I’ve come to believe that, of all the hellish things that have been spawned in the fever swamp that is the Internet, Twitter may turn out to be the most successful of them all—not in spite of its stupidity, but because of it.
Twitter has become a playground for imbeciles, skeevy marketers, D-list celebrity half-wits, and pathetic attention seekers: Shaquille O’Neal, Kim Kardashian, Ryan Seacrest. Sure, some serious people, like George Stephanopoulos and Al Gore, use Twitter. And a lot of publishing companies and bloggers (myself included) use Twitter to send links to articles we’ve published. But most of what streams across Twitter is junk. One recent study concluded that 40 percent of the messages are “pointless babble.”
Then again, look at TV: fat people dancing, talentless people singing, Glenn Beck slinging lunatic conspiracy theories. Stupid stuff sells. The genius of Twitter is that it manages to be even stupider than TV. It’s so stupid that it’s brilliant. No person with an IQ above 100 could possibly care what Ashton Kutcher or Ashlee Simpson has to say about anything. But Kutcher has 3.5 million Twitter followers, and Simpson has 1.5 million. Who are these millions of people? If you’re an investor in Twitter, you probably think, who cares? Kutcher and Simpson might be buffoons, but they’ve built bigger audiences than a lot of TV shows.