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Monday, March 9, 2009

Old People Can't Handle the Twitter

Posted by Sarah Mirk on Mon, Mar 9, 2009 at 12:07 PM

That's the conclusion I've come to from The Oregonian opinion section, which last week ran TWO (2!) editorials by middle aged men ranting about this newfangled, society-eroding Twitter device.

I love articles which amount to a middle-aged person shaking their head in bemusement, making jokes straight out of Zits comic strip, as they look over some young person's shoulder and glimpse their confusing new lifestyle. This gawk-and-awe genre typically comprises ALL of Newsweek magazine (hilarious recent articles: "When Teens Fall Apart" and "No Epidemic of Teen Oral Sex") but it finds solid footing on the opinion pages of big daily papers, too.

The O's first Twitter piece of the week was Leonard Pitts Jr.'s column last Wednesday, "I will never tweet you". "Today, I make you a solemn promise: I will never Twitter you. Or is it tweet? I'm never sure," writes Pitts. "And here, let me pause to help the technologically illiterate catch up. One uses Twitter to send tweets (no, I am NOT making that up!) i.e., electronic notes, to one's online friends, family and other subscribers."

The second piece, from the Sunday paper, is painfully titled, "Politicians now caught betwixt and betwitter." (I am NOT making this up!)

I feel like Twitter is one of those new technologies that everyone loves to hate, but most people will sign onto eventually in some form. Remember when people made cell phone jokes? Anyway, right now we have this bizarre taboo against admitting that we use the internet to socialize. While almost everyone I know (except my parents - yet - and a few tree-sitting friends) can be found on Facebook at some point in the day, it seems like social networking sites' sole defenders are freakazoids like this guy and Lindsay Lohan. Maybe it's because useful technologies that carve out an addictive niche don't really need defenders. Twitter isn't going to crumble if Leonard Pitts, Jr., upholds his pledge to never sign on to the craaaazy website, but Leonard Pitts, Jr. is obviously already feeling a little threatened and overwhelmed by Twitter's influence on his social scene. Really, columnists for big print dailies should be scrambling to get ahead of the curve and learn how to use social networking sites to reach more readers and save their own jobs, rather than lamenting technology from the stone age sidelines.

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