Wait, no, that's not precisely accurate. I've never understood the allure of Twitter.
I've had a Twitter account for a couple of years now but, if you look at my @janeymcjanerson stats, you'll see I haven't been a particularly prolific user of the medium. In fact, I'll go months without logging in at all. I'll forget who I'm following and why I'm following them and then, once I do log back in, have to figure out who all these people are again.
Why don't I use it?
For one, I'm obsessive.
I have this weird thing about going back and reading all the tweets people have made since last I logged in and, even if I'm logging in once a day - which is about all I can manage - that's a daunting task. It's much more daunting than reviewing the backlog of Facebook updates. It seems to me some people have a whole lot more time on their hands than I do to tweet. Either that or they are in the position to have a smartphone glued to their hands much of the day.
Of course, it is possible I'm doing it wrong. Maybe I'm not supposed to care what other people tweet unless they mention me specifically and require a response. If I could embrace that philosophy, the whole experience might be different for me. But then, why am I following anyone if I don't care what they have to say? That seems rather silly, in my opinion.
Mostly though, I don't like Twitter because this constant stream of chattering voices mimics what I live with in my anxious head a good portion of the time, adds to the cacophony, until I literally cannot hear myself think. It's like...Facebook on speed and speed stinks.
However, today something happened and I found myself interested, fascinated, turned on by this medium I'd largely ignored.
What was it?
The PIPA (Protect IP Act) / SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) blackout protest happened.
If you live under a rock and still, after today, don't know what those are, CNET has an excellent article giving you the FAQs on how these two pieces of legislation would impact you.
Now, I've been aware of the PIPA/SOPA controversy for some time and, because I have excellent friends, they all knew about it too so there wasn't a whole lot of spreading-the-word I could participate in because my range isn't particularly far-reaching.
When my friend, Foolish Boy, called my attention to the fact that Reddit had signed up to protest by going dark for a day, I was thrilled! Reddit has a much much larger reach than this little carved-out space on the internet I call home. When Boing Boing and the Wikipedia signed on to protest, I knew this was going to be huge. HUGE!
These are sites that get more views per day than the NY Times and all major television news outlet get combined (I'm making that up. I have no idea if that's true. But I like to imagine it's true so we'll assume it is, OK?). These are sites that are important to people. They aren't necessarily conducive to productivity but they sure are fun! And fun is what we like. Fun is what many people are looking for when they surf the net. Fun is what motivates us in our trivial pursuits.
Do you want to know what a lot of people find un-fun? Congress. Government. Politics. News...
Until it kicks them in the shins with steel-toed boots.
Today, the American people got a collective kick to the shins and many people, blissfully ignorant up until now, woke up and said, "OW! What did you do THAT for?!"
Want to know how I know that?
TC pointed me in the direction of a Twitter account user - @herpderpedia - who was systematically combing the Twitterverse and re-tweeting all the "WTF, Wiki?!", "WTF, Congress?!", "WTF, broken interwebz?!" tweets (s)he could find.
There are a lot of them.
And, even though I was a little discouraged many of these tweeters were asking to have it explained to them without seeking out the eleventy-billion articles already written to explain what was happening, even though I was a little disgusted when some were calling it SOAP and SOFA *sheesh*, I was mostly just whole-heartily glad they were asking for the information.
Knowledge is power.
It's just too bad there seems to be no way to take a favorite toy away from enough people to get them to see what rights they've been stripped of by the continuation of the USA Patriot Act (hee hee that link is to the wiki article and the wiki's still blacked out so you won't be able to read about the Patriot Act for now).
As the day has progressed, as more and more angry people signed petitions and took to Facebook and Twitter to express their concern, to urge their Congresspeople to say no to PIPA and to SOPA, more and more legislators retracted their support publicly...including both bills co-sponsors...leaving the cheese - the Cheese, in this case, being Lead SOPA sponsor, Texas Rep. Lamar Smith, to (hopefully ultimately) stand alone.
Stay informed. Know your rights. If you're angry and you know it clap your hands...right in the faces of your representatives. Worst case, kick them where it counts - by withdrawing your vote and support.
And then, if you're still mad, consider donating to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.