OMG! Shut Up About Twitter Already

Micro-famous art blogger Paddy Johnson recently hepped her readers to a social networking application that actually makes Twitter seem relevant and interesting — at least to me. It’s Cursebird, a “real-time feed of people swearing on Twitter,” and it is awesome.

Not only does it relay (or “retweet” as the kids say) profane Twitter posts, the Cursebird home page features the top five bad words currently ranking on the social network along with percentage points, the cursing stats of random foul-fingered tweeters, and a search feature to check just how nasty your Twitter pals can be.

Beyond this and a couple of other independently developed Twitter apps that cater to my outer juvenile, I don’t much care for Twitter. Also, I’m really sick of hearing about it. Suddenly Twitter is the Snuggie of social networking. Everyone’s yammering about it endlessly and  busting out his or her own Twitter feed as awkwardly as wearing a blanket with sleeves.

Seriously. If you’re not Shaq, I don’t want to read it.

In 2007 I wrote about Twitter in a column titled “Twitter Nation: Nobody cares what you’re doing.” Since then, a plethora of events helped reveal the microblogging site as a powerful tool, though its full potential is yet to be harnessed.

But guess what? Nobody still doesn’t care what you’re doing. Of course, this hasn’t stopped the increasing number of you from telling us — in 140 characters or less.

It’s also a magnet for extreme narcissism —a fact lost on many attempting to harness The Twitter.

Like most new technology, Twitter provides an immediacy to share anything almost instantly; the constant presence of a tool to do just that seems to make it an imperative. It’s not. Baby fingers fit in light sockets. Should you put them there?

Note the much-lampooned behavior during President Obama’s first address to Congress. Instead of acting like the grown-ups we constituents reasonably expect our representatives to be, an obnoxious few couldn’t resist getting their Id on. Rather than paying attention to their guest — you know, the president of the United States — this embarrassing contingent instead chose to tweet their bon mots to the world. Because, you know — if you don’t Twitter it, it didn’t happen.

NBC News anchor Brian Williams recently told “The Daily Show” host Jon Stewart that he doesn’t Twitter, nor does he intend to. Good

Tweeting has its place. When the general shape and the texture of an experience are enough, but the ideas aren’t nuanced, contextual, or otherwise in need of synthesis, it’s great.

© 2009 Reprints


Who Knew? National Cat Day

Ok, so I missed it, but you also can’t blame me. Who actually knew about it?

Anyway, I found a website that offers ways to celebrate the occasion.

1. Wear clothes with cats on them!
2. Dress up as a cat!
3. Strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know very well about a vat!
4. Eat a kit kat bar!
5. Bring your cat to school!
6. Make cat noises!
7. Watch cat videos on youtube!
8. Listen to Cat Stevens!
9. Visit
10. Eat cat food!
11. Dress up your cat!
12. Watch cat movies!
13. Read books about cats!
14. Listen to/sing songs about cats!
15. Think about cats!
16. Chase mice!
17. Bring a picture of your cat to school to show your friends!
And you thought I was crazy!
Update: October 28th — I noticed on my email that I had the wrong date. The two below people told me it’s October 29th! I appreciate the correction — I had no idea it was wrong.

Fallon Faces the Camera, Conscious of the Web

He looked nervous, even flustered, at first, and some of the prepared comedy was surprisingly lame. That doesn’t matter. Jimmy Fallon’s first few days don’t really reveal how “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” will fare.

Monitoring the opening kinks and experiments of a new talk show is a spectator sport, and this entry comes with an added “American Idol” edge: NBC had the last word during the auditions, but Internet users are now expected to comment and cavil interactively and build — or diminish — Mr. Fallon’s television audience.

Mr. Fallon was cute and funny on “Saturday Night Live,” but he is not necessarily the ideal choice for the “Late Night” core audience of young males: his humor is mischievous, not anarchic. (If fans had a call-in vote, they might have elected Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert.)

