So it appears that the Library of Congress is going to gank the Twitter archive & there ain’t a thing we can do about it. As some of you have been saying to me all day on Twitter, who cares? Why are you, Right Wing Loon, annoyed by this? Why did you create the apparently non-functioning hashtag #StickTHATInYourLibraryOfCongress?
Ok kids, here’s a run down of the process I went through regarding this announcement, in order from Right Wing Loon Anger to Compassion For Future Generations. It gets funnier as you go, so turn off your outrage that I don’t think everything ever is wonderful and just try to follow the process. Comments are welcome, especially if you bring something new that I haven’t considered.
Initial Reaction 1. Why the hell do we need a government archive of stuff that is already archived by a privately run company? Why indeed? What else does the government get to archive for important historical purposes? If they need, for some reason, every tweet about Justin Beiber and the #threewordsaftersex, why not just start recording the conversation you’re having in a streetside cafe? That’s public domain. Why not indeed?
“You’re a big paranoid right wing loon!” you cry. “Go have a tea party with Sarah Palin!” Why, that would be lovely. If she invited me, you betcha I’d go. But if you don’t understand why it’s dodgy that the government wants a copy of something already available for research purposes, it would be very hard to help you understand. Also, I don’t want to ever sound like my father, who grew up under Communism but is also nuts, so I won’t go into that. On some things, the man is right. This would be one of them. My grandfather was imprisoned for the things he wrote in the newspaper during the Communist take over of Czechoslovakia, and since some of you are so quick to compare Twitter to other published works, that ought to make you slightly itchy. Deny it or not, the socialism of today comes creeping in, softly, without fanfare, and in tiny bites so you shrug it off & don’t even notice it.
(Except for healthcare. Apparently the insurance companies needed a huge boost to their stock prices RIGHT NOW. So that was just pushed through. The subtlety is starting to dip. So many of you are willing to accept the changes, the government’s getting a little more brazen every month.)
But that’s not really about the Library of Congress and Twitter, is it? So…say that it’s totally legitimate, maybe even fun, for a government entity to have copies of something already publically available by a private company. Because it’s HISTORY, right? We’re all a part of history!
Reaction 2 (after discussion w/ thoughtful friend). Some of you think it’s neat. And I get that. If you, like me, are a fan of Ken Burns’ documentaries, you love the bits with the lilting bluegrass music and Sam Waterston’s pleasant voice saying “Dearest Mary, I fear the South may win this thing, and before the capital is stormed, I hope to plunge my cock into you one last time. I fear the pleasing white mound of your buttocks might never be viewed by these misty eyes again. All my heart and soul, Abe.” You love seeing snippets of people’s lives through their private letters. I assure you if those folk had those letters archived for posterity while they were alive, they would scream bloody blue murder.
Although I am sure there are 1% of tweets out there worthy of permanency in a government archive, the vast majority of Twitter, and I say this with love, are cat photos and sandwich reports. Also what has bacon. My roommate, who is a law student & is always thinking about such things, argued that the Library of Congress is making it so we can research various vital topics better. I responded, “Research WHAT? The mystery of who can haz cheeseburger?”
The overwhelming majority of us are just not fucking important, folks. We are morons, and we tweet moronic things. I know you have better things to do than read that my cat is not getting along with another cat. I tweet it because for some reason, the 714 people who follow me occasionally find me amusing. I don’t expect it to go beyond there, because it’s NOT IN ANY WAY IMPORTANT. History doesn’t care what you think of Hurley. History doesn’t care what candy has bacon in it. History doesn’t care that #punkbitchesbetrippin. History isn’t going to give a diarrhea-soaked dump in hell what Justin Beiber did or who he was. History really could give a flying fuck about Megapirhana, manbearpig, #tcot or whether or not you were a cheater.
We are meaningless specks in terabytes of worthlessness. It’s NOT HISTORY. It’s not research. The only value at all in the Library of Congress saving our muck for posterity will be a ton of links to actual blogs & articles that any idiot could get if they searched on Google. Why Twitter? Why not Facebook? Why not MySpace? Why not bulletin boards? Why not every blog ever?
What’s next, Library of Congress? What total idiot spouting nonsense will you need to archive for posterity next? Why do you need to archive total idiots talking about nothing all day? If I don’t read 95% of the tweets in my stream, why the hell do YOU want them?
Reaction 3 (after discussion w/ snarky friend). But…but…people in 2095 might learn something from me. Someone actually said this to me. In 140 characters, someone in 2095 might glean some nugget of brilliance from your bacon-fixated brain? Ok. Sure. And why do you believe this, exactly? I blame reality television.
Reality television and social networking kind of blossomed at the same time. For some reason, many of us believe that people actually give a crap what we think, that we’re important, and we deserve to be famous and, dare you say it, even influential. This cultural narcisism has evolved to the point where we actually think that people in 2095 will remember that we were a Real Housewife of Van Nuys or that we once met a guy at Subway who looked kinda like the guy from Human Target. SERIOUSLY?
Trending Topics is where love for humanity goes to die. Don’t ever look there. If you do, pray before, during, & after for the strength of Jesus to forgive your fellow man for existing. Then ask yourself “Does this belong in the Library of Congress?” Give an honest answer. Yes, freedom of speech. But we say lots of stupid crap to each other daily that is not archive-worthy. Why? Because we’re not as awesome as we think we are. We’re just people, living our lives. That’s ok. It’s ok to be a normal person. None of us has to be an influence on society, and many people who already are shouldn’t be. Hello, Kardashians.
Reaction 4. Social networking. We microblog to meet other microbloggers. Will the Library of Congress start showing up to Singles Wine Tasting Night at Whole Foods and record those influential and life affirming exchanges for posterity? Will the Ken Burns of 2095 have an audio snippet that goes something like “Dude, this pinot is fruitier than the rest. So what do you do? Oh yeah? I’m in synergy. What do you do to relax? Yeah, bikram is my favourite, too.” Will the Ken Burns of 2095 have some sincere and velvet voiced actor read “Avatar was amazing. You should see it in 3D at least twice, holy crap”?
Reaction 5. People from all over the world use Twitter. What are their rights in regards to the American Library of Congress? Does anybody know? If so, please comment. My overseas friends are most eager to know.
My roommate suggested something brilliant. We should have the option PER TWEET to make a post private to your followers or public. That way, if you have something loaded with historical significance to share, you can make it public. If you’re just tweeting lines from Mighty Boosh, well, that’s up to you. I think this is a brilliant option, and it will probably make the Library of Congress happier, as well as future historians. What say you, Twitter?
Apparently the government is going to do whatever it likes, but in the meantime, do your part to spare the future our trite bullshit. Some poor 19 year old digging around for reactions to the first black president in history will bless you in his prayers at night. Don’t hate on that kid; Twitter. Give us the public/private per tweet option.