Twitter and the feel good machine

I use Twitter. Not very intensely but I do and I really like most of the people I follow. The system itself, due to its brevity, works pretty well for those prone to witticisms and concise communication. However, this is what puts me off sometimes: people use it in lieu of taking action of any kind. Case at hand, I just saw “Human trafficking must be stopped”. Sure, we all agree on that, however, the person who typed those words made a strong statement, felt good about himself (good intentions expressed in a concise manner) and then went on with his life, no action taken as a follow up, just feeling good about himself for making the world aware of something important. His next Twitter expressing his opinion about oil royalties (really, he did). How is the original statement about human trafficking useful in any way, shape or form then? What exactly does it do aside from enabling the person who typed it to feel good about himself and how he stands for “the right thing”? Another glaring example, the young person who Twitted “if slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong”, followed by a “Yo momma” joke. Is that the follow up mental process? “Slavery is wrong”, “yo momma so fat”? No action required. Just type a universally accepted truth and go on with your life, feeling better because you did “something”.

Twitter is also full of these axioms that state the most bland and inane personal opinions as “facts”. It’s as if an entire world of narcissistic typists just discovered some truth and they are ready to share their newly found wisdom with us in 140 characters or less. “feminism is the REAL patriarchy”; “Feminism is dead.”; “A majority of Americans against the construction of a mosque at Ground Zero” (this last gem, with no supporting data, courtesy of a Dutch person living in The Netherlands, no less). What bothers me the most, I guess, is that these statements are never prefaced with “I think” or “My opinion is”. Personal opinion suddenly acquires the status of data, or better yet, replaces facts and in turn, becomes fact itself. Come to think of it, this is also a common media tactic (turned into an art form by Fox News). It seems, to me, that if anything, Twitter has killed subjectivity and turned personal preferences in truth, as if all opinions were equal and indisputable.

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