STEVE INSKEEP, host:
Turning now to tweets - that is, of the instant messaging variety. Twitter is all the rage in social networking, although it has MORNING EDITION commentator John Ridley twittering with rage.
JOHN RIDLEY: At the risk of sounding like that old guy in "Gran Torino" telling those young punks to get off my lawn, it's gotten to the point whenever I hear somebody talking about Twitter or twittering or tweeting, it just makes my little tummy want to hurl. I haven't tweeted once in my life, but I'm sick of hearing about it already. What once may have been the cool way of letting a hundred people know you're about to go mow your lawn now has the feel of a used-to-be-fresh means of communication, so yesterday, like two-way pagers and AOL.
To be honest, I think Twittering jumped the shark long before ultra-hip CNN got into a Twitter match against super-down Ashton Kutcher, back when politicians started live-tweeting responses to the president's demi-State of the Union address, Twitter had already taken on all the cool of your mom getting a tattoo. I imagine, I hope, Twitterers are ultimately headed for the social networking retirement home that's the current residence of Second Life and MySpace. But my real issue with social networking sites isn't their faddishness. It's the hypocrisy that goes with them.
We claim to be a nation of people who take our privacy very seriously. Just mention the idea of warrantless wiretaps and expect to get hit up with a congressional investigation. But give somebody an avatar and a URL, and they can't tweet, post or hyperlink enough personal information about themselves to as many people as possible. Seriously, does valuable broadband space need to be taken up with announcements in that creepy Facebook third-person-ese John is enjoying two-for-one margaritas with the rest of the IT Team at TGI Fridays?
Where is the expectation of privacy anymore? Or, more correctly, where is the expectation that people will keep their private nonsense to themselves so that those of us who still like to communicate personal information with one person at a time don't have to get caught up in somebody else's email circles or listen to their one-sided cell phone conversations? No, I don't know what's hipper, to Facebook or to Twitter. I just know for me, personally, discretion never went out of style.
INSKEEP: Commentator John Ridley is founding editor of thatminoritything.com. And after ranting about tweets there for a little while, we need to mention that he has a blog called Visible Man at npr.org.
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INSKEEP: It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News.