Those Electronic Babblers!

Hash tags frustrate me.

Don’t get me wrong. I am by no means a Luddite, nor do I hate Twitter. In fact, there’s a certain beauty to the conciseness of expressing ideas within 140 characters. It is the attitude that this is always enough to communicate that frustrates me.


Writing is alive and well; good, effective writing has its toes in babelthe mausoleum. Everybody writes these days. They text; they Tweet; they blog; they post on Facebook. In fact, there’s TMI (too much information, way too much!).

In toilet at #MSG watching #NYRangers blow @NHL #Stanley Cup chances.

Do I care where you are? No, I do not. That’s the problem. There’s a whole bunch of people who insist on telling me things I don’t want to know. And they do it poorly – very poorly. They bombard me from every direction with statements that make no sense. Why should I work to figure out what they mean?

Good Conversation

Twitter is billed as a way to have an electronic conversation. That’s a great thing, but people have to remember that good conversations require us to state things in a way that others will understand, that information is received as well as broadcast.

We’ve all been in a situation where one person insists on just talking and talking without letting anyone else say anything and without really thinking about whether those listening can follow along. We tend to tune them out.

Well, we are less likely to make an effort to read something we have difficulty understanding than we are to listen to someone drone on. (The unabridged version of Moby Dick comes to mind. I keep trying to make myself finish it.)

One of the best things about the Internet – and one of its greatest pitfalls – is its ability to let us quickly and easily write what we think. It provides a forum for a free exchange of information and ideas. Unfortunately, there’s a huge percentage of people who vomit whatever is on their minds without taking time to consider the effects of what they write. They forget that someone actually has to understand their ideas and logic for communication to happen.

The ‘Oops’ Factor

At one time or another, we have all written something hastily and come to regret it. Think about that e-mail you dashed off at work without first reading over it. How many replies did you get asking you to clarify what you meant? Or maybe you posted something on Facebook (to 500 of your “closest” friends) when you were angry, and it came back to bite you because people misunderstood.

Twitter (or any social media outlet) is a great communication tool. However, when it is misused by people who post without thinking or keeping the reader in mind, Twitter becomes nothing more than a modern day Tower of Babel.


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