Still, Mr. Fallon is engaging and has an antic, quick-witted charm. He seemed more confident by the show’s third night and, oddly enough, had better comic chemistry with Cameron Diaz on Wednesday than with Tina Fey, his former “Weekend Update” co-anchor on “SNL,” the night before. Most of his skits and routines, however, seemed written for the Web, not for broadcast.

It’s still too soon to pass judgment on Mr. Fallon’s talents as a talk show host, but it’s a perfectly good time to examine NBC’s latest test of synergy, the marriage of the Internet and a television show.

Almost all shows nowadays have Web sites with extraneous videos, fan blogs and viewer e-mail exchanges. But Mr. Fallon has gone further to co-opt the Internet than either of his two network rivals, Jimmy Kimmel on ABC and Craig Ferguson on CBS, or even cable upstarts like Chelsea Handler, the host of “Chelsea Lately” on E! In the months leading up to his debut on Monday, Mr. Fallon tried to pump up younger viewers’ interest with “Late Night” Webisodes. He has pages on Facebook, Myspace and Twitter.

Perhaps accordingly, many of the routines he worked into the show in its first nights might have been better suited to YouTube. And that youth-oriented material clashes with the highly conventional, even fusty jokes in his opening monologue (“Everybody’s cutting back, everybody: Madonna’s now down to one teenage boyfriend”), as well as with the choice of a veteran actor, Robert De Niro, to be his first guest.

Twitter is so overexposed that it has become a joke, but Mr. Fallon apparently isn’t in on it. He interviewed Ms. Diaz by posing questions submitted via Twitter. Those turned out to be as dull and anodyne as any taken from a live audience. (“If Cameron wasn’t acting, what would her dream job be?” Ms. Diaz didn’t have a ready answer, so Mr. Fallon supplied it: “Forest ranger.”)

Wednesday’s quite funny parody of romance novels, “bromance novels,” came with a link on the show’s Web site ( that allows users to watch a video of the shooting of the cover art.

Mr. Fallon consistently tried to incorporate a wackier Web spirit into his on-air performance, even picking random people in the studio audience and assigning them made-up Facebook identities. None were very funny.

Remarkably, given how many months he has had to prepare, many of his supposedly wacky, Web-style pranks were oddly plodding and unimaginative. On the first night three audience members were invited onstage to lick something in exchange for $10. The things were all inanimate objects: a lawn mower, a copier, a fishbowl. The slow-motion “super-sexy replay” was funny once, not three times.

Mr. Fallon does not have a sidekick, but he does have a cool band, the Roots, whose musicians are deadpan and steadfastly underwhelmed by his jokes, and over time that could serve as a comic foil to his eager-to-please persona.

There were other amusing moments, including a random, bizarre video of German soccer players dancing that was found on the Web and a mock charitable appeal for laid-off Wall Street workers, a Save the Bankers Foundation, that could have just as easily been a “Saturday Night Live” skit.

And Mr. Fallon got better, and more relaxed, after his debut, though he joked with Tina Fey about his “flop sweat” moment with Mr. De Niro. (When performers admit to being nervous, it’s a little like a woman on a date bemoaning how fat she is: nobody wants to hear it.)

The first days are tough because large audiences tune in to see what all the prepremiere fuss was about, boosting ratings and expectations, then quickly turn away if not instantly amused. And most hosts go through a trial-and-error period. Mr. Kimmel started out more loutishly and live; now he is more buttoned-down, and his show is taped, even though it is still called “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”

Mr. Ferguson began with a very conventional “Tonight Show” format, then slowly allowed more of his own offbeat storytelling and Monty Pythonesque eccentricities into his act.

NBC picked Mr. Fallon, and he can sometimes seem like an old person’s notion of a hip young comic, but that doesn’t mean that he isn’t funny or that he cannot hold his own on “Late Night.” Only time, not Twitter, will tell.

New York Times