Studies like this one by Pear Analytics drive me batty. They concluded that 40.55% of the tweets they coded are pointless babble; 37.55% are conversational; 8.7% have “pass along value”; 5.85% are self-promotional; 3.75% are spam; and ::gasp:: only 3.6% are news.
I challenge each and every one of you to record every utterance that comes out of your mouth (and that of everyone you interact with) for an entire day. And then record every facial expression and gesture. You will most likely find what communications scholars found long ago – people are social creatures and a whole lot of what they express is phatic communication. (Phatic expressions do social work rather than conveying information… think “Hi” or “Thank you”.)
Now, turn all of your utterances over to an analytics firm so that they can code everything that you’ve said. I think that you’ll be lucky if only 40% of what you say constitutes “pointless babble” to a third party ear.
Twitter – like many emergent genres of social media – is structured around networks of people interacting with people they know or find interesting. Those who are truly performing to broad audiences (e.g., “celebs”, corporations, news entities, and high-profile blogger types) are consciously crafting consumable content that doesn’t require actually having an intimate engagement with the person to appreciate. Yet, the vast majority of Twitter users are there to maintain social relations, keep up with friends and acquaintances, follow high-profile users, and otherwise connect. It’s all about shared intimacy that is of no value to a third-party ear who doesn’t know the person babbling. Of course, as Alice Marwick has argued, some celebs are also very invested in giving off a performance of intimacy and access; this is part of the appeal. This is why you can read what they ate for breakfast.
Far too many tech junkies and marketers are obsessed with Twitter becoming the next news outlet source. As a result, the press are doing what they did with blogging: hyping Twitter us as this amazing source of current events and dismissing it as pointless babble. Haven’t we been there, done that? Scott Rosenberg even wrote the book on it!
I vote that we stop dismissing Twitter just because the majority of people who are joining its ranks are there to be social. We like the fact that humans are social. It’s good for society. And what they’re doing online is fundamentally a mix of social grooming and maintaining peripheral social awareness. They want to know what the people around them are thinking and doing and feeling, even when co-presence isn’t viable. They want to share their state of mind and status so that others who care about them feel connected. It’s a back-and-forth that makes sense if only we didn’t look down at it from outter space. Of course it looks alien. Walk into any typical social encounter between people you don’t know and it’s bound to look a wee bit alien, especially if those people are demographically different than you.
Conversation is also more than the explicit back and forth between individuals asking questions and directly referencing one another. It’s about the more subtle back and forth that allow us to keep our connections going. It’s about the phatic communication and the gestures, the little updates and the awareness of what’s happening in space. We take the implicit nature of this for granted in physical environments yet, online, we have to perform each and every aspect of our interactions. What comes out may look valueless, but, often, it’s embedded in this broader ecology of social connectivity. What’s so wrong about that?
Now, I began this rant by noting that these kinds of studies drive me batty. Truthfully, I also have a sick and twisted appreciation for them. They let frustration build up inside me so that I can spout off on my blog and on Twitter, providing commentary that some might find useful and others might code as pointless babble.
(Tx Lior for giving me something to get worked up about this morning.)
I think the same, and blogged about it too, but will spare you the link to mine!
Churchill liked statistics, he could make them say anything he liked, and the media does the same. They are just jealous of the power of twitter. If people like it then they can use it how they wish, and follow whoever is interesting to them. They can tweet whatever they want to, and people can follow them back if what they say is relevant to them. Power to the people. Lots love twitter. Regardless of what ‘statistics’ say they use it for. Who cares?
keep ranting. sometimes 140 is just not enough is it?
Interesting analysis of Twitter bringing in social grooming as a functional explanation. I too noticed the simplistic interpretation (and dissemination) of the “pointless babble” data, especially when other categories like “conversation” were significant.
I agree with the general thrust of your argument, but with one reservation. You say about Twitter that “the majority of people who are joining its ranks are there to be social”. Question: do we know this to be so? I would like to see some hard data backing up that assertion.
