You can add Jack Dorsey and Biz Stone to the short list of people I need to punch in the neck.
For those of you who don’t know, Dorsey and Stone are the co-founders of the black hole that is Twitter. If you don’t know what Twitter is, do yourself a favor and stop reading now. You can save a part of your soul by continuing that blissful ignorance.
A lot has been made of Twitter in the media, how congressmen and reporters now “tweet” from meetings, court hearings or other events where it would be more beneficial to be paying attention rather than typing into a BlackBerry. One of the latest trends is for professional athletes to open Twitter accounts.
What a treat.
It was inevitable, I suppose. If Curt Schilling has a blog, then why shouldn’t Shaq have a Twitter? A guy as in love with himself as Mr. O’Neal couldn’t possibly be expected to avoid using the Internet’s newest SIB (self-importance-boosting) tool.
In reality, the Shaq Attack’s Twitter was in response to a guy named Ward Andrews, who masqueraded as the big man on the site before the fake account was shut down. The nice thing was, nobody could tell the difference; Andrews’ Shaq-isms were just as legit as No. 32′s ended up being.
However, I’m not so concerned that someone decides to impersonate O’Neal on Twitter as I am that people outside of Shaq and his agent even care at all.
See, if blogging allows a user to tell the novel of his or her life one chapter at a time, then Twitter tries to do the same but in meaningless 140-character bursts. Gilbert Arenas’ blog is “War and Peace” compared to the Little Critter-esque picture book. Mark Sanchez’s Twitter reads as:
“Back in cali, fired up for today! Ill keep you posted!
10:20 AM Apr25th from txt (sic)”
Please don’t. Aside from the blatant disregard for grammar and punctuation, I don’t care what my mother is doing right this instant, let alone an over-drafted quarterback from SoCal. People shouldn’t care Tony Hawk is buying milk at the grocery store or that Chris Paul is taking a dump. For some reason, they do, though. And not just the general population.
Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle suggested on his blog that Giants closer Brian Wilson’s blown save Sunday may have been due to late-night partying before the game. Of course, Schulman inferred this because he followed Wilson’s Twitter, which seemed to insinuate the pitcher was bar-hopping when he should have been in bed.
As a beat writer, I know you want every bit of information that you can get, but stooping to reading somebody’s Twitter seems a bit, well…silly. Wilson shut his account down soon after and told Schulman he had been tweeting “fictionally” from his hotel room while ordering room service on the night in question. That was most likely a PR move encouraged by his agent, because Wilson surely knows the only guy lamer than the guy who stays in Friday night is the guy who stays in and then lies about it Monday.
Schulman isn’t the only Chronicle writer bit by the Twitter bug, as colleague Gwen Knapp wrote a column Tuesday trying to connect Barry Zito’s tweeting with an improvement in his pitching performance. If Schulman’s Twitter-based conclusion was bit of a stretch, then Knapp’s was a pulled hamstring. Her reasoning was a restless soul like Zito was “stifling himself” and benefiting from the “spontaneous expression” allowed by Twitter.
Oh, please. The guy throws a ball for a living. All tweeting lets pro athletes do is prove most of them should consider themselves lucky to have been blessed with physical ability. In other words, free-throw shooting isn’t Shaq’s only weakness (ahem, spelling).
What worries me is the thought of washed-up or retired athletes deciding to tweet to try and stay relevant. I can only imagine how depressing a Brett Favre Twitter feed would be a few years from now as he fruitlessly tries to end another retirement:
“no one interested. Not even Wrangler jeans. :(”
1:22 AM June 13th from some dirty bar.
It’s not a pretty picture — assuming you can form a mental image out of a glorified text message. I’m all about communication and an athlete letting the fans know what’s on his mind. But if blogs were a step forward in that regard, Twitter is two steps back. It takes articulate and verbose athletes like Arenas and spits on their work with a flood of “driving to practice” updates and “lols.” I don’t want, or need, to know what you’re doing at all times, especially if it’s going to be conveyed with an ignorance of the rule of English language.
Hopefully, Twitter is just a fad. Or a bad practical joke that Dorsey and Stone will pull from the Internet. At the very least, could you pro athletes stop using it? It would save me a lot of stress — and a possible assault charge.
Adam is a sophomore majoring in journalism. Fed up with Twitter? Or addicted to it? Got a favorite athlete’s blog? Let him know at email@example.com.