Let's Twitter a reaction to the overreaction to...Twitter

By now, anyone with half a brain recognizes Twitter as a useful tool. So what's with the ongoing hero worship. Get over it, already.

Each time our little world suffers a disaster, man-made or otherwise, count on the usual suspects to rush to their keyboards and pound out yet more bloviation about the existential importance of Twitter to our 24 x 7 ecosystem.

Before some of you jump ugly on me, let me hasten to mention that I've long found Twitter to be extremely useful. But how long before we can move past this "wonder of Twitter" moment? An earthquake in China, the Mumbai massacre, war in Gaza--Twitter's proved itself as a tool to report and comment on breaking news. If you haven't been paying attention, Twitter might seem wondrous. For the rest of us, it's old hat by now.

Yet so many of the usual suspects insist on remaining awestruck. So it was that today's U.S. Air crash triggered the predictable run of worshipful commentary. Silicon Alley Insider's headline: "U.S. Airways Crash Rescue Picture: Citizen Journalism, Twitter At Work," was representative of the chatter among the TechMeme crowd.

Maybe it was a slow day for some, but I cringed at the invidious comparisons drawn between the "mainstream media" and Twitter. By now, that's simply a cliche observation. Any news-gathering organization with any hope of surviving is reorganizing its operations around the best technology possible--and Twitter naturally figures into a successful plan.

A little perspective would be welcome. As I tweeted a few days ago, Twitter is the beginning of wisdom, not the end. (Especially in 140 characters.) And at the risk of pointing out the painfully obvious, you can also send photos on a mobile phone without Twitter. The devices are built to do that and millions of us actually know how to operate the devices. Imagine that.

This reminds me so much of the late 1990s when the novelty of the Internet had yet to wear off. Back then, the "Web reacts" article were in vogue, no matter how mundane the subject: Web reacts to Princess Di crash. Web reacts to Lewinsky dress. Web reacts to Bigfoot contemplating his left bunion. Etc. It was a phase. The Internet was a new toy and we were understandably infatuated at how you could actually write a story and put it up on the Internet. Magic!

Eventually, though, we grew out of it. How long before we outgrow the Twitter obsession? Beats me. It's just too easy a headline for some to resist writing again and again. Have at, if you must. But if you want to keep prostrating yourselves before Twitter, make sure to also fall on your knees before the telephone each time someone dials 911.

 

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