Why Twitter will always provide a more socially responsible reading experience than editorial media

So we hear a lot of whinging that Twitter is just about what people had for lunch. That’s fair enough! I often tell people what I had for lunch, but I don’t tell people where I get my curries from. That would ruin the secret.

Anyway, what I wanted write about here is based on this criticism, but I want to raise a directly opposite argument: Twitter will always provide a more socially responsible reading experience than editorial media.

People on Twitter know this already, what I want to flesh out is why.

The simple answer is that Twitter is social. Duh. That only half answers the question. The proper answer lies in the dynamic of production and consumption of each media source.

On the one hand, editorial media is produced by an editorial eye / mind / culture which seeks a dialogue at once with us as as a mass public (a nation or a city), but more precisely with us as individuals, in the very privacy of our mind. We’re free, as reading individuals, to click / read / watch whatever appeals to us in private, and so despite going to the Sydney Morning Herald to read a high fallutin’ argument about the economy of the Large Hadron Collider or some such, we end up clicking on Why Venus is the Gaga of Tennis (side note – why is it so cursedly easy to find examples of why the SMH website is a cancer on society? That search took 4 seconds).

As a converse, Twitter is produced by individuals who seek to show themselves as funny / clever / in-the-know / socially responsible. The key acts of Twitter-as-news-feed’s production – linking to a news article, retweeting that link – are about the user publicly showing themselves off.

So, what does this produce? Twitter will always be a service that has the space for tweets about lunch – but even those tweets will be by users who seek, in their own way, to make the public world better. Editorial media, instead, sells out the public at the expense of the private. And that’s why Twitter will always provide a more socially responsible reading experience than editorial media.

Image by flickr user ento

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