Too cool for school

Where does that quote come from? Anyone, anyone? (bueller, bueller).

I don’t want to go on about this in too much length but, and I think this may be true for others, the reason there is so much noise about the current crop of social web applications (yes yes, Twitter, Facebook yadda yadda yadda), is because a lot of people still aren’t 100% sure what to make of them. It’s easy enough to dream up uses but it’s whether you can streamline them into your ‘online workflow’ that seems to be the make or break point.

And despite my best efforts I haven’t managed to do that, my tweets are random at best, and I only visit Facebook when someone interacts with me (pokes, bites, points or ‘friends’).

That said, it is possible that the backlash has started. Sure, it may all be a coincidence but I’ve noticed a few disparaging posts about said “social web”, and have also spotted mention of people deleting their accounts. This is different from the usual backlash that kicks in when anything new is mentioned, instead this is from people who have been using and involved with these websites. This is different because they actually have an idea of what they are talking about.

I’m sensitive to these things as they may, or may not, aid me in my continuing battle to gain an ounce of street cred.

All of this ties, somewhat, neatly into a conversation I had this morning. We were discussing the pop culture of TV and I happily admitted that programmes like Star Trek, Buffy and so on, all failed to impress me. What I didn’t admit was that part of me was secretly pleased that I was in the minority. After all “nothing is any good if other people like it(yeah, it’s elitist, so what?).

So is now the time to say “I hate Twitter”?

Or, in a nice twist of irony, does the fact that other people are already saying it mean I now need to take a completely new and separate stance. Ultimately, am I too cool to hate Twitter? This is getting confusing.

And yes, I admit that the very idea of me being cool (or whatever word the kids are using these days) is somewhat laughable but it’s nice to THINK I could be at least ATTEMPT to be cool.

I can still remember the first instance, the start of this battle if you will. It was back in primary school, and, as was the trend in Primary 7 that year, a bunch of us were attending a record night (essentially, a party to which everyone took their records and singles, the clue is in the name). Someone had taken along a copy of the latest Stevie Wonder track “I just called to say I love you” and it was playing when someone asked me why I wasn’t dancing.

“Because I don’t like it, it’s rubbish”

The room didn’t fall silent but it did raise a few eyebrows as I’d just expressed my disdain for the current No.1 single. This was back when that actually meant something, so to speak out against a song that held the coveted No.1 slot was fairly radical. OK, I may be dressing this up a little…

However it was the first time I had the guts to go against the crowd, and it felt good.

It was only years later, as I slowly added some of the older Stevie Wonder albums to my CD collection that I realised that I hadn’t really been that outspoken. It was, and still is, one of the worst tracks he has ever released as a single.

17 comments

  1. I think my argument with this is the same as other arguments (which I’ll come on to in a sec).

    And funnily, I think it ties in with the punctuation of that line “Because I don’t like it, it’s rubbish”.

    See, if someone had wanted to say “Because I don’t like it AND it’s rubbish”, I would have punctuated it ‘Because I don’t like it. It’s rubbish’ whereas the way you’ve punctuated it, I think it reads ‘Because I don’t like it*, therefore it is rubbish’

    It all depends where you put the emphasis.

    And that’s what I have the main problem with. Yes of course there are applications and communities and things that I find fit my personality, needs and agenda better than others. Similarly, there are songs I like, and movies I don’t, and TV I watch and some I choose not to.

    But that’s just it – if they’re useful, I use them. If I like them, I watch them. If they aren’t, or I don’t, then I just, you know, don’t.

    I just don’t understand why people feel the need all the time to make all these statements (and I don’t mean specifically you, Gordon, it’s a widespread thing, I guess we should blame blogging) that basically add up to ‘I don’t like it (ergo) it is rubbish.’

    I have to deal with this all the time with people talking about TV – not content to choose not to watch it or to choose not read about it, they feel the need to prove to everyone else who DOES enjoy those things that they (the non-liker) are intellectually or socially superior to them (the likers).

    It’s like… Some people say that liking or not liking Big Brother (or Twitter, or Macs, or whatever) is like the fact that people either like or don’t like Marmite.

    But it’s not, is it? Because if people don’t like Marmite, they don’t have a tendency to seek out people who DO enjoy Marmite and shout at them about how much they personally DON’T like it, how HORRIBLE it tastes and how therefore WRONG other people are for liking it.

    Whereas people who find things they don’t like on the internet feel obliged to belittle anyone who does like or find it useful through the same medium. So they send an update on twitter saying ‘Deciding that Twitter is boring and shit and not knowing why anyone uses it.’ – or they create a facebook group called ‘Facebook is rubbish and for losers‘ or ‘People on Facebook who think LinkedIn is much better‘ – or they write a blog post about how all blogs are stupid and other bloggers are laughable for blogging about blogging – or they search out a TV forum just to tell anyone there talking about TV that they’re a waste of oxygen and etc etc etc.

    Sorry, Gordon, this really isn’t about you – you’ve just hit on something that’s been driving me crazy for quite a while.

    Ahem.

    (*Whatever thing it is in this situation)

  2. Hating Twitter is so six months ago. Keep up. I have yet to write a full dismissal of facebook beyond a brief post asking, simply, why?

  3. anna: OK. My bad. My punctuation was wrong.

    Re-read as “I don’t like it. It’s rubbish”.

