Wednesday, January 18, 2012

On the 18th Day, the Interwebs Rose Up and Congress Woke Up

I have never understood Twitter.

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.


Gaelyn said...

Seems like enough people did speak out.

I really don't get twitter either, have an account, don't look for me there much.

Ernie Hendrix said...

Twitter just doesn't do it for me. I'm not vain enough I guess to think that the world is even remotely interested in a 140 words or less message from me about what I had for breakfast or Lady Gagas latest weird outfit or what my opinion is of the Kardashians. (Don't ask). But I realize that Twitter has good points also, such as today's posts. But I, like you, don't for the most part want the constant background noise that that is Twitter.

(Ms.) Ernie

P.S. Glad to note that IE8 is now letting me comment on your blog!

Unknown said...

I was late to the party of Twitter, having started on in within the last six months.
What works for me is not taking it seriously, and using it as a way to drop in and eavesdrop on what people may be thinking at any moment. I may have mentioned I'm incredibly nosy?
I don't go back and read old posts much, but I occasionally message people. I don't have Twitter on my phone, only follow it on my computer, and usually don't stay on it for more than ten minutes at a time.
Most of the people I follow are bloggers, Kindle self-published writers or publishing houses and that makes for an interesting stream. I want to be a Kindle-published author myself one day.
My overall opinion of Twitter--it's fun! Especially when I see Jane has a tweet up!

cdnkaro said...

Are you familiar with Maddox. He's an ass, but he had an interesting post on the issue:

p.s. I don't get Twitter...and I have no time to add another high-maintenance social network to my full days-lol

alienbody said...

I'm very easily overwhelmed with Twitter...and, well...most things (ginormously so since thyroid surgery). I participate in spurts, Tweeting a lot and then nothing for days - weeks even. I also get turned off by all the angst - there is just so much of it, because I guess the negative is funner than the positive? Sometimes yes...but ALWAYS. Sheesh. I do, however, love it when it comes to groups like BlogHer, making it easy to get links to postings because of how they are listed.

I'm one of those rock dwellers. I knew about the upcoming black out in advance (having paid some attention), but the full scale/far reaching effects are still lost. Part of me smells scare tactics, like a government flexing power it isn't really ready to use - but wants us to know that they can. are awesome. work is done here. Have a nice day. :-)

Masked Mom said...

I have only ever been on a Twitter page once (when someone tweeted a link to one of my blog posts). I'm scared of it--primarily for exactly the reason you stated--if I want non-stop yammering, chattering voices, I'll spend the day inside my own head. :)

I was very pleased to hear that the blacking out and contacting and petitioning was successful. And I agree that the Patriot Act is something that could use some attention. It was passed quickly and quietly in a time of little dissent and we will all be living with the results long into the future.

Shona said...

I love Twitter! But yes, it is very fast-moving. However when I sign onto it, I don't try to read every tweet...just whatever happens to be at the top of my thread for the moment (that helps). I'm so proud of what the online community accomplished in regards to SOPA and PIPA (I guess we had something to do with it)! Just goes to show that Americans aren't as apathetic as we are made out to be.