Without having seen any data, I suspect that a high percentage on Twitter are marketers, PR people, self-promoters and others who are there to “sell” something, even if indirectly. In fact, the so-called “pointless babble” may actually be part of that unstated commercial function. I have noticed that people on Twitter who are unequivocally in marketing and PR appear to be those who tweet the most frequently, often with comments and updates which the cited research would undoubtedly qualify as “babble”. One hypothesis to verify, therefore, would be that that the “babble” has a point — or at least a purpose and function. Some babble is “social”, as you suggest with reference to Dunbar, but it seems to me that a great deal of the babble is tacitly commercial.
Social grooming, phatic communications and status hierarchies are fascinating avenues of analysis from a sociological perspective, and can provide rich insights. It seems to me, however, that an a priori assumption that people are overwhelmingly are on Twitter for “social” reasons frames the analysis normatively. Do we know this to be so? If so, then that does tell us something. If not, I would recommend an approach that does not evacuate other hypotheses subject to demonstration, like commercial motivation. Indeed, the blurred line between “social” and “commercial” on Twitter should be a fascinating research subject.
That said, if your definition of “social” interaction encompasses “commercial” discourse, then your assertion is less open to scrutiny. Marketers indeed describe commercial messaging on Twitter and blogs as “sponsored conversations”, thus making the convergence explicit. I could be mistaken, but I sense that your definition of “social” interaction would be more formally restrictive.
The stats at the top of the page remind me of something from this week’s More Or Less,
We investigate one of the most-quoted – but least-understood – statistics of all: that “93% of communication is non-verbal”. It is the sort of thing men in trendy glasses say at management seminars.
Didn’t Edward Bernays say that “95% of statistics are made up on the spot”?
It’s Sturgeon’s Law! Sure 90% of science fiction is crap. 90% of EVERYTHING is crap!
Only he said crud because in 1951 one didn’t say crap in polite society.
This made me laugh — I’ve dealt particularly with many journalists (online and at conferences) who seem especially frustrated that Twitter isn’t a custom news-only stream — as if it should be.
I watch how these same journalists interact online and in real life, at how they *really* communicate, and marvel at how little of that interaction is news.
They generally seem baffled or nonplussed when I point this out to them.
Cognitive dissonance rules! 🙂
– Amy Gahran
How does “Thank you” not carry information (e.g. regarding the mental state of the utterer). If you are on the receiving end of an action or thing, and you say “Thank you”, that conveys much different information than if you say “This sucks!”. I simply don’t see how it has zero information content.
The term ‘pointless babble’ makes me think of people droning on about things no one could possibly care about.
In fact, Twitter was originally started to answer the question ‘What are you doing?’. The act of answering that question was intended to provide value & entertainment.
If I tweet “Just drank a ‘Slow Cow’ anti-energy drink, and am now calm.” Pear Analytics would qualify that as ‘pointless babble’ but it actually serves 2 points – 1, to entertain 2, to inform.
It’s hard to say what people will find entertaining, but if someone read my post – it’s provided a moment of entertainment. Additionally, some people might actually take it a step futher and seek out the Slow Cow energy drink, and even buy one. (that’s not only value to the consumer, but also value to the brand.)
Posted a similar story to Posterous: http://thejordanrules.posterous.com/my-thoughts-on-the-pear-analytics-twitter-rep
“Thank you” is a performative. It is a social gesture meant to signal gratitude. The statement may not be genuine, but it is still meant to serve as an act of appearing appreciative. It is not about conveying facts, knowledge, ideas, gossip, opinion, etc.
Of course, from a computational point of view, any bit is information. As is every social gesture. But the message is not informational, it is phatic. This is not to demean “Thank you” but to say that it serves a different communicative purpose. “This sucks” is an expression of opinion. What makes something informational is not whether or not you, the receiver, find the expression valuable, but whether or not it conveys informational content.
