Twitter Twitter Toil and Trouble?

Can Twitter, along with other similar programs, lull us into thinking we know others? If one thinks of it, the idea of texting or emailing your daily activities in order to share them with others does sound fun. And too it speaks of a new idea about privacy. Privacy no longer involves a touch of secrecy, but discernment about who is entitled to know about us and what it is they are to know. In that the whole movement–I don’t think that’s the wrong word–begun with Facebook and MySpace and continuing with innovations like Twitter has made us rethink our concept of what is private and what privacy means all the while bringing a contribution to a popular culture too often relying on hiding facts, spinning them, or distorting them. Celebrities do it and politicians are very good at it.
But there’s another side to the Twitter phenomenon, one that I truly wonder is as much of a contribution. In fact, I wonder if it could be or become a problem. Is knowing people through the lens of daily activities or moods entered in bits and pieces really knowing them? True, I am over 30 and my perspective on the world includes the pre-personal computer world. But some realities are beyond generations, they exist–albeit I grant in modified versions–regardless of how old one is. Knowing someone is such a reality. I can know that my friend Sylvia walks her dog, drives to Santa Barbara, talks to her friend Susan everyday or drinks wine with dinner, but what does that tell me about her? What makes Sylvia special, how does she cope with adversity, what is she working towards, how has she grown over time, what has she learned from living? In short the kind of questions that would help me see, reach, touch her core, her inner self. It seems to me if we want to Twitter and know the surface of people’s lives, that’s fine so long as we don’t fool ourselves that we really know them. That’s much more involved.
And there’s something else that puzzles at me about Twitter: the time it takes to input activities. Personally, I can think of a lot I would rather do at a computer screen.