ALEX COHEN, host:
Well, maybe you will ring in the new year by what - posting a Facebook update or maybe Twittering from the party you're attending. OK, for the uninitiated, Twitter is a service that lets you microblog. In other words, you can send out a mass text message to anyone who cares what exactly you're doing between, say, drinking your coffee and brushing your teeth. Critic Andrew Wallenstein wonders why Twitter is so addictive.
Mr. ANDREW WALLENSTEIN (Deputy Editor, The Hollywood Reporter): The holidays are usually a time when all but my nearest and dearest fall off my radar screen as they retreat to their respective cocoons of family and friends. But it's just the opposite this year thanks to microblogging. It's as if everyone has nothing better to do than text a day-to-day, play-by-play of everything from sweeping up the pine needles in their living room to cleaning the wax out of their menorahs.
This time of year brings into sharp relief just how strangely mundane microblogging is. Don't believe me? Well, I'll just read from a sample supplied by over 400 people I'm connected to on Facebook, where people type what are called "status updates." The names have been changed to protect the inane.
Shari is motivating herself to go to yoga. Mike is organizing his shoes with a new shoe rack. Shane is going to attempt to drive up the icy road for the first time in a week. Bert is wondering why his daughter bought a bikini when it's freezing outside.
Yeah, it's an endless stream of breaking non-news, and here's the kicker - I am hooked. I check my friends' status updates like five times a day and post my own thoughts about five times a week. My wife, Lauren, has just about had it with my new habit. She got so upset with me about it over the weekend, I figured she should have her say.
Ms. LAUREN WALLENSTEIN: My husband and I were enjoying a lunch with our son at a restaurant, and all of a sudden, I look up, and there he is on his BlackBerry sharing all the day's events with his friends on Facebook instead of being with us and enjoying the day quietly and privately.
Mr. WALLENSTEIN: But what she feels is an invasion of her privacy, I see as participating in a potluck reality show - everyone contributes a little from their lives for everyone to feast on. Makes me feel connected to a community. But Lauren doesn't buy that. She sees microblogging as an outgrowth of our tabloid culture.
Ms. WALLENSTEIN: I call it the Lindsay Lohan theory: because tabloids feature the stars doing the most mundane chore, we're led to believe that when we do those chores, it's somehow interesting. And guess what? It's not.
Mr. WALLENSTEIN: It's strange to hear such resentment toward tabloid culture from someone who hasn't missed an issue of Us magazine...
Ms. WALLENSTEIN: I don't read Us. I read People.
Mr. WALLENSTEIN: Excuse me. I stand corrected, but she has a point. Microblogging can feel like a marathon group therapy session for exhibitionists. Still, it's a voluntary exercise in mutual voyeurism, only we're not doing anything worth observing. Absurd as that all sounds, I'm OK with that, but I'll let Lauren have the last word.
Ms. WALLENSTEIN: Look, people have always been obsessed with the 15 minutes of fame, the problem is, is that it's no longer 15 minutes, and it isn't real fame. Our day-to-day chores should not be interesting to other people, and if they are, you know what? Go see a dance performance, go read a book, or even listen to the radio.
BRAND: That is Lauren Wallenstein, the wife of Andrew Wallenstein, our deputy editor of the Hollywood Reporter, frequent commentator on pop culture. Lauren Wallenstein, by the way, is not on Facebook.
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