That said, a great deal of phatic content can also contain informational content. For example, “I had eggs for breakfast” on Twitter has an informational element to it. Yet, its structural purpose is phatic. That’s what makes the whole concept messy. Still, I would bet that most of what the study is marking as “pointless babble” is fundamentally phatic content that includes little informational value to an outside reader.
Thanks for the rant. Doesn’t much this babble fall into what Goffman called “civil inattention” — in a different and mediated version, of course. Those small and generalized gestures used to indicate to others that we acknowledge them and include them in our world — even if we’re not available for conversation? And aren’t there many more symbolic gestures that, twitter being what it is, will appear as babble, seem to say or claim little, and be directed at no one in particular? Aren’t there probably signaling gestures — inside jokes, references, “coded” forms of speech and vernaculars or idioms that would be babble to an outsider?
Seems to me that to read tweets for their content is missing out on the interaction — the pragmatics if you will, and as you say, performatives. But even if performatives fall under the category of doing by speaking, there are also simple illocutionary statements and self-referential statements that have a social function by virtue of being tweets: the medium de-couples the move/response dynamic of interaction, making it less probable that communication will be picked up and become an action system (conversation, social interaction).
Because there’s no binding in shared time, face to face, one might say that the appeal for a response (even if it’s just a nod of recognition) is left hanging. I’ve argued in the past that this simple fact: that communication contains an appeal to acknowledgment by others, drives a lot of the lowest-common denominator tweets: those that claim little so as to be familiar to many. The less one claims, the greater the audience (theoretically) that might have a response. Narrow claims are relevant to those who understand their meaning. But statements that make a broad claim, social and real news included, as well as those symbolic gestures, may be more communicationally effective in that they can be responded to by a greater number of people.
In this sense, much of the babble may not just be self-expression and self-talk, but appeals and non-specific, generalized requests for social recognition. The fact that one such response on twitter is the follow needs to be accounted for in tweets — many users are trying to *attract followers.* Hence a good number of tweets should be read for their social act as well as their content (as information or as convention).
If you tweet and no one is there to read it, did you communicate?
it all boils down, to me, to two things:
1) What is “content”?
2) What is twitter for?
“Content” means different things to different people, as does “meaningless babble”… i consider 95% of twitter to be “meaningless babble” but that’s just my opinion. So yes, part of the issue is what is content to each person on twitter. (tweeps? twits?)
But the other thing is what you’ve alluded to in your rant, about how MSM is pushing twitter as the next news content source. i dunno if you caught it, but back in June on the CNN show Reliable Sources, Howard Kurtz held an interesting discussion with CNN’s Rick Sanchez (whose broadcast makes me cringe every time i see it) and Greg Doyle from CBS about Twitter and the media. At the very end, Sanchez stated “Over the next year, what’s going to happen is that you’re going to see more focus and more filtering in Twitter… it’s too busy, there’s too much stuff going on, there will be a way you can get in there and say ‘look, I only want to talk to people about the NBA Finals,” or ‘I only want to talk to people about Iran.” and i sat there screaming at my TV “YOU DON’T GET IT RICK!!!!”
i love when people take online tools and repurpose them to meet their own needs… but i don’t think Twitter can be repurposed to be the Next News Outlet. it was never meant to be that, and it is used in such a way that that particular usage really isn’t possible. You have tweets from CNN about real news stories that will show up in a feed next to stories that Jeff Goldblum has died, when he’s alive and well. Online communication is great, but it can’t be twisted around to suit the purposes of one outlet.
(in other news, i’d LOVE to see a discussion on the changing definition at CNN of “conversation.” Sanchez states that his show is a “National Conversation” but i don’t see a lot of conversing… soundbytes do not make a conversation!)
To add something to Matthew’s point about the blurred lines between social interaction and commercial discourse, Twitter hasn’t created a phenomenon that didn’t already exist. If your friends and social networks are anything like mine, they include a fair number of people who own businesses or work for themselves. They live commerce. What I appreciate about non-f2f commercial discourse penetrating social discourse is that I can selectively ignore it without being experienced as rude or unpatriotic.
