Against All Tweets

Semi-Serious Warm-Up Argument

(1) Twittering requires communication in 140 characters or less.

(2) Almost nothing of substance can be adequately communicated in 140 characters or less.

(3) Therefore, almost nothing of substance can be adequately communicated by Twittering.

(4) A method of communication is intrinsically flawed if almost nothing of substance can be adequately communicated by it.

(5) Therefore, Twittering is an intrinsically flawed method of communication.

(6) One ought not to act in such a way as to participate in, promote, or legitimize an intrinsically flawed method of communication.

(7) Therefore, one ought not to Twitter.

Virtue Ethics Argument

(1) One ought always to act in good faith.

(2) Therefore, if one Twitters, one ought always to Twitter in good faith.

(3) One can Twitter in good faith only if one believes one’s life to be so important as to merit the attention of others.

(4) It is narcissistic to believe one’s life to be so important as to merit the attention of others.

(5) Therefore, one can Twitter in good faith only if one is narcissistic.

(6) Narcissism is not a virtue.

(7) Therefore, one can Twitter only if one is unvirtuous.

(8) Therefore, one ought not to Twitter.

Aristotelian Argument

(1) One ought to aim for the Golden Mean between two extremes.

(2) Twittering all the time is one extreme.

(3) Not using the Internet at all is another extreme.

(4) Using the Internet without Twittering is the Golden Mean between those two extremes.

(5) Therefore, one ought to use the Internet without Twittering.

Augustinian Argument

(1) Evil is essentially the lack of goodness.

(2) It is good to be able to use more than 140 characters to communicate.

(3) Twitter prevents one from using more than 140 characters to communicate.

(4) Therefore, Twitter lacks goodness.

(5) Therefore, Twitter is evil.

Leibnizian Argument

(1) This is the best of all possible worlds.

(2) All else being equal, a world in which Twittering is morally impermissible is better than a world in which Twittering is morally permissible, for numerous reasons that are too obvious to spell out here.

(3) Therefore, this is a world in which Twittering is morally impermissible.

(4) Therefore, Twittering is wrong.

Plantingan Modal Argument

(1) It is at least possible that all moral truths are necessary truths.

(2) It is at least possible that Twittering is wrong.

(3) Therefore, it is possible that, necessarily, Twittering is wrong.

(4) According to modal system S5, what is possibly necessary is necessary.

(5) Therefore, necessarily, Twittering is wrong.

(6) Therefore, Twittering is wrong.

Kantian Argument

(1) Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.

(2) I can will that it should become a universal law that no one Twitters; indeed, I can do so with ease and without the slightest whiff of self-contradiction.

(3) Therefore, no one should Twitter.

Utilitarian Argument

(1) It is wrong to act in such a way as to reduce the overall net happiness of the human race.

(2) Twittering not only keeps people from countless other activities that might actually increase the overall net happiness of the human race, it also makes people more aware than they otherwise would be of just how banal other people’s lives are.

(3) Therefore, Twittering reduces the overall net happiness of the human race.

(4) Therefore, Twittering is wrong.

Natural Law Argument

(1) It is wrong to do what is not natural.

(2) There is nothing remotely natural about broadcasting the minutiae of your life to all and sundry whenever it takes your fancy.

(3) Therefore, Twittering is wrong.

Emotivist Argument

(1) I strongly dislike the idea of Twittering and I strongly dislike hearing about Twittering.

(2) Therefore, you should stop Twittering and stop talking about Twittering.

Alternative Emotivist Argument

(1) Boo to Twittering!

(2) Therefore, Twittering is wrong.

Prescriptivist Argument

(1) Don’t Twitter!

(2) Therefore, Twittering is wrong.

Intuitionist Argument

(1) I just know that Twittering is wrong.

(2) Therefore, Twittering is wrong.

Subjectivist Argument

(1) Twittering is wrong for me.

(2) Therefore, Twittering is wrong.

Cultural Relativist Argument

(1) I believe Twittering is wrong and the people I hang out with agree with me.

(2) Therefore, Twittering is wrong.

Rortian Argument

(1) Truth is whatever your peers will let you get away with saying.

(2) My peers will let me get away with saying that Twittering is wrong.

(3) Therefore, Twittering is wrong.

Divine Command Theorist Argument

(1) “Thou shalt not Twitter.”

(2) Therefore, Twittering is wrong.

Pop Christianity Argument

(1) Would Jesus Twitter? Probably not.

(2) Therefore, Twittering is wrong.

Inductive Argument

(1) As demonstrated above, according to (nearly) all known moral theories, Twittering is wrong.

(2) Therefore, Twittering is (probably) wrong.

Postscript

I have every confidence that these arguments are no less cogent than those I raised against blogging ten years ago.

Post-Postscript

I’m now receiving WordPress pingback notifications informing me that this post has been linked to in a bunch of random Twitter feeds.  I guess I should admit de-tweet.

26 Responses to Against All Tweets

  1. The faulty premises, in order of argument: (2), (4), (4), (4) & (5), (2), (3), (1), (2), (1), (2), (2), (2), (2), (1), (1), (1), (1).

    Follow me on Twitter!

  2. A bunch of these arguments are less than 140 characters. idiot.

  3. minervaluciela

    LOL!!!!

  4. Clarkian Argument:

    (1) Twittering is not found in the Bible.
    (2) Therefore, Twitter must be exposed for the God-denying, irrational, misologistic heresy that it is.

