Twitter is Sacred

09/24/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Lee Schneider Communications director at Red Cup Agency. Minimalist. Writing on the intersection of culture and technology

Twitter, sacred? Well, maybe. A recent blog by Stephen Dinan started the ball rolling for me by asking "When something is wildly successful, as Twitter now is, I often ask myself about its higher purpose. In other words, what might be the deeper meaning of Twitter?"

Could a string of 140 characters have a higher meaning?

In his blog, Dinan makes the case that Twitter is propagating new ideas at light speed, helping to create a new form of intimacy and allowing us to connect with our individuality while tracking global concerns.

Let's break that down. There's no doubt that ideas propelled at the speed of light are spreading faster than ever before. The concept of intimacy and "friendship" is also changing fast. By looking at my Blackberry I can learn what my friends thought of exploding stereotypes in Julie and Julia or exploding bodies in District 9. One friend is getting metal rods in his foot after a 80 mph racing kart crash. Ok, too much information. Point is, this kind of intimacy doesn't involve face to face, more like face to screen. You can have involved relationships with people without ever meeting them.

Decline of civilization, ya think? Could be. But I think it's more about people craving connection and being inventive about finding it where they can. I can't find the town square of Los Angeles on my GPS; neither can anybody else. garmin-nuvi-750-gps-system1-2So we have to invent a town square. Mine turns out to be on a screen. Is that a strange place to find "what it's all about?"

"I am glad I wasn't there. I hate crowds. In a field? No in-door plumbing? My sister will tell you that camping, to me, has always meant a Holiday Inn. Music? I'm tone deaf."
-Mathew Tombers

Tombers wrote that in a blog about Woodstock, the cultural touchstone that happened forty years ago this month. Like Tombers, I too would have stayed away, but only because I can't deal with using a porta-potty while on acid. The iconic moment of Woodstock has come around again in a surprising way - this time instead of mud and music we have pixels and social progress.

As people seek connection on the Internet they are also trying to do work that matters. The two go together because the exchange of ideas is accelerating while we remain connected with hundreds if not thousands of people. Businesses are going green. People are looking at micro-financing to help the world's poor. The shows I'm pitching in my company are about healing or consciousness or science and spirit. Ideas travel fast when they're wired and there's the sense that we're all thinking the same thing: How can we do good?

As Lynne Twist writes in The Soul of Money:

"The communications explosion has awakened our natural relatedness to one another and the awareness of the fact that we're interconnected. It has also facilitated a truly global conversation on important issues that affect us all."

A global conversation on Twitter? That's technology helping us put a lot of consciousness into 140 characters.