I’d like to see more conversations about the dominance of commercial discourse in our social and civic lives, with race, class, gender and age thematized there too. I wonder if others observe what I think of as our “ethos of the commodity.”
Below is an excerpt from the Lessons of Lucasfilm’s Habitat, written in 1990. Still holds up today almost 20 years later.
� Get real.
In a discussion of cyberspace on Usenet, one worker in the field dismissed Club Caribe (Habitat’s current incarnation) as uninteresting, with a comment to the effect that most of the activity consisted of inane and trivial conversation. Indeed, the observation was largely correct. However, we hope some of the anecdotes recounted above will give some indication that more is going on than those inane and trivial conversations might indicate. Further, to dismiss the system on this basis is to dismiss the users themselves. They are paying money for this service. They don’t view what they do as inane and trivial, or they wouldn’t do it. To insist this presumes that one knows better than they what they should be doing. Such presumption is another manifestation of the omniscient central planner who dictates all that happens, a role that this entire article is trying to deflect you from seeking. In a real system that is going to be used by real people, it is a mistake to assume that the users will all undertake the sorts of noble and sublime activities which you created the system to enable. Most of them will not. Cyberspace may indeed change humanity, but only if it begins with humanity as it really is.
I still quite like leisa.reichelt’s idea of “ambient intimacy”, which seems to wrap the interactions and content on Twitter up pretty nicely.
I would like to add, that in addition to the points made above, what Twitter is doing is acting as the first true social ground for the introduction and indoctrination of the older generations with the newer ones. There’s a perception that the simple usage of the internet (youtube, gmail, etc..) allows one to be termed a cybercitizen. But twitter is unique in that so long as messages are being sent, it generates the new closest to a ‘now’ or ‘present’ of a mass consciousness online at the moment as a natural byproduct.
I think there’s a self-correcting social mechanism we as humans incorporate when dealing with things going on in the present, as compared to creating messages that are to be consumed as time-capsules (videos, audio, email, etc..) As we approach a closer steady-state of a digital present, we each are more comfortable with our understanding of the online culture and our place within it.
The way I interpret the value of most social media, at least in terms of their “public sphere” function, is that the digestion of news and information is the critical function performed rather than the original production of news and information. Blogs, Twitter, and other various forms of on-line media allow the public to contextualize and distill value and meaning to their own cognitive database and the relational cognitive databases of shared understanding. Journalists may have a use for these environments, but the system itself is far more diverse and the population of the system is largely of the non-journalist variety. Jay Rosen’s notion of the citizen journalist is important in this respect, but I firmly believe that most participants in social media environments are doing what they do in other communication environments, discerning information of value to them, ignoring the rest, and digesting it for context.
The fact that these environments are interactive and multi-directional adds a value to collective definition work and the group digestion of information for the purpose of group identity formation and affirmation. Journalists who want to make it all about them are largely missing the point. They have a critical role in producing a framework for information, but unlike past uni-directional models of news, this dynamic provides feedback to shape the story and its impact from across rather than from the top (h/t to Rosen on that last analogy).
It’s simple really – substitute telephone or phone network for twitter and we might get similar ‘shocking revelation’, with perhaps even more babble and more self-promotion on phone (telemarketing anyone?), with smattering of news etc etc.
The difference is Twitter is public and visible enough to be ‘analysed’. But that merely makes the report authors Luddites with analytics.
Curiously enough, I found this quite useful in that ots a first attempt to analyse “Signal to Noise” (S/N) ratio on any particular Social Net. As S/N is a fundamental cornerstone of Information Theory, this may be imperfect data but its at least a start. It would be fascinating to compare S/N ratios in different SocNets, different circumstances etc – I have a hypothesis that Friendfeed died because its S/N was even worse than Twitter’s for example.
