Virtual Realities

Running in Circles

The esteemed editor of this magazine was not at all persuaded by my discussion of Twitter in the first installment of this new column (“Weiners and Losers,” September).  I would have been more than a bit disappointed if it had been otherwise.  Though I have been using Twitter in various ways for over four years now, I remain more than a bit ambivalent about the service.  As I noted, I had signed up for Twitter over a year before I began to post to it with any regularity, and it was some months after that before I quit using it almost exclusively as a marketing tool.  One of the more distasteful elements of Twitter is the extent to which it is cluttered up by the equivalent of e-mail spambots.  Some are entirely automated and represent no real human being; these, at least, are generally easy to spot and to block.  Worse yet, in the opinion of many Twitter users, are those people who follow everyone in sight in the hope that other users will follow them back, for no purpose other than to promote a particular website or product.  It’s possible for a person’s tweets to be interesting even if he does not interact with other Twitter users; a stream of tweets that is nothing more than p.r. or advertising, however, is rarely worth following (unless it concerns a product on which you rely).  To the extent that most people find Twitter enjoyable or even simply useful, it’s because the users they follow are...

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