Twitter is crack for the ego. It’s little wonder that Twitter is popular with young Hollywood and musicians. It feeds the same basic need for external approval and positive reinforcement. It’s also little wonder that’s it’s so popular in general these days. The goal is no longer to be the best in one’s desired field or to acquire great wealth. The new pinnacle of American society is fame. This desire to be the center of attention can be traced back to TV and our broader celebrity driven culture. The 2008 election marked its successful infiltration into the highest level of politics. No other candidate in history better represents the power of celebrity.
Some may argue that Kennedy and Reagen were celebrities. In the case of Kennedy this may be partially true, but his rise was also due to backroom politics. The rise of Reagan can be seen as a gradual process that can be traced to his days in Hollywood. But his success as an advocate for Barry Goldwater and as the Governor of California, undermine the argument that his candidacy was driven by celebrity rather than substance. Reagan talked about the tangible threat of Russia and the role of America in the history of the world. The message of Obama was the ubiquitous hope and change. However this isn’t about politics. This is about Twitter, a social networking service that provides the nearly instantaneous positive reinforcement of actual socialization without the hassle of actually having to deal with people in person. It grants individuals the freedom to speak their unfiltered minds and gives them the opportunity for nearly instantaneous approval or derision.
The Re-Tweet is a perfect example. Nothing feeds the ego like when one of your brief statements is copied and circulated among the Twittersphere. It feeds the ego and gives that instantaneous feedback that so many musicians crave. It’s little wonder that they enjoy Twitter and the opportunity it gives them for a methadone like solution to their performance addiction. Twitter is a cheap substitute for the roar of the crowd, but it beats sitting alone in your hotel room with the cold emptiness that follows such a high.
With only an investment of time, the average Joe can get a taste of the power of external positive reinforcement. Another follower, another Re-Tweet, and another #FollowFriday recommendation. It’s a boon to even the most self-confident of individuals. So what will be the impact of Twitter on the broader population? We continue to evolve into a people that are impatient and needy.
I don’t say all of this to judge others. I’m no Luddite and I too have fallen victim to the appeal of Twitter. It’s a booster shot for the ego, but, like any stimulant, it carries the risk of addiction. What may be methadone for a rock star, could become crack for you.