Two working fingers and a smartphone

Sorting through my followed sites and blogroll yesterday, I made a curious discovery. Many of the erudite Russia blogs I followed (A Good Treaty, Putinania, and UCG’s blog, to name a few) had seemingly gone inactive in ’14, ’15, or early ’16. At first, I thought that perhaps these bloggers had grown tired of Russia and moved on to another subject. But upon closer inspection, I found that the Twitter widget in the sidebars of several “inactive” blogs was still very active, with Russia-related tweets from as recent as an hour ago!

This indicates not so much a lack of interest in Russia, but the trajectory of online debate.

It seems to me many blogs are struggling or beginning to struggle because the focus has moved to Twitter. It’s a pity, because blogs and forums allow for more deliberate contributions.

I often feel that the more debate and discussion is “democratized”, the more it degenerates.

Before the advent of the internet, to contribute to a debate, usually through a newspaper, magazine, or academic journal, you had to present your thoughts in a way that an editor would consider fit for publication.You had to have an informed opinion – or at least some semblance of one – on your subject. Otherwise, your article would have trouble getting past the editor. The internet enabled anyone to contribute. An exception lay with blogs and forums, where content had to be more or less coherent and cogent to attract readers.

Then along came Twitter.

Twitter, by contrast, allows people to spill their guts, instantly, about any topic. A single tweet lasts a few hours tops before being lost to the poorly indexed Twitter archives. The 140-character limit inhibits one from making substantial points while encouraging knee-jerk reaction. There’s absolutely no price to offering up your opinion to the masses. You don’t need to know about the topic, you don’t need to be semi-literate and you don’t even need to have something worth saying. All you need is two working fingers and a smartphone.

Some people celebrate the democratization of debate. They claim social media like Twitter “increases the amount of information at the fingertips of the ‘global citizen'”. Honestly, I won’t defend this sentiment intellectually and don’t agree with it personally. As a casual Twitter user I’ve learned that although there is an enormous amount of information on Twitter, there’s a deficit of useful information. Especially in regards to the Russia debate, what one gets on Twitter is soundbites, not sound analysis; superficiality, not significance. It’s a lot easier to tweet “Putin hasn’t been seen for X days! There’s been a coup!!!” than actually examine possible reasons for his alleged disappearance. Would you consider the former a worthwhile contribution to the conversation on Russia?

Twitter and I have grown apart substantially since I first joined the site back in May of this year, and the more I think about Twitter, the less I want to maintain my presence there. I spend my online leisure time, and increasingly my offline life, hearing ignorant people sound off about things they haven’t even bothered to read up on, much less understand. Debate has gotten wider, but also shallower. It’s a pity, but inevitable.

Thank goodness there are still some intelligent blogs out there.

#tenfingersandakeyboard

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2 comments

  1. “Sorting through my followed sites and blogroll yesterday, I made a curious discovery. Many of the erudite Russia blogs I followed (A Good Treaty, Putinania, and UCG’s blog, to name a few) had seemingly gone inactive in ’14, ’15, or early ’16. At first, I thought that perhaps these bloggers had grown tired of Russia and moved on to another subject. But upon closer inspection, I found that the Twitter widget in the sidebars of several “inactive” blogs was still very active, with Russia-related tweets from as recent as an hour ago!”

    Well, with UCG’s blog its easy – he is a lazy ass! 😉 (rus.: «лентижопый»). The RL stuff (new job requiring lots of work) also contributes to his sparse blogging. UCG takes the issue responsibly – when he blogs he delivers, with multitude of referential material, links and effort invested in it. Oh, and the topic must really pick his interest.

    With busy schedule and some other stuff to entertain himself in his spare time (heavy partying, he says!) its no wonder that USG has no time for real blogging – and his personality precludes him from engaging in the casual blogging.

    Can’t say a thing about Putinania (never went there) but with Kevin Rothroc (aka former A Good Treaty) its easier to explain. Now he has no need for a blog – he is paid real money for writing both for the Moscow Times and that RuEcho pro-kreaklian propaganda outlet (funded, to no one’s surprise, by George Soros foundation). For him using twitter is a must – to promote his (and his ideological allies) articles and to do the “research” for his future articles. And to diss Russia, of course!

    Unsurprisingly, he quite often hits the moral bottom in his attempts to sound “funny” and “witty”

    He also defended fellow kreaklian Russophobe Julia Ioffe after she (justly) got herself kicked over a twitt concerning Trump and his daughter.

    And to round up the portrait of the Rothroc Reborn – he also participated in funding of Alexey Navalny’s most recent presidential campaign:

    Given that there is absolutely no clear and transparent way to see whether these money will be spent on said campaign (which didn’t even officially started yet) and not spent in Jean Jaques caffe on Arbat street, we can characterize it as either an epitome of naïve liberastia or as a form of charity to poor, starving unemployed several expensive cars and apartments owning Lyosha Navalny.

    Normal person can’t use twitter for “conversation” and “human contact”. At max, you can use it to post humorous pics, pics of kitties/puppies/food/cars etc and for stealing other people’s twitts, as a way to highlight your own position on this or that issue. You can also use it to promote whatever you are doing on your “primarily” net asset, be it a web site, FB/VK page or community, or a blog.

    That’s it – the limit. Doing something more will without doubt drag you into a smelly swamp, leaching out all of your creativity and free time. Damage to your intellect and capacity to normal human interaction are also bound to be severe and even irreversible. That’s why I don’t have any “social media” presence and think that a person should keep one’s net footprint as light as possible, always assuming that someone is watching/could hack you.

    “I often feel that the more debate and discussion is “democratized”, the more it degenerates.”

    Twitter is absolutely fine with degeneration – it embraces it openly. That’s democracy it has trouble with, having its own very swift and ideologically based censorship.

    “Before the advent of the internet, to contribute to a debate, usually through a newspaper, magazine, or academic journal, you had to present your thoughts in a way that an editor would consider fit for publication.You had to have an informed opinion – or at least some semblance of one – on your subject. Otherwise, your article would have trouble getting past the editor. The internet enabled anyone to contribute. An exception lay with blogs and forums, where content had to be more or less coherent and cogent to attract readers.”

    More than a century ago great Czech writer and journalist Karel Čapek wrote a “guide to newspaper polemic”. You will be surprised how things failed to change since then 🙂

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    • Oh, and I feel that I should congratulate you and other regulars here with the impending Christmas… if you are celebrating it.

      Snow to the God of Snow!
      Gifts to the Throne of Gifts!

      Drink! Eat! Party!

      Like

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