Monday, September 7, 2009

The world is all a Twitter

As with many trends, twitter was one i was late to adopt, or actually to notice. Months after Twitter was what everyone was talking about, I still had no idea what it was. It was the same way when Facebook was the new big thing. Finally after hearing about it enough, I decided to check it out, just so I could know what it was. When I found out you were just supposed to write 140 characters about what you were doing at that moment, my first thought, was 'Who the hell would want to do that? It seemed a bit vain to think that anyone would even be interested in what I was doing at the moment. It took me months after that to get Twitter and consistently use it myself. (I prefer not to share my twitter account here, as it gets a bit more personal than this blog, but if you can find it, i'm both impressed and creeped out!)

Even though I still find it a bit exhibitionist to share with the world what you're doing, I find myself for some reason addicted. I only do it once a day, maybe twice, which isn't yet quite extreme. It's the people that tweet (what it's called when you post something on Twitter) constantly that worry me. It's like Twitter has replaced their real lives. With all the tweeting they do, I sometime wonder how they have time for a real life at all. I guess I like it because I feel connected with people that through geographical and time reasons, I don't have as much time to update on my real life anymore. It also is a bit satisfying to tweet that you did something interesting and exciting (and you aren't lying), and know it's out there for the world to see.

This brings me to a disturbing trend of people tweeting at times when their real life should have taken prescedence. There is this story: Where a woman tweets during a bank robbery instead of calling 911 . I think that when your life is in danger, and all you think of is going on Twitter, you have a bit of a problem. After that plane crashed into the Hudson earlier this year, passengers started tweeting about how crazy it was that their plane crashed into the Hudson river. If I were part of a disaster like that, Twitter would be the last thing on my mind. I think that kind of tweeting is a new spin on the old competition with friends. In elementary school coming back from summer vacation, most people would want to make their summer vacations soud better than their friends'. This is the new way to make your life sound more exciting than everyones' (and therefore make yourself better than them), but this time it's on a global scale. Also, in this new instantaneous culture, it's a way to let people know about major events when if they didn't know immediately they'd be offended.

It's not just us regular folks who use twitter. Demi moore, Ashton Kutcher, Britney Spears and Lance Armstrong are among a few of the celebrities found on Twitter (and most of them can). This article: suggests the ways in which it benefits celebrities to have Twitter accounts. It lets the fans know who they really are, sepearate from the paparazzi rumours that become more vicious every day. It lets them show what they're really doing without agents or any other intermediaries to get in the way. Of course, there's still the problem of fake celebrity accounts, posting untruths, but as of know it is mostly easy to determine which is the true celebrity. Celebrity twitter accounts also satisfy the sometimes rabid need fans have for anything celebrity. It also shows celebrities away from all the glitz and glamour that makes them seem a bit unreal. Twitter shows them do the same things as everyone else does, and it makes them seem more human.

There is one disturbing trend i've noticed recently while using Twitter, and I'm not yet sure of the implications. When you mention a product on Twitter, that product "follows" you. That means your tweets appear on their main page and they can see them. I think they use this for marketing purposes, though I'm not sure what they can get from my tweets that could help them with their advertizing. One real life example is when I tweeted about enjoying a certain video game, that video game started following me on twitter. I could block them, but I haven't. Realizing how Twitter can be used as a money maker has made me a bit more cautious about what I tweet.

Remember, my bloggers, that with any social media, there are risks. And hey, twitter gives us media junkies something new to talk about! That's something to tweet home about!

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Problems Solved by the Cell Phone

I was reading this book set in the late 90s, and I realized that some of the things that happened in the book would not be an issue today because everyone has a cell phone A lot of people even have one instead of a home phone. One of the topics for the writing sample that Humber students have to do is about how cell phones have changed our lives. Most people choose that topic, but reading that book made me realize that cell phones, like many other technologies have changed everything.

A lot of times in the book, the mother got angry with her daughter because she missed curfew and the mother had no idea where she was. If that happened, my mom would just call my cell phone and ask me where the hell I was, and when the hell I was coming home. In another scenario, there was an emergency and the daughter couldn't be where she had to be , and the mother had no idea where to call. Today she would just call the daughter's cell phone, and it would be a non issue.

During the same book, the girl was trying to carry out a forbidden relationship, which was proving difficult for her. When the guy would call her house, her parents would answer the phone before she could get it. If this happened today, the guy could call her cell phone, or she could call his cell phone, and her parents wold have no idea. E-mail would make a relationship that was forbidden that much easier to hide. The new technology of cell phones has made it easier both to separate and control.

Cell phones separate parents and children in that children can have their own number and parents don't have to be privy to who their children are talking to. A lot of my friends only know my cell phone number, because either I'm out, or I don't answer the phone at home. It's a number that's mine, no my whole family's. I'm never out of contact range, unless of course I'm in the subway where there's no reception. I think I'd have a lot less plans without my cell phone, because a lot of plans come up at the last minute while I'm out.

They add to control, because my mother can know where I am at all times. She calls me while I'm out to ask where I am, and who I'm with. Mothers used to ask those same questions, but they didn't have the power to ask repeatedly. I'm also expected to call before I go home, and my cell phone has to be on just in case. It is good in an emergency, because you can always contact someone and tell them what's going on. The only downside is now, if you're late and don't call, you can no longer use the excuse that you couldn't get to a phone.

I don't clearly remember a time when everyone didn't have a cell phone, so it's in hearing stories from my parents, and reading books set in the past to realize what it was like. There were so many problems, some of which carry the plots of books, especially in the teen years, that just don't happen anymore.

How cell phones have changed our lives seems like a really boring essay topic, but they like all other technologies, have opened up some possibilities and closed others.

Until next time bloggers,