Last Saturday was as typical as any other one this year. I was slightly hung over, worn from a night’s worth of dancing, drunken and impromptu wrestling and other shenanigans, and I found myself lying on my living room carpet, mind absorbed in an intense game of Mario Kart. I had been playing with my roommates for over an hour when suddenly a thought entered my head as quickly as the green shell had just blasted Toad off his turnpike: If I were to spend half as much time as I do playing this game doing something productive, I could really accomplish something special in my life. I could make a difference.
I shared this idea with my roommate, to which he replied, “Yeah, but then you wouldn’t be playing Mario Kart.” It was then that I realized that I was going up against a far bigger and more daunting “if” than I had originally imagined. Despite the genuine nature of my idealized epiphany, I knew I would never stop playing Mario Kart, because frankly, I love doing it. I savor every moment spent playing that perfect game with the friends I love.
As long you spend time with someone you love, I don’t care what the hell you do with your time. You could try to calculate pi to the four millionth digit, if that brings you closer to someone you care for. What I don’t understand is people who waste time doing things that are self-benefiting and narcissistic in nature. And sadly, as my generation grows older, we are becoming increasingly self-absorbed and wasteful. I don’t believe that I would even care if it were not for the fact that so many of those people have to project their narcissism onto the rest of us, as if we should be interested and concerned.
Take Twitter for example. For those who don’t know about Twitter, it’s basically a service that allows for the mass posting of small messages online, which can be sent to your cell phone. If you’re confused, think Facebook status updates; it’s the same thing, except companies and other services also use it, like CNN tweeting its news updates to signed up users (or “followers,” as they’re called). We already live in a world where information is blasted at us from all angles. The last thing we need is an hour-to-hour update on each other’s lives. But apparently, a whole lot of people do want to know what their friends are doing all the time, because Twitter membership has exploded over the past year. Numerous Web sites and celebrities have Twitter accounts set up for those who want to receive updates. Why take the time out of your day to turn on a TV or go to CNN.com when you can just have CNN tweet your cell phone? Why enjoy your own life when you can enjoy every moment of Ashton Kutcher’s, who for some reason or another has over one million followers? I can only imagine how riveting his messages are: “So today I ran into Bruce Willis at Starbucks. It was kinda awk,” or “Remember when I Punk’d Seth Green? I got him so good!”
Once I was walking toward class in the pouring rain when a girl in white Juicy sweatpants hurried by, complaining to her friend that the downpour had made her sweats see through. “Oh my god! This is so embarrassing. You can totally see my thong! I’m so twittering this.” Now I don’t know what CNN sends to its followers, but if it’s half as enthralling as this girl’s messages, than maybe, just maybe, I can see where this Twitter thing is going. Then again, I thought the game Snake on those early Nokia phones was the pinnacle of cell phone technology…
In terms of actually sending out important information, maybe Twitter can be an incredibly useful tool. Are you running to the beach at 5 p.m. and want someone to join you, or do you need a ride to Disneyland? Tweet it and you’ll be surprised who answers. In this sense, Twitter is reliable and extremely convenient. The problem is, the majority of its users are not sending or receiving meaningful information. I might ridicule my roommates in a game of Mario Kart, but I don’t see myself getting the urge to let all my other friends know via Twitter. The same cannot be said of all those who – living their lives prior to the Twitter revolution – always had to send mass text messages on every holiday wishing me a “Merry X-Mas,” or the always popular “cinco de drinko!!” These people proved way before the advent of Twittering that there are indeed those out there who just cannot resist sending mass messages to everyone in their phonebook, regardless of whether half the people receiving the message care about you or what you have to say. Yes, I said it, not everyone cares about what you have to say. I learned this the hard way when I called my best friend in Berkeley just to tell him I won in Mario Kart and he hung up on me.