I was stuck in the Newark Airport last week for an ungodly amount of time, when I came across a sign that drew my ire. It read: “Follow the Shops in Newark Terminal B on Twitter at @ShopEWRB.” Now, I don’t know how much of it was influenced by my travel frustrations, but I mentally launched into a Lewis Black-esque rant: Forget celebrities, news organizations and ordinary people. Now entities are having Twitter accounts? And not just any entity, the establishments of Newark Airport’s Terminal B — we’re talking the Illuminati of Currito Burrito, Hudson News and freakin’ Famous Famiglia’s Pizza.
Did some dude wake up one day and realize the world needs a constant update of the goings-on among the shops of this specific terminal of this specific airport? Did they think that there’s a person out there shrieking like a crack addict, “I NEED TO KNOW WHEN WENDY’S IS OPENING IN TERMINAL B OF THE NEWARK AIRPORT! I’M TWEAKIN’! I’M TWEAKIN’!” Oh, and upon further research, the shops of Newark’s Terminal A and Terminal C each have their own Twitter accounts as well. Do you think the three of them are engaged in turf wars to see who can gain the most followers? God, I hope so.
Quite honestly, this incredulously irrelevant Twitter account made me feel like a bit of a fool for being a Twitter user, and made me reconsider if I wanted to keep an active account.
At first, when Twitter started blowing up over the past few years, I stayed away. I thought its only purpose was to tell the world that you had a tuna melt for lunch or to be another outlet for celebrities to say inappropriate things — not my cup of chai. But through the pressure of peers, I got a Twitter account — first, only to follow the likes of Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon (gotta love ’em), before succumbing to actually tweeting in recent weeks.
One of the reasons I still keep a Twitter account is that it’s a one-stop shop for all my breaking news needs. Why visit CNN’s website to check on the global situation, then go to ESPN to check the latest sports chatter and finally hit up /Film to see the what’s new in Hollywood? That’s clearly too much work. I just wake up in the morning feeling like P. Diddy, check Twitter on my phone to get updated about Japan, see the latest March Madness results and discover that Jo Go-Lev was just confirmed as Alberto Falcone in “The Dark Knight Rises.” Our culture is transforming into one of unlimited access and immediate gratification, and Twitter allows me to drink the Kool-Aid.
The “trending topics” listed on Twitter are also nifty, showing what’s currently on the cultural conscious. I’d have been late to the Rebecca Black party if I hadn’t seen her trending on Twitter early on — it’s always fun, fun, fun, fun to be in the loop, knowing what’s on the mind of society.
The absolute best part about Twitter is that it has begun to dissolve the division between society’s kings and the serfs, the celebrities and the schmos. Stars who tweet have given the masses an unprecedented level of access into their lives — lives that were once walled off by Beverly Hills villas and squadrons of brutish bodyguards. Now you’ve got over eight million people following the Bieb alone, reading about where he’s playing, who he hangs out with (Jaden Smith, apparently) and so forth.
It’s permitted stalking, since the celebs are the ones deciding how much they tell fans about their lives, allowing for a yet-unseen degree of personal connection between the idol and the devotee — especially when they tweet directly back at individual followers. My own personal Bieber is Bollywood actor Abhishek Bachchan, who I now know supports Chelsea football, recorded a song for his new movie on Mar. 2 and (shudder) on Mar. 14, felt “so high like a G6!!!”
The sullying of Twitter’s brand is certainly a concern for my future usage, though. It’s like when your mom got Facebook, it became significantly less cool — knowing that a collection of stores in the worst airport in the Tri-State area has an account makes Twitter seem really unappealing.
Additionally, I feel like Twitter is increasing our disconnect from reality. During Michigan’s mangling of Tennessee last Friday, I kept thinking, “I should probably tweet something.” So I buried my nose in my BlackBerry thinking of clever things to say (giving up with, “Since when can stu douglass dunk?”) and reading clever things other people had to say about the game — but I realized I was missing the experience of actually watching it. I was too busy tweeting about life to live life, and that’s kind of worrisome.
At the end of the day, I’m going to keep my account going. Instead of abandoning the lamesauce ship that Twitter is becoming, by golly, I’m going to try my darndest to keep it snazzy while simultaneously attempting to curb my compulsion to tweet when cool things are happening, and experience them instead. Beside, I’m waiting for the day when I’ll think of something perfect to tweet at Abhishek Bachchan … OMG WHAT IF HE TWEETS BACK AT ME?!