Thursday, October 29, 2009

COLUMN: Things to do on Twitter when you're dead

If you’ve had even a fleeting experience with the Internet, you’ve probably thought to yourself, “Is there anything Twitter can’t do?” You’ve also probably wondered why there are so many videos of cats, but also the Twitter thing.

For the uninformed, Twitter is a service that allows people to post messages in 140-character “tweets.” It’s revolutionized the way people use the Web, in that it’s forced millions of users to come up with shorter ways to call everyone else on the Internet a moron.

But the latest Twitter development should really push the service to the next level. Just in time for Halloween, a UK psychic is mounting the first-ever Twitter séance, which she’s referring to as a “Tweance.” Most Twitter activities start with “Tw,” which is a practice referred to, in marketing circles, as idiotic. I’m sorry, “twidiotic.”

The psychic, Jaynce Wallace, is seeking suggestions at for famous dead people to contact on Oct. 30, which of course makes some pretty large assumptions:

1) That dead people know how to use Twitter. I know enough living people who can’t figure it out that it’s safe to assume Mahatma Gandhi’s not sitting around in his little dhoti, typing out 140-character messages on his afterlife-issued BlackBerry. (“Violence still sux!” etc.)

2) Even if dead people DO know how to use Twitter, is that really how they’d want to communicate with us over the mysterious expanse that divides us from the netherworld — the same way that Paula Abdul told us she wasn’t coming back to “American Idol”? It seems unlikely, especially given how satisfied the deceased seem to be communicating through decks of cards and Whoopi Goldberg.

That said, given the suggestions that have come through so far, it appears that most Twitter users aren’t interested in asking, say, Albert Einstein about the discrepancies between atomic and subatomic physics. People would much rather talk to Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain — “How are you NOW?” one user asks him, apparently suggesting that he just get over his own grisly suicide already.

People also would like to hear from recently deceased actor Patrick Swayze, presumably to find out if being a ghost is anything like being in “Ghost,” or is it, you know, different? If there were any justice, Swayze would decide that this was the time not to be nice and beat all the Twitterers with ectoplasmic beer bottles.

Granted, there are some people interested in talking to more high-profile historical figures. For instance, one suggests, “You should ask Hitler if he feels sorry for everything he did.” I’m not sure what he’d answer, but it seems to me that if after everything that happened he still thinks he was on the right track, there’s no getting through to that guy.

All I know is, I think this whole Tweance concept could wind up being the start of a disturbing trend. One day you’re using Twitter to communicate with spirits, the next day you’re using it to put spells on people and steal their immortal souls. It flies in the face of what Twitter was invented for: real-time minute-to-minute progress of the Balloon Boy. Instead I prefer to subscribe to the opinion of nikiandrea16, who declared in a succinct but effective tweet, “NOOOOO TWEANCE!!! IT’S A TERRIBLE IDEA!!!”

Then she posted a video of her cat.

This column appeared originally in North Shore Sunday. Peter Chianca is a managing editor for GateHouse Media New England. Follow him on Twitter at To receive At Large by e-mail, write to, with the subject line “SUBSCRIBE."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ugh, Twitter is annoying as heck!
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