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2009-07-16 digital edition

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2009-07-16 / Community News

Twittering

Have you heard about Twitter? It is the newest digital time-waster designed to hi-jack people's lives. I'm not saying it isn't a great tool for people to see just exactly what you are doing every half-hour or so. It's wonderful to be able to track your favorite celebrity's every move, but in 1999 we called that stalking.

What puzzles me is that anyone would want to let complete strangers know where they are and what they are doing at any particular moment. I thought it was creepy when Santa Claus knew when you were sleeping and if you'd been good or bad.

"Yes," these fanatics tell me, "but you don't have to let strangers see your Tweets." The problem is that many people think that if they have heard someone's name or carry their business card, they are no longer strangers: As if axe murderers don't have jobs or names.

It's become a status symbol to have a high number of "followers" on Twitter, so why wouldn't you adopt someone as a friend just for follower bragging rights?

Tweets, by the way, are the posts made to your Twitter account. These posts have a limit of 140 characters; just enough to let someone know that you are taking the dog for a walk, or taking a shower, or leaving for Jamaica tomorrow. Presumably, this is so your followers will know where and when to send a hit man.

I Tweet regularly (which sounds obscene) but I'm not really sure why I bother. My PR people, my husband, the loony lady that lives in my head, and a toothless old woman that smiles at me on my way into Walmart, tell me that I must use every tool at my disposal to promote myself and my column. I have a total of four Twitter followers and one is my husband, so I fail to see how this will further my career in any appreciable way.

Also, it's kind of irritating to realize that if Twitter is the tool and tweeting is what you do with it, then - I did the math (or English) - those who use Twitter to Tweet must be referred to as Twits. In 1999, this was considered an insult.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not against letting friends and family know what is going on in my life. In fact, if I've just gone somewhere warm and tropical, I can't wait to show off my sunburn.

On the other hand, I don't really think anyone I know would be interested in what stain I found on my daughter's skirt or how I conquered the garbage disposal.

I suppose if I lived in the Amazon and was living with a remote primitive tribe of natives, my life might be more interesting to the average National Geographic reader. I wonder if they still have dial-up in the Amazon.

Perhaps the stains I found there would be so unusual that women around the world would tune-in just to compare. Or maybe my means of disposing of garbage without regular trash pick-up would be noteworthy to a certain small percentage of people.

In 1999, when someone wanted to know such details about you, we called them nosy and told them to mind their own business. Now we invite them to view a news feed.

My fellow twits, may I simply encourage you to Tweet only high-minded profound thoughts and nuggets of wisdom that will benefit our superfluous society and provoke thoughts that will lift our generation up rather than plunge us into a digital swirl of the mundane?

For an example of such highminded and profound thoughts, see my Tweets by going to www.Twitter.com/LauraOnLife ... and if you wanted to become my follower, I wouldn't consider you a stranger.

Laura Snyder is a nationally syndicated columnist, author & speaker. You can reach Laura at lsnyder@lauraonlife.com Or visit her website www.lauraonlife.com for more info.

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