To me the movement of the SocNet sphere for “fluffy” to “hard” mtrics is very necessary if it is to be more than a VC punt-funded business model
The other reason this area is useful is it is required to understand filtering. We know that the biggest problem with the “flow” or “river” of news problem right now is that there is too much of it. What isn’t measured isn’t done, but at the moment there are virtually no quantitative metrics of quality rather than quantity.
I have, of course, blogged this aspect 🙂
Twitter seems to inspire more hatred/backlash than any prior social web platform.
So the haters jump on a stat like this.
Given very recent Twitter trends, I’d be more curious to see what percentage of tweets are spam– I suspect that number would come as a surprise to many and prompt Twitter into providing us with a “Mark as spam” button, similar to Craig’s List.
As far as the Pear study, my first thoughts were similar to many on here: even in sharing links and other useful information, there’s a lot of social niceties that get shunted into the “babble” category. And that one person’s “babble” is another person’s “useful information.
The sad thing is that studies like this get so much press, they help shape people’s opinion of Twitter before they’ve actually tried it themselves.
I don’t think everybody can write real life thoughs on Twitter & their is no guarantee how many peoples can read your tweets. Some peoples are posting their thoughs on Twitter for just a timepass.
Danah, I wrote up a debunk on this same Pear finding but found my traffic was wanting. So I recontextualized it around sex.
Amazing how many more people will a business debunk if you use sex as a proof of concept. And yes, in sexual affairs… 99% of all communication and signals are useless drivel… which makes each and every tweet – foreplay… http://bit.ly/321sex
I like your point about analyzing everyday conversation. I live in a house with a wife and four daughters and I SWEAR that 98% of the yapping that goes on is utterly pointless. But hey, they are having a great time relating. Who am I to interrupt. Back to the man cave.
One student’s necessary human social interaction is his authoritarian grade school teacher’s pointless babble!
Of course, saying yes sir / no sir afterwards to the school principal might also be categorized various ways…
Someone had to say it and you’ve said it perfectly. Thanks danah.
wondering if Pear gave a definition of babble? it’s the babble that makes us human and makes Twitter so interesting imo
Despite this, my feeling is that Twitter would be irresistible to a colonial printer. Great post, as always.
as blogs went, so go the micro-blogs of Twitter. Same pattern. Same reasons
Looking over your own tweets one can see a decline in babble & an increase in other “information” categories
I also reacted negatively to this Pearanalytics report on Twitter. Did you know that tweets containing resources (such as sending someone to another website or to someone’s blog post)are considered “pointless babble” since they don’t contain a “RT” or “@” in this?
Today I decided to create my own Twitter survey using the Pearanalytics criteria for each category. When I analyzed the most recent tweets from the people I am following, my percentages were quite close to those in their study.
I created my survey as a Google Doc. It is available for others to use at this website: http://docs.google.com/View?id=dfzz97d8_28gmfkm45f
I’m sure there are many better ways to create a survey. If anyone has suggestions for me, that would be great.
the adage “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” has a corollary:
“one man’s news is another man’s pointless babble”
I love twitter! I just added it to my business and it is really working well!
I have never used twitter but I am going to get started pretty soon, I think it will help my business as well.
With all the twitter buzz going on I’m definitely doing it now. Seems like the norm these days if you own a business, if you don’t have a twitter account for it I think you are losing out on clients and just business in general.
Agree completely with your commentary on “the point of pointless babble…” Twitter (and similar) mechanisms serve several functions, in addition to the (however much or little) ojective information they carry: to provide/weave/enmesh a ‘social fabric’ or ‘ambience’ on which our conversations have context.
In person, we use other cues (after all, we developed color vision primarily as a method to read emotion/signalling in other humans’ skin tones) [see “The Vision Revolution” by Mark Changizi]. We use many parts of our senses to provide context and “baseline meaning” to our daily social interactions, which can often be grunts or other less well defined utterances.
From my pov, one of the “building blocks” of Twitter/blogs/etc is the “continuous threaded nature” of these ‘conversations’. At the same time this is a challenge: how hard is it to step into a conversation at a party and pick up on “the thread?”. Joining a series of tweets often requires some backtracking to ‘get the picture’. All this points to what tweets/blog posts, etc. are really building: contexual immediacy as a bed for further conversation.
