire.

    I’m not really sure that things like Twitter reflect “new, better technology” as much as tech that matches and exacerbates our chronic inability to pay attention. I don’t believe that somethings existence is a valid argument that it is good. I’m not really sure that Progress is worth believing in. And I’m pretty sure that “somebody else said it already” is a valid dismissal of criticism.

  2. Kirk says:

    Social networks don’t “advance” so much as get overtaken by tweens, forcing the trendy to move on. Did facebook really have anything that myspace didn’t have? A different layout, maybe. Is twitter new? Basically it just took the status function of facebook (which itself is merely a form of AIM statuses), tweaked it a tad and built an empire out of it.

    Here’s my take: hipsters and teens are both exhibitionists. The only difference is that hipsters need to exhibit via a medium that hasn’t quite been found by everyone, teens don’t. So, hipsters find their new-fangled website, make it popular, other people come, and the hipsters move on. It’s not so much advancement as it is migration. I predict that in a year or two, there’ll be some new huge hangout spot that everyone will go to and joke about how lame twitter is. It’s just the nature of the internet.

  3. Alisa says:

    I’m not faulting him so much for not liking Twitter but for being proud of not adapting, in a profession that’s suffering because it can’t figure out how to adapt. I’m looking at this from a professional standpoint, not necessarily a personal standpoint. If he doesn’t like Twitter or find it useful (after he’s actually tried it) that’s fine; but if he cares about journalism and the role it plays in society, he should be keenly interested in adapting.

    I’ve also noted elsewhere the way social networks rise and fall. Definitely true. We can’t mindlessly embrace each new fad that comes along, but we also shouldn’t mindlessly dismiss it, which is what he seems to be doing.

  4. I don’t know who Virginia Heffernan is, but I do hate iPhones. I don’t even think their faces are cute.

  5. Joe says:

    Yes, Twitter’s role in society, which we can observe from the quotes of the CCM Twitterati posted on Patrol. The journalistic defense amuses, since the only people who have time for Twitter are idlers, kids, and would-be hipsters. Mr. Bundo, how dare you not take my toy seriously!

  6. David says:

    The only people who have time for Twitter are idlers, kids, and would-be hipsters.

    Absolutely, manifestly, demonstrably false. All kinds of intelligent, productive people find time to use it in various ways, from reporting to polling to publicity to making an album to customer feedback to meeting new people in real life.

    I understand that it’s not the same for all professions, and to many it’ll be worthless. (And certainly most people don’t have time to sit around and play on Twitter, which few actually do.) Fine. But how do you know how useful it is or anything about its “role in society” until you’ve been in the position to use it seriously and effectively?

    Alisa is rightly reacting to the proud idiots who think they’re taking some moral high road by abstaining (with out articulating any logical or original reason for doing so). Particularly in the journalism business, you should be trying every solution you can get your hands on. Twitter shouldn’t be given the status of “progress,” but it’s a very useful tool to use until a better one comes along.

    P.S. This says it well: there’s nothing lame about not Twittering, but the arrogant anti-Twitterers are just as hyperbolic and off-note as people who say it’s “the next stage of human communication.”

  7. Mark P says:

    “I’m not faulting him so much for not liking Twitter but for being proud of not adapting”

    And that’s fair. Newspapers are failing left and right while this old fart is sitting on his butt doing it “the way granddad did.”

    All the same, the kind of creepy free market “existence justifies existence” mentality towards technology disturbs me.

    And while I agree with David that Twitter surely has its uses and a sweeping knee-jerk dismissal is ridiculous… I wonder about what’s happening to our (my) attention spans.

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