    Other Clarkian Argument:

    (1) Twitter is offered freely and sincerely to all people.
    (2) Therefore, Twitter is not the Gospel.
    (3) Therefore, Twitter is heresy.
    (4) Thefefore, Twittering must be wrong.

  5. Phillip Marshall

    Holy cow, James–this was brilliant. It’s been a *long* time since I laughed this hard. I think the argument I liked the best was the Alternative Emotivist Argmt. Boo to Twitter!

    Anti-Twits of the World–Unite!

  6. Pingback: Some Humor from James Anderson on “Tweeting” « Biblical Languages

  7. Cool post!

    (1) A premise against Twitter of 140 characters or less can be tweeted

    (2) Tweeting a premise against Twitter gives utility and usefulness to Twitter

    (3) Therefore, any premise against Twitter of 140 characters or less is self-defeating.

    (Yeah, I know…)

    I’m tweeting this anyways! :)

  8. I have to confess I’m not clear on the distinction between “Twittering” and “Tweeting”. I understand that a tweet is an individual up-to-140-characters message sent via Twitter. So do I take it that “Twittering” is the general activity of using Twitter (in which case my usage above is correct) while “Tweeting” is the individual action of sending a tweet?

    Should I really care anyway? :)

  9. Thanks for this! I found it exceedingly irritating but in a most entertaining way.

  10. Phillip Marshall

    James,

    Here’s a Wittgensteinian argument:

    1. A word’s use determines its meaning.
    2. I do not use Twitter.
    3. Therefore, Twitter is meaningless.

    Oh my. What hath James wrought? :)

  11. I hate to rain on this logical parade, but it’s high time a biblical perspective was brought to bear on this rationalistic rant.

    Twittering is, of course, biblical. It is a form of prayer in fact. Consider Isaiah 38:14 (New Jerusalem Bible [127 characters]; cf. New American Standard [143 characters]) —

    “I twitter like a swallow,
    I moan like a dove,
    my eyes have grown dim from looking up.
    Lord, I am overwhelmed, come to my help.”

    Here we are privileged to overhear Hezekiah’s prayer, in which “twittering” is a metaphor for his lament.

    Whether this overcomes the so-called “Clarkian Argument” put forward by theoparadox (above) is perhaps moot. At least it provides a framework for a focussed and responsible form of twittering, not unlike some of Nehemiah’s prayers (which do not, admittedly, echo the analogy of twittering themselves).

    (Hmmm… Is it possible there’s a serious side to this comment after all?!)

    David Reimer

    • David,

      Ha ha, I was waiting for someone to put their Bible software to good use.

      Good as it sounds, your argument only proves the following:

      A. The “New Jerusalem” translation is a corrupted text, based on faulty manuscripts that were miscopied by confused Alexandrian scribes.
      B. This section of Deutero-Isaiah must be a later revision inserted into the original text by a bunch of twits.

      Of course, we are all now wondering, how many characters are in the Hebrew text of this verse? And, should we count the vowels or not? Also, does Twitter support the use of Hebrew characters? If so, you may have an argument.

      LOL,
      Derek

      • Derek (aka “theoparadox”) wrote:

        The “New Jerusalem” translation is a corrupted text…

        Crise cardiaque! Are you also therefore impugning the New American Standard translation? Μὴ γένοιτο!!

        As for your point “B.” … the less said, the better. :P

        To allay idle curiosity:

        כְּסוּס עָגוּר כֵּן אֲצַפְצֵף אֶהְגֶּה כַּיּוֹנָה דַּלּוּ עֵינַי לַמָּרוֹם אֲדֹנָי עָשְׁקָה־לִּי עָרְבֵנִי׃

        = 108 characters (without cantillation marks). Twitter counts vowel points, it seems. (How do I know that??)

        :)

        (I’m beginning to think Phillip Marshall made the most cogent comment: “Oh my. What hath James wrought?” :) )

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  16. This is humorous, but the flaw in your arguement is that tha Virtue argument applies to 95% of all social networking.

    What does it say about my narcisstic tendencies that I think I am so important that others want to read about my lunch, the weather, and other random thoughts on a blog, myspace, facebook, etc.

    Like reality TV shows, some of the social networking, twitter incl, is of value and some isn’t. No one can argue with the way that the first season of CBS’s Survivor changed the television landscape forever, and reality television continues to evolve, influencing the national culture. Twitter is another of the transformational influences on the web. Not because it is, but because of how people choose to use it.

    “Cogito, ergo tweet.” Descartes for the 21sts century.

    • “Like reality TV shows, some of the social networking, twitter incl, is of value and some isn’t.”

      I agree, of course. Although I would never admit it in public, I have a Facebook account and sometimes I even enjoy using it. :)

      The post was just a humorous (I hope) way to work out some mild annoyance at the faddishness, superficiality, and triviality of the current obsession with Twittering. But in all seriousness, I see that it can be useful for certain purposes.

      Give it a few years and I’ll probably have jumped on the bandwagon too.

  17. Pingback: In Light of the Gospel » Blog Archive » Philosophical Arguments against Twitter

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  19. Very humorous and well done! I can’t imagine myself ever using twitter, although I reserve the right to change my mind at a later date.

    I think the Pop Christianity argument raises the most interesting question. Would Jesus tweet? That might be what it takes to get me to register for twitter!

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