Once built, this “bed” allows for very efficient communicating, since context and mutual understanding have been established.
I use Twitter in several rather different ways: that’s part of the beauty of such a tool, and probably part of why it has achieved the following it has: it is adaptable and useful.
Perhaps a good way to clarify what is going on with Twitter is to consider that it does not work as a “media” in any conventionally defined sense. It might better be framed as technology assisted social communication.
That puts it into the same thought bin as the agora, the 15th century coffee shop, the Royal Academy in the 18th century and the madrassa and high school of today. While there are many emergent “purposes” of twitter, they are the result of the interactions.
I think I’ve found that communicating is much easier without the implicit stress of requiring a reply. Adrian said “Doesn’t much this babble fall into what Goffman called “civil inattention.” I think “civil inattention” implies “no reply necessary.” Once that implicit stress is removed, it removes friction from the exchange. As Twitter time shifts conversations it removes the time constraint. As the internet makes space irrelevent, it removes the space constraint. What is left is what people do in the absence of time/space constraints, under conditions of low proximate stress.
As for it being mostly babble, as has been said above most of human conversation is babble, until it’s interesting-to-me. It’s similar to the problem in physics of non-locality and electrons that are in two places at once, until you look. If look = measure = interesting-to-me, I think the metaphor holds.
Since I blog to and about the printing industry it shouldn’t be surprising that I see the world through a Print centered lens. But, I think the elimination of the implicit requirement of a response, helps explain why books reinvented science. It’s also the underlying notion that makes me think that new technologies in print will do that again in the service of education.
Instead, we should be dismissing twitter because it puts the entirety of one mode of communications in the hands of one corporate master.
I wonder if in the distant – or not so distant future – some one might arrange the Twitter pieces like in a puzzle and realize that “a previously unseen pertinent message” makes perfect sence…
What if a brilliant discovery shows up in all the seemingly pointless babble that was posted by young, bussiness, wise, old or otherwise common people who did not realize they were a part of cosmic communication …
How cool would it then be, that some where in that discovery this posting of mine may show up!
Yes I am coping this posting on Twitter even if it takes several tweets
I’m slow to learn and understand, on Twitter only since few weeks, so I’m yet trying to get the meaning of all that and then I wrote also in poor English, so if you don’t understand, it’s not your fault.
It seems to me that there, the babble are just pointless babble and are the most part of the contents. It is, in real social interactions (in the world out there), the “babble” could be good and useful social glue and grooming but in 140 chars written texts to the world there are no tone of voice, gestures, colour of looks and smells so they can’t become feelings and sensations that give meaning to the babble if you don’t know very well in the real reality the person who is babbling. At now I don’t know personnally and very well the other milions of Twitter users. So for me and now, Twitter could be interesting for the links to web contents by knowledgable people that could also have other web pages or blogs. To decide to follow someone I mainly judge the links also because it’s almost impossible to say something really interesting in 140 bytes if you aren’t a genius, a great poet or a true humorist or if you aren’t doing an emergency communication, b.e. “The world is ending in five minuts!” or “My house is burning! Sorry if I can’t reply in the next hours and please call the firemans!” (please don’t do that, but run to get an extinguisher and call firemans).
Also if they aren’t properly pointless babbles most of the 140 bytes sentences where some perfect unknown person tells the world what she/he is doing for me are meaningless. It is, twit like “I’m cooking the dinner” “I’m going to wash my old pants” “I have just combed the hair of my dog” let me feeling the same empaty for the pants, the hair of the dog and the person who writes such things, it is none.
Regards and keep going,
Only a little clarification. The last statement of my post was not only about feeling and empathy, but mainly about interest and meaningfulness. It is, in the examples of twits I made, for sure there are information, they’re not just babble, but they are absolutely irrelevant for me and the 99,9999999 % of Twittter’s users.
