Don’t mess with my re-tweet

Warning: soapbox moment

I woke up early today to get some work done before the “other” work took over the day (going to campus, teaching, marking). As usual, I spend my first cup of coffee trawling through my Google Reader and Twitter to catch up on the night’s news. Among these tidbits I found news that Heston Blumenthal et al. were now pledging to save the world. This is (interesting/odious/ridiculous) news, so I tweeted it.

A few hours later, paying attention to my Tweetdeck as I do, I noticed that two people whom I follow, and who I know follow me too (“disclaimer” [?]: one of them was my husband) tweeted the exact same piece of news.

Now the Philosophe and I have had numerous (philosophical) conversations about the business of re-tweeting, and the irritations that follow when people don’t observe the “rules”, which are really just the best-practice norms that we should be observing all the time: acknowledge your sources.

So I of course immediately thundered down on him that he had violated the code. To which, in his (just) defence, he said that he hadn’t seen that I had already tweeted it.

Fair enough. I imagine the other person hadn’t seen my tweet either. So it wasn’t a case of anyone not acknowledging their source, because that source was clearly not me.

But no. This is what irks me. For all the glory of Twitter as the news feed where you can filter out the crap and only pay attention to what you find worthy of your attention, what’s the point if you don’t actually pay attention to the people who you choose to follow? If there is “too much” out there, or if you are following too many people, then doesn’t that defeat the purpose?

Am I whining because I didn’t get my two minutes of re-tweet glory? Perhaps. But I’m much more concerned about this as a confirmation of the fact that social media platforms just encourage our narcissistic tendencies. Tweet tweet: as long as I’m making noise, who cares about the fact that someone else may be saying something which just may be worthwhile? (Or even the same bloody thing?) Is anyone actually stopping to think along the way?

From Neal Gabler’s very good, but depressing, essay on living in a post-idea world:

‘We have become information narcissists, so uninterested in anything outside ourselves and our friendship circles or in any tidbit we cannot share with those friends that if a Marx or a Nietzsche were suddenly to appear, blasting his ideas, no one would pay the slightest attention, certainly not the general media, which have learned to service our narcissism.

What the future portends is more and more information — Everests of it. There won’t be anything we won’t know. But there will be no one thinking about it.

Think about that.’