Scene Stealers

Rowland: Celebrities all atwitter over tweeting

March 5, 2009 

If you boil life down to 140 characters, what do you get?

Well, in the case of Twitter, you get the next big (or, more accurately, little) thing to hit the Internet.

Less work than Facebook. More hip than MySpace. And, seriously, if you still use e-mail as your primary mode of emoting to the universe, then, dude, you might as well switch back over to the Pony Express.

The microblogging platform allows users to post "tweets" about anything their hearts desire, up to 140 characters, for the entire world to read. And in the past few months, Twitter has become the new new media darling.

Everyone who is anyone tweets these days. Actors, musicians, politicians, athletes, news media types -- they are all flocking to the Web service to overshare with an eager public.

Shaquille O'Neal? A slam tweet.

Ashton Kutcher? It's tweet in the family, with wife Demi Moore and stepdaughter Rumer Willis aboard, too.

Britney Spears? Oops, I tweeted again.

Lance Armstrong? Tweet strong.

Gov. Schwarzenegger? He'll be tweet.

David Gregory? Meet the tweet.

So, why the sudden popularity of a program that essentially is a glorified text message you share with the entire Internet?

Simplicity, perhaps. Immediacy, sure. The megalomaniacal drive to have people hang on your every word, no matter how mundane or poorly spelled? Heck to the yes.

Just as the overshare has become everyone's favorite entertainment activity, the need to feel that your thoughts, feelings, what you had for dinner matters is one of the things that drives Twitter's popularity.

Admittedly, some of it is fascinating. Insider tweets from the news media and celebrities offer an intimate and sometimes unexpected look into the minds of the rich, famous and influential.

Other times, they are a reminder that the trivial activities of an everyday life are pretty boring whether you're Jane Doe or Shaq.

It remains to be seen whether Twitter has a shelf life longer than 15 minutes of online fame. Things are hot, then they're not. Hello, Friendster, and Napster.

Still, what makes Twitter the flavor of the Web right now is both its ease of use and instant gratification.

If you have a cell phone, you can tweet from anywhere. If you're at a computer, there are dozens of applications competing to make your Twitter experience better, faster, sleeker. (I'm partial to Tweetdeck when I'm at my laptop and Twitterific on my iPhone, in case you were wondering.)

While sites like Facebook demand you build an entire online profile, which takes care, maintenance and poking, Twitter has a a singular purpose and a ridiculously easy setup.

Create a username, remember your password and 30 seconds later you can tell the anyone and everyone how you feel right that very second. Gosh, we're simple creatures.

And once you do set up your account, feel free to follow me at Oh, please, you knew that was coming.

Yeah, I'm such a twit.

Elsewhere around the Scene:

Stanislaus County has gotten into the pictures.

The county recently produced a new half-hour documentary on the rising problem of elder abuse throughout America. A free première screening of the projects, "Secrets in America: The Crisis of Elder Abuse," will screen at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Gallo Center of the Arts.

Locally produced over the past year and a half, the film was funded by the Stanislaus Community Foundation and Kaiser Permanente.

It includes interviews with area residents and national experts in an effort to document the scope of the problem of elder abuse nationally.

For more information, visit

And finally, come chow down for a good cause at the Howard Training Center's 15th annual Crab Feed today and Saturday.

The event raises funds for the nonprofit organization's efforts to provide support and vocational training to adults with developmental disabilities. The event includes a crab dinner and entertainment by the Silver Moon Band.

The feed starts at 6 p.m. both days at Witmer Hall, 1424 Stonum Road, Modesto. Tickets are $45 (must be purchased in advance). Call 593-5618.

Bee entertainment writer Marijke Rowland can be reached at 578-2284 or Read her blog SceneIt at

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