I’m not a twitter power user but people frequently ask me what it is and why would I use it. I used to tell them it was a ‘micro-blogging’ service. Of course that explanation assumes that the person asking the question knows what a blog is and why they would need a smaller version of one.
I have a new answer:
“We are the borg”
For those who are geeky like I and my wife* the borg were a human like species that merged the organic with metal, wore goth makeup and thought as a group. Twitter is our first evolutionary step towards becoming the the pale faced, laser wearing, funny talking collective that lived in giant boxes. Perhaps the borg have even come back in time and brought us this wondrous technology and destroy our lives.
Don’t get me wrong. I love twitter. Never before have so many voices been able to be heard at the same time. However, the negative is that now there are so many voices. Borg thought was shared among all members of the race. At the time the show came out that was a very disturbing scenario. However, social media has changed they way we interact with one another. Now when it is time to walk your dog, make toast, or attend the most conference ever you can let it be known to the collective.
Of course there is a downside to this. Whenever Jean Luc Picard and the brave crew of the enterprise would ‘rescue’ someone from the grasp of the borg that individual would feel lonely and miss all the voices in their head. All those power twitter users out there know what this feels like. A few moments or gasp hours away and . When twitter goes down it’s like that scene in Star Wars where Obi-wan says “it’s as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.” A blip in twitter’s operation shuts everyone up and we all get very lonely so don’t let that happen.
If blogs empowered average citizen journalists twitter put us all back up on soap boxes in the park each with one hell of a megaphone. No one need ever be lonely or unheard again. Famous people are on Twitter. Nerds are on twitter. Guys that ride bikes are on twitter.
Facebook gave us a way to connect with the friends we already have. Twitter gives us the power to connect with and listen to voices we may never actually meet. The result is a reduction in social friction. I don’t have to actually meet that expert ruby on rails programmer to engage in a conversation. Instead I get the opportunity to observe the thoughts and actions of anyone I like or admire (follow) all day every day. That might seem creepy or even pornographic to some, but like the borg I can carry on a conversation with hundreds if not thousands of interesting individuals all at the same time. So next time someone asks you “what is twitter?” Tell them “we are the borg. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.”
*Callie used to watch Star Trek Next Generation with me. Don’t let her deny it.