Monday, July 6, 2009

Ethical Arguments Against the Use of Twitter

This is clever. Bravo, James Anderson.


David Strunk said...

Hey Sarah,
I actually didn't find this post to be clever. He maintains several faulty premises, to begin with. But I assume he's tongue-in-cheek when he says he held similar arguments to blogging, which is ironically the venue he chose for demonstrating these thoughts.

Twitter is a medium, just like television, just like the internet, and blogging, more particularly. And even Groothuis will tell you that television is inherently evil/wrong, but it isn't inherently neutral, either. I agree w/ the premise that not much meaningful can be shared in 140 characters or less. And I also agree that always discussing what one is doing can become narcissistic, but it isn't inherently narcisstic. To level this claim is to demonstrate unfamiliarity w/ the medium itself. Often times Twitter acts merely as a quick and efficient way of information dissemination- links, reactions, and other occurrences in real time (see the Iran riots for this phenomenon). Indeed, it's a very democratic medium. Twitter is a base medium, no doubt, but it isn't evil or wrong to use it.

I actually had a different reaction than most reactionaries against it. I use it, sure. But to me, it evidences not narcissism, per se. It evidences the universal desire to be known. To use Twitter is really just a twisted or half-hearted human desire. Prayer is the best medium, but Twitter reveals this human desire to be known. The same is true of a facebook profile. People are longing for connection, even if in misguided ways. This doesn't make a medium wrong, it just means that the medium should be used wisely.

I'd also argue that anyone who holds similar views to this argument on Twitter should cease use on Facebook, MySpace, personal blogs, etc. The media listed are too similar in focus, and not demonstrably different for the person who levels these claims to be internally consistent. One could substitute any of the prior terms and still have a valid argument. So the question becomes not whether or not to use them (but it's perfectly okay if someone decides not to use these media), but how to use it wisely. However, one still has an effective argument from a Christian standpoint if they find Twitter to be unwise. But James did not make such an argument.

Check this out....

Sarah Geis said...

Hello my Twittering friend,

Well, you raised some very unintended but nevertheless good points. The reason I did not expect such a response is because I took Dr. Anderson's post to be entirely tongue-in-cheek and in no way a presentation of a series of academic argument. I assumed this from the beginning primarily because of the way in which he used differing, contradictory, and even ridiculous ethical theories to "prove" his primary sentiment. Rather than coming away with arguments to seriously consider, I came away with a smile and residual chuckling. Weak philosophy humor that does not belong on this rarely used blog, I suppose.

But since you presented some well reasoned thoughts, I will gladly respond!

First of all, I am not necessarily against Twittering in and of itself. I am merely a Twitter skeptic, and I currently claim to have an inadequate understanding of it. I agree that it is not inherently evil or wrong, I do not think it to be inherently narcissistic, nor do I deny that it can be quite helpful in certain instances.

However, my primary cause for withholding judgement and remaining a skeptic until I become more familiar with the medium is because this is what I attempt to do with all new technologies and mediums. That is, I try to spend as much time as possible weighing the benefits to humanity against the costs to humanity, and from there develop a working philosophy on it.

As an example, this is why I have not blogged often, having become more skeptical of its helpfulness in the past year.

In sum, I posted this link because I thought it was funny. I thought it was funny because I am not sold on Twitter, and because I am familiar with all of these styles, schools, and theories of ethical consideration.

Hope that clears things up as to where I stand on the Twitter matter (which is nowhere solid at the moment).

David Strunk said...

Hey Sarah,
Indeed the article was humorous. The beginning of the article had a serious tenor that became funny as the writer took to overtly ridiculous forms of argument. But the beginning of his thought looked to be a serious attempt at argumentation, which is why I took issue with it.

But you are right. Caution, waiting, patience, and critical thinking are vastly underused in today's info free-for-all. Better to be cautious than an unthinking ignoramous following the masses around.

Thanks for clarifying.

By the way, I ended the conversation w/ my online friend that I spoke w/ you about on Sunday. I'm going to call him soon. But I blogged on the experience over at

Tell me what you think.