    I was not meaning to imply that just because I don’t like something that it is, therefore, rubbish.

    I’m not THAT cool..

    As for the rest, well said! Bravo!!

    And don’t apologise. It’s not cool.

    Dragon: I feared that, hence the pondering of whether I now need to be beyond that but it looks like I’m already behind the curve that I’m ahead of.. or… ummm.. summat.

  4. Twitter is awful. Even the name is bad. As if “twittering” were a good thing. Who ever thought of making a virtue out of mindless chatter?

  5. Gordon: I might have been lying.

    Twitter is, well, I don’t know. I’m using it more than I was (although you wouldn’t know that because you never bothered adding me and the answer is yes, I did follow the blog link you posted in Twitter! Before you even asked if anyone did.) and found it very useful when I was doing my walk thing but generally, in many ways, I find it totally and utterly pointless. And annoying. But I can’t put my finger on quite why it’s so.

    Facebook annoys me too but that’s because of the design more than the purpose. I’m not sure the purpose of the site is necessary either and I fail to see how it could enhance my life.

  6. The amount by which I use various social network weblications (I’m so cool, I’ve made up a new portmantau – a ‘weblication’ is a web application) has no bearing on whether they’re cool or not. It’s how useful/interesting I find them, and also how much my social group are using them.

    On Facebook, about 20 of my real-life friends (I don’t have anyone listed as a ‘friend’ who I’ve never met) update regularly – sometimes several times a day – and so I’m highly motivated to keep visiting the site to find out what’s happening.

    In contrast, I don’t know anyone using Twitter, and so I don’t use it either.

    My guess about people abandoning social weblications is more down to its usefulness changing over time. Maybe their friends don’t update Facebook any more, or the messages on Twitter have started getting a bit too inane. And as such, maybe these people aren’t ‘first movers’ defining the trends, but sheep following them.

  7. Admittedly, I do use Twitter on occasion. Normally when swearing at work people.

    But do I like it? No, not really. Except for swearing on, and general mini-rants. Do I obsessively use it? No.

    As for Facebook, LinkedIn and the like, I’m on them, but again I don’t update them religiously, or anything like. Maybe I should. I just can’t be arsed with it all.

    I may have to think about this one a bit.

  8. Is there a “comment of the week” site?
    If so, I’d like to nominate anna’s comment. I feel the same about that kind of blog snobbery (not just about TV or social networking – it extends to just about everything!)

  9. I’m sure when you first mentioned Twitter on your blog I commented and said it was rubbish.

    I imagine it _might_ be useful if people “Twittered” (Twattered?!) at conferences or other events you couldn’t attend so you could get the gist; but no, friend, I don’t care what you’re doing, eating, or drinking.

  10. As someone who doesn’t keep up with the latest words in blogland and am therefore not cool I presume that makes me hot so I’m OK with that. But if twitter means ‘mindless chatter’ then your host dear readers, has been a past master at that since he was about 3 – I know – I was there.

  11. anx – agreed, it’s worthy of a blog post all by itself!

    As for the comment left by my dearest mother, this from the woman who says I should be writing a book – make up yer mind!

  12. anx, gordon, you’re lovely. It’s something I can’t really write about on my site because of various possible professional repercussions. It is an argument I clearly have very often in my head, though…

  13. You can write a book full of mindless chatter – look at Jordan, Colleen, Kerry etc. Might be rubbish but it brings in the dosh. Once your readers are hooked hit them with the second book that it more erudite. Felt strange you calling me a woman, don’t know why……?

  14. I think there is a situation which is neither the “Gordon” view nor the “Anna” view – or I may be misinterpreting, if so apologies – which causes a connection between what’s hot (or cool) and what I do and don’t like.

    It’s something I’ve noticed in myself, in that there have been phases of my life where I have been too bothered about following the herd, and then I discovered there was no pleasure in that. My problem is, using Big Brother as an example, is the fact that somebody somewhere has decided it’s cool. In actual fact, the viewing figures, even at its peak, is barely 10% of the population, and yet it figures so heavily in not only the tabloid newspapers but also the BBC and Guardian. I want to know why, when for example, more people watched a programme on grow your own vegetables that was on the same time as some ‘important’ episode of Big Brother.

    I can only surmise that there’s not a lot of money to be made from gyo veg, and, furthermore, those who are interested are that majority of the population over 30 whom the advertisers are not interested in targeting because they are less impressionable.

    I then go onto think that an awful lot of what is being touted as cool is actually just what somebody is paid to say is cool, in order to persuade me, the consumer, to part with my money. I don’t have infinite amounts of money and I already have expensive tastes. I’m not saying I’m not open to advertising and promotion, of course I am, but I like to think I can use my knowledge, experience and wisdom to analyse whether I actually want that product for its inherent pleasure/utility or whether I’m getting it to boost my self-esteem. I must be getting long in the tooth but I have discovered that consumption for its own sake actually makes me depressed and unsatisfied, despite a passing adrenaline rush, whereas activities that interest me boost my endorphins.

    I’ve never really liked being told what to do; I suppose I just don’t understand people who claim to reject traditional authority – politicians, priests, teachers, professionals – are happy enough to accept unquestioningly the dictates of people who don’t actually care about the consequences of their advice, except where it adds zeros to the bonus.

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