This Is Your Brain on Twitter

Note: This piece also appeared on the Huffington Post.

Two weeks ago, on a Friday night around midnight, I was loitering on the sidewalk outside a San Francisco bar with two friends, about to head home but not quite ready to call it a night. A guy standing nearby on the sidewalk told us that that our red, green, and blue jackets, respectively, made us look like the lightbeams that create a color spectrum on television sets and computers. It’s hard to imagine a geekier pick-up line than “You look like RGB!” But that’s what passes for flirtation in 2009 San Francisco in the (waning?) era of web 2.0. He wanted to take a picture of us and upload it to Flickr.

As a writer who also works a product manager in social media, I know the web 2.0 type.

I quickly realized that this web 2.0 boy was part of the Twitter cult, or, as they call themselves, the Twitterati.

The Twitterati are in full effect in San Francisco, Brooklyn, Austin, Portland, and Seattle, where members live their lives as performance art. They exist, therefore they tweet.

Whenever they watch a sunset, eat something delicious, or feel disappointed by a product, they tap out a message on their phones or laptops. Some of them tweet a few times a day, some as many as ten. Or they twitpic, uploading photos. They also seem to believe Twitter is going to revolutionize our lives.

I was looking for a bit more excitement to cap off my evening, and now I had found it. My friends went home and web 2.0 and I hung out on the sidewalk for another hour. First we talked about where we live and what we do, but then, about Twitter! His unself-conscious fervor fascinated me. I played anthropologist, listening to him gush about how Twitter was ushering in a new era of connection that we so desperately needed after the Bush era of fear and division.

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