I’d like to declare fridays as Pointless Post Day, it’s the Casual Friday for Social Media!
See my declaration below:
I actually just wrote about this (see ReadThis.com) when one of my followers critiqued my own Tweets. Babble is part of being social…honestly admit I was a bit of a snob on this and had really never thought about it until my own posts were called out.
Never too old to learn something. 😉
“Conversation is also more than the explicit back and forth between individuals asking questions and directly referencing one another. It’s about the more subtle back and forth that allow us to keep our connections going.” Well said Danah.
I think each person might have used it for her/her own purpose. I like tweeting or retweeting resource or blog links and sharing with others. I also found my fellow tweeterers are sharing their links in a reciprocal manner, and that reinforce the connections amongst us.
I have also enjoyed your recent presentation of “Stream of Content”.
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I don’t agree… I left social networking sites when I realised it is mostly for egotistical social bores to tell me that they are ‘cooking tomato soup’ and whatnot.
The real sociable people are actually… well… er socialising! Social networking should really be called anti-social networking, as it’s sitting at a computer on your own reading dullard messages. It’s like a form of textual masturbation.
The reason some of us undermine the digital social realm is that it IS inferior to face to face meetings.
I use different forms of communication in different contexts but twitter serves no purpose but to inflate egos. I never realised some of my friends were so boring until I joined Facebook and Twitter, in reality they aren’t boring but on these sites they APPEARED to be. I’m a fan of Stephen Fry but I cringed at his immense online ego trip… it was vomitous… sorry Stephen!
It is better not to see someone for a while and then have a proper social meet face to face… it’s far more interactive, rich and exciting. To me interacting on Twitter makes me feel like someone who is autistic, i.e. no body language cues, and very limited emotional input. To me it is inferior, at least on the phone tone of voice is useful.
Twittering is like photocopying your diary and recording the sound of your own voice and posting this through everyone’s door within a 1000 mile radius. Is this not slightly egotistical?
Good day to you, Ms. boyd!
I’m a BS Development Communication from the University of the Philippines. I’m currently doing my undergraduate thesis about the Use of Social Networking sites and how it affects Face-to-Face Communication between highschool students in Los Baños City, Philippines. I want to focus more on the positive effects of social networking sites (how it promotes participation in conversations) and how highschool students use S.N as learning and information dissemination tools.
Just wanted to share, since I’m using most of your research studies as reference materials for my dissertation, and all I can say is they’re all very helpful 🙂
Ironically, I’ve read this article and all of the responses after it and would counter that the dialogue here about “pointless babble” is far more meaningful and intelligent than the pointless babble itself. As a girl of 15, soon to be 16, I’m supposed to be one of those who’s always “connected” and “hyper-linked” to (anti-?)social network sites on a seemingly 24/7 basis. Needless to say, I’m not. Is it because I don’t care about people’s daily trials and tribulations, and feel that my life is more important than theirs not to be bothered with gabbing about common interests and situations (or lack thereof)? No, I would say it’s because I 1) don’t have a lot in common with people my age and 2) feel there’s more important things to be concerned with than whether or not someone’s cat coughed up a hairball that supposedly resembles a religious figure or whatever.
I never discuss my personal life in public and tend to tune out those who do. I don’t care either what some actor/actress or politician is eating for breakfast or doing in the bathroom OR the bedroom (or with whom s/he is doing any of the latter!). For me to have any interest in (and therefore use) one of these services would require some meaningful connection to something truly important (usually some world event or culture item — the recent deaths of Whitney Houston and Elizabeth Taylor come to mind) that has a personal significance to me as well as a greater impact upon society.
I don’t use Twitter, Facebook, Google Circles, or any of their ilk; if I were, it’d probably be to contribute valid articles and heady opinions to the global discourse, or “follow” organizations like the ACLU, amFAR, and Greenpeace, rather than give a twit about “BFFs” and their bathroom habits, or fake that I share a genuine interest in Justin Bieber or Jersey Shore.