Wallowing in my neophytical state with respect to technology, I remain fascinated by the demons of humanity that take new inventions and use them to bolster their own deficiencies.
Last night, my news.com handler, in an attempt to thrust me into the bosom of Techworld, led me by my shortest hairs to an elegant launch reception for Charlene Li's book "Groundswell", a measured and soothing work about the Twilight Zone that is social media.
There I encountered surprisingly well-dressed people, some of whom appeared to be famous and others who told me they were.
I also met a girl with a 9mm Glock. (Apparently, letting off steam with a real gun is far more therapeutic than paintball. Better for team-building too.)
At one point in the evening, I fell into conversation with an extremely well-known (and, frankly, hugely entertaining) editor of a much-lauded tech site.
While discussing the inner workings of several marriages in the tech world, a couple of seriously deranged affairs, Russian etymology and brie versus cheddar (no, nothing to do with Desperate Housewives, although, either way, I would be loyal to cheddar), he told me that he has an rss feed for any Twitter that mentions the name of his site.
I turned around for a translation. But there was the girl with the Glock. So please indulge me if I misspeak as to some technical detail.
However, as I understand it, any time anyone anywhere Twitters anything to anyone anywhere and includes the site name in his or her Tweet, the Erudite Editor gets a ping, pong, pang, or some other audio squeak created by Brian Eno to put him on at least an orange alert.
I tried to imagine the garbage the poor man must go through:
HOWARD COWARD IS SITTING IN HIS ONESIE AND BIB READING WEBSITENAME.
JANET SPLICEBONCE READ ON WEBSITENAME THAT DIGG'S GONNA B BIG.
So I asked him why he did this. Was it really in the hope that people couldn't help blurting his name to their furthest and sweetest? "Nyet," he said. (His Russian is excellent.) Then what? "It's one of the only ways I can find out if the site made an error."
Apparently, there are many wise people reading techy sites who, if they see something they think is not quite right, don't bother to contact the actual site. They just emit a Tweet to everyone they know. Which seems a curiously playgroundish form of nah-nah-na-nah-nah, you're not wearing any knickers, are ya?
I suppose the possibilities are endless. Or, rather, interminable.
Will we soon encounter mass bullying by Twitter? (TAKE THIS HEADBUTT, SCROGGINS. AND DON'T TELL YOUR MOM!) Will rumors circulate about us in a nanosecond, rumors that we will never hear about until it's too late (ELTON JOHN IS GAY!!!! SO IS GEORGE MICHAEL!!!)?
The strange thing is, so Erudite Editor tells me, that when he spots something on his rss Twitter feed that should be corrected, he contacts the Tweeter.
And the Tweeter is as surprised as the first girl who saw Kenny Chesney with his hat off. (I have nothing to confirm that this was Renee Zellweger.)
Perhaps the Tweeter even feels a bit of a twit. Perhaps.
In my naive moments (usually between dusk and dawn) I always think that technology exists to remove the irritants that have plagued us. Like typewriters, deteriorating body parts and spelling.
And Twitter undoubtedly has its excellent uses. Like attention-seeking, self-aggrandizing and keeping up with friends whom you can touch no other way at that moment.
However, I suppose we should always be prepared for the twit factor, in which humanity reveals its less than pretty chops and declares it's far more fun just to whine.
I just hope not every Twitterer has a 9mm Glock.