Exploring The Darker Side Of Tweets And Twitter

Tweeting — or micro-blogging on the Web site Twitter — has reached critical mass. Everyone from NPR's Scott Simon to movie star Demi Moore is doing it.

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MADELEINE BRAND, host:

Twitter is quickly gaining on popular Web sites like Facebook and MySpace. The micro-blogging site allows users to update people with everyday goings on in their lives - they are called tweets - no matter how small or mundane those tweets might be. Our humorist Brian Unger has his own tweet to share in today's Unger Report.

BRIAN UNGER: To understand Twitter, we'll use this How To Twitter instruction manual. Let's get started. First, ask yourself this question.

Unidentified Man: So, what are you doing?

UNGER: Then stop there. When you ask yourself the question, just answer: nobody cares. Let this be your starting point on Twitter. Let's review.

Unidentified Man: What are you doing?

UNGER: Nobody cares. See, it's simple. And now you're done twittering without having typed a single word. But shutting down the impulse to twitter is not as easy as it seems given this underlying, self-centered, narcissistic twittering belief.

Unidentified Man: Unfortunately, most of our day-to-day lives are hidden from people that care.

UNGER: There's that word care again. Most people are surprised to learn that friends don't care when you're showering, gardening or working out. There's a good reason these activities are hidden. Because they're boring and nobody cares. But...

Unidentified Man: What about people that want to know about the little things that happen in your life?

UNGER: These people are lying about caring. If they do care about the little things in your life, simply cut them out of your life, like a suspicious mole on your skin. Still feel like twittering? Let's use this example.

Unidentified Man: Meet Carla. She's addicted to her mobile phone, reads blogs everyday and has contacts all over the world.

UNGER: Carla is talking to those contacts and reading blogs while she's driving. Carla needs to be arrested and jailed for a night in a holding cell filled with dangerous criminals. This will help the rest of us get to where we're going without Carla slowing traffic. After a night in jail, Carla still wants to twitter. So, she goes to twitter.com looking for friends.

Unidentified Man: After finding a few, she clicked follow.

UNGER: It's like stalking someone, but without the inconvenience of sitting in a car outside their house on a cold rainy night with a loaded gun in your lap.

Unidentified Man: Within hours, she began to see a different side of people she chose to follow.

UNGER: And began to develop delusions of unrequited love resulting in anger and jealousy.

Unidentified Man: The little messages from Twitter painted a picture of her friends that she'd never seen before.

UNGER: Like the fact that they had relationships with real, three-dimensional people.

Unidentified Man: It was the real world. Her friends followed her updates and learned that she recently discovered a passion for Van Halen.

(Soundbite of song "Jump")

Mr. DAVID LEE ROTH (Lead Singer, Van Halen): (Singing) Go ahead, jump...

UNGER: And the mashed potatoes inside the mental institution where she now lives to stop her from blogging while driving, stalking people and most of all, talking to herself out loud, also known as twittering.

Unidentified Man: So, what are you doing?

UNGER: Today's Unger Report. I'm Brian Unger.

(Soundbite of song "Jump")

COHEN: Tune in next Monday for the final Unger Report. I don't think it's going to be on Twitter.

(Soundbite of song "Jump")

Mr. ROTH: (Singing) I get up And nothing gets me down You got it tough I've seen the toughest around And I know...

COHEN: Stay with us. NPR's Day to Day continues.

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