Monday, March 30, 2009

Twitter Me This: Why Is Twitter's Popularity Surprising?

So today's Washington Post has yet another article about how stupid Twitter is, this time in the context of sports. Ok, ok--we get it--Twitter is stupid. Who the hell cares about what you or I had for breakfast, or that we're stuck in traffic, or how we were walking down the street and suddenly a piece of meteor just fell out of the sky?

Well, based on the amount of press coverage Twitter is getting--plenty of us care.

My question is this: why is Twitter's popularity surprising? If the minutiae of people's lives isn't interesting to us, why the hell is reality TV the ridiculous phenomenon that it is? Why do billions of people read The National Enquirer, People, etc or watch Oprah or Barbara Walters or engage all manner of other voyeuristic behaviours? Because we're nosy and like to know what goes on in other people's lives. We want to know that Jon and Kate got two new puppies, and that one of them piddled on the floor and one ate a toy horse. We want to know that Britney bought not one but two Frappucinos. We care that Jennifer Aniston decided to throw caution to the wind and eat a cheeseburger and fries.

Basically our whole entertainment culture revolves around the stupid trivialities of people's lives. Add to that the fast pace of life today and the fact that people spend most of their waking lives either on cell phones or on the Internet, and what do you get? Twitter.

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