The Slowest Twitter

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 14.472% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

Three days a week, I drive down to the hospital to take place in cardiac rehabilitation – or, as we call it, “The gym with electrodes on.”  My therapy is basically going to work out with a monitor slung around my neck so they can rescue me should I stroke out.
(As one of the nurses said, “If your heart fails, you’ll get to watch your death right here in real time.”  To this day, I’m shocked at how well she clued in to my sense of humor.  Or maybe she just terrifies nine out of ten patients and lucks out on me.)
But like all gyms, the cardiac rehab center has a couple of TVs blaring the morning news shows, and what shocks me is how these news shows are totally like an inefficient Twitter.  It’s basically a soupcon of media references, news links, discussions of the day’s social uproars, referendums (“What do we think about this trend in movies?”)… but to me, who’s used to flipping through my Tweetstream and picking out the best and most interesting links, it’s just totally slow.
But it’s basically the same thing.  Twitter is steaming about the dumb thing some guy said in an essay?  Well, Good Morning America is talking about some dumb thing some politician said in a speech.  Is there some news on the next Catching Fire movie, or a photo of the new Batman suit?  Well, I heard it twelve hours ago on Twitter and saw the picture, but it’s basically the same thing.  Is there a round table where people are discussing the pros and cons of some social issue?  Well, that’s the back-and-forth I get when people post links to their blogs on whatever topic’s caught fire today.
My Twitter is a little more news-oriented, because I’m a little more news-oriented, but it’s essentially the same thing.  But whereas I can stuff a whole news cycle into ten minutes of skimming and clicking on Twitter, after an hour with my eyes on the TV I’m still waiting for the inevitable “Did you hear about the Sriracha plant?  Isn’t that nutty?” that was emblazoned all over Twitter yesterday.
And it’s like, “Do people just find this comforting? Why would people watch this when there are better alternatives?  I mean, I get why it’s on in gyms and airports, because it’s inoffensive and you don’t have to pay attention, but who’d put this on first thing in the morning?”  And I wonder if it’s because they don’t know about Twitter or RSS or Facebook, or have found those options somehow lacking, and yet it’s weird to think that at the core, these mass audiences and I are seeking much the same forms of entertainment but this is so different in style and substance.
It’s not a coincidence that these morning shows have made Tweets a part of their cycle.  They are Tweets.  Just extremely inefficient ones.


  1. Carmel J.
    Nov 13, 2013

    These definitely are the mindless discussion of TV, designed to be background noise. Pre-Twitter (heck, pre-broadband) these worked to be something to have on so that I wasn’t feeling alone while doing some housework in the morning. You always know who the hosts are, and spending this time with them is why they become like friends to all the housewives and retirees. They are part of the Morning Routine, and if you don’t turn on the TV the house will seem a little *too* quiet. (I have to admit though, Headline News was more what I’d watch before I discovered NPR and Morning Edition. Both are the same thing, just a little higher on the “requires thinking” scale. Morning talk radio is probably on the same level as these shows though.)
    Yeah. The people who leave home to go to work M-F, 8-5 forget that there’s an entire world dealing with the people who don’t leave home and go to work during those precise times. This is one of the things I love about being a housewife. Now to go take the kids and interact with that world a bit. 🙂

  2. Marc
    Nov 16, 2013

    Very shortly, because twitter is not really more efficient, is actually a quite inefficient way of getting the news. 🙂
    In long form. Twitter is maybe perfect for you because you are an online creature, with plenty of friends all over the place that tweets the stuff that you want to know about. Moreover you took the time and the effort to sort out the various feeds from all over the web.
    Even with all this preparatory work you get the stuff that you are interested by clicking and exploring your news feed for 10 minutes. No multitasking here, no cleaning the house, making breakfast etc.
    What the news are is an aggregator prepared by somebody else. Like your beloved Roger Ebert with the movies. They do the hard bit, hopefully checking is the news are reliable, and you get the results.
    That superior speed is not really a competitive advantage. Not for the average person. The real competitive advantage of the web is the extreme customization.
    For me the best way to get the news remain a good radio. 🙂

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