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Twitter Is Making You Stupid And Here's Why

A simple Restriction is Making Twitter a Brain-Drain

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Donald Trump's Twitter Account / Via Twitter: @realDonaldTrump

Everyone had the annoying friend as a kid who would say something ridiculous, but could never recall a source for their argument. Now, everyone has that one friend who makes arguments on social media, but whose facts are about as skewed, fabricated, or believable as Mister Rodger's Land of Make-Belief. For all of those who don't, luckily, we have Donald Trump, and people like Trump, have Twitter. For the last year, The Donald has lit Twitter ablaze in controversial tweets on a frequent basis. He has not shied away from commenting on everything from violence, to the bodies of women (despite only being a "2" by his standards, himself) and the personalities and issues surrounding his political opponents. He has been quoted on Twitter, the main outlet for his tirades, as saying that global warming is an expensive hoax set up by the Chinese to damage American industry, calling his political opponents names, such as Little Marco, for Marco Rubio, Lying Ted, for Ted Cruz, or Crooked Hillary, for Hillary Clinton. He has also used the platform, in recent months, to slander the Clinton family, openly discussing Bill Clinton's extra-marital affairs which came to light in the mid 1990's, and has used them as fuel for his personal attacks against Hillary and her presidential campaign. He had also used the platform, during the U.S. Primaries attack not just Ted Cruz, but his father and wife, threatening to "spill the beans" on her. Luckily for Trump, Twitter allows him to utter short, exciting statements, which are no more than poorly based sound bytes, like Shamwow! spokesman Vince trying to sell a malfunctioning Slap-Chop, acting as fodder for the media. Unlike Trump, Clinton has had less of a social media presence, especially on Twitter, which recently has proven to be, along with other social media platforms, all about easy to understand, quick, simple pieces of information, according to Kerri Stephens and Ashley Barrett (2016, p. 399).

Donald Trump's Twitter Account / Via Twitter: @realDonaldTrump

If the relationship between Donald Trump and Twitter is anything, it's not a long, loving marriage, it's more of an embarrassing fling, that in the case of Donald, the woman would rather forget ever happened. However, if it has proven anything, it is that Twitter is optimal for nothing more than quick soundbytes and controversial or humorous comments, much the same as a child making loud obnoxious noises to gain the attention of adults. This plays directly into Donald Trump's style and ability to gain attention to himself and his campaign. Forbes' Ty Kiisel (2012) said that news station rely more now than ever before on news stories that are quick, simple, and easy to understand in order to fill their news reels. The Donald has proven this, especially since the start of his campaign, in which his quick, controversial tweets have created a number of filler news stories, many of which have led to deeper media debate. This has shown that the attraction that people have to Twitter is due to it's quick, easy to handle user interface. It has also provided Trump with free publicity, because in the worst cases, any publicity is good publicity. However, in Kiissel's 2012 article, he also mentions that Twitter users must make their point in 140 characters or less. In their article, Stephens and Barrett also mentioned that Twitter's 140 character limit leads to Twitter users omitting critical information from their tweets.

Donald Trump's Twitter Account / Via Twitter: @realDonaldTrump

This can be seen as a sign that Twitter has damaged users ability to properly debate or their desire to go into depth on a topic. From these observations, it can be seen that Twitter had altered the attention span of its users, opting for quick, easy statements that are 140 characters or less, instead of in-depth debate or discussion. According to Christina Boyle of the New York Daily News (2009), in an interview with The Daily Mail from the United Kingdom, Baroness Susan Greenfield said that she worried that social media sites, like Twitter and Facebook, with their fast paced responses and buzzing notifications is creating a mindset that lives only for the moment and needs, like a small child, constant gratification and validation. A 2016 study done at the University of Kentucky by Brandi Frisby, Renee Kaufmann, and Anna-Carrie Beck found that Twitter is not an optimal social tool for the completion of group projects in school, because the 140 character limit in tweets makes sharing large amounts of information too hard, and that while it may be an interesting tool in the classroom, there are too many barriers, including actually completing the task. This further shows that Twitter is a destructive force against the mind's ability to focus on a task, or to think in-depth. Instead, it creates nothing but a need for self-gratification.

References

Boyle, C. (2009, February 25). Are Facebook, MySpace and Twitter eroding attention spans? Retrieved October 14, 2016, from http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/facebook-myspace-twitter-eroding-attention-spans-researcher-yes-article-1.370863

Frisby, B. N., Kaufmann, R., & Beck, A. (2016). Mediated group development and dynamics: an examination of video chatting, Twitter, and Facebook in group assignments. Communication Teacher, 30(4), 215-227. doi:10.1080/17404622.2016.1219038

Kiisel, T. (2012, January 25). Is Social Media Shortening Our Attention Span? Retrieved October 15, 2016, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/tykiisel/2012/01/25/is-social-media-shortening-our-attention-span/#3ac478c46945

Stephens, K. K., & Barrett, A. K. (2016). Communicating Briefly: Technically. International Journal Of Business Communication, 53(4), 398-418. doi:10.1177/2329488414525463

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