I’m trying to adapt to social media, but spare me the inane tweets

A couple of interesting pieces in the WSJ this week provide some useful perspective to social media mania.

In The New-Media Crisis of 1949, Terry Teachout, takes a look at the havoc new media is wrecking on today's traditional media — including television programming, the music industry, as well of course as newspapers. And he compares that with the mortal blow television struck on radio. Lest we forget: "Video killed the radio star." The lesson from Teachout (is that really his name?) is that those who don't adapt to the new media will be made irrelevant. But those whose skills can be adapted to the new media will continue to shine, some brighter than before.

Resisting change is futile, he says.

Americans of all ages embraced TV unhesitatingly. They felt no loyalty to network radio, the medium that had entertained and informed them for a quarter-century. When something came along that they deemed superior, they switched off their radios without a second thought. That's the biggest lesson taught by the new-media crisis of 1949. Nostalgia, like guilt, is a rope that wears thin.

The second piece comes from Elizabeth Bernstein's On Relationships column "How Facebook Ruins Friendships." She takes a shot at inane Tweets and Facebook postings:

I don't give a hoot that you are "having a busy Monday," your child "took 30 minutes to brush his teeth," your dog "just ate an ant trap" or you want to "save the piglets." And I really, really don't care which Addams Family member you most resemble. (I could have told you the answer before you took the quiz on Facebook.)

Too much annoying detail can poison your opinion of friends and, especially, casual acquaintances. And she opines that quick responses can be dangerous to relationships at times, when a cooler, more thoughtful response might be better.

I wrote earlier this summer that Twitter was "growing up" providing useful insight and access to information from on-the-spot citizen reporting. But there is still plenty of room for restraint. Wouldn't it be great if we were spared all the stupid, boring Tweets from even the trusted-to-be-newsworthy people we follow?

I continue to promise to Tweet only when I have something to say. Followers will be spared details of my breakfast this morning (cold cereal and a banana for those hanging breathlessly — NOT! —  on worthless detail).

- Jon Harmon

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