Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Are "dinner tweets" really trivial?

Are 'dinner tweets' - you know those tweets describing what the twitterer is about to tuck into (e.g. "I'm preparing pan-fried seabass on a coulis of ...") - really as trivial as Twitter's detractors claim?

I'm tempted to argue that they play a part in the 'taste performances' (Liu 2008) that are integral to most social networking sites. It's one of the ways I project or perform my identity online.

By describing to followers what I'm preparing and/or eating I'm also performing a particular identity. For example, if I tweet that I'm cooking a dish with locally-sourced ingredients that keeps the food miles down, I'm projecting an identity that's discerning and environmentally aware; if, on the other hand, I tell you I'm serving up a dessert of frozen Creme Eggs, the identity I'm performing is offbeat and fun-loving.

Far from being part of the anti-Twitter camp's imagined stream of trivia, the 'dinner tweet' is, in fact, an integral part of the repetoire through which twitterers perform the 'ongoing narrative of the self' (Merchant 2006: 238).

So, next time someone moans about 'twitterhea' and the banality of the 'dinner tweet', tell them it's all about identity performance and refer them to Pierre Bourdieu and Anthony Giddens.


Liu, H. (2008). Social Network Profiles as Taste Performances. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 13(1): 252-275.
Retrieved April 29, from

Merchant, G. (2006). Identity, Social Networks and Online Communication. E-Learning, 3(2): 235-244


Clara said...

And there I was thinking tweeting about creme eggs was sharing a new, wondrous discovered wisdom. :)

Have you gone for a wander through Butler's thoughts on performativity?

Tony McNeill said...

Kinda, dash of Goffman, smidge of Bourdieu, a generous helping of Giddens and a garnish of Butler ...