Kim Kardashian’s instinctive approach to Twitter is a great example of how it should be used. Twitter is a medium, just as oil on canvas, pen and paper, the violin and film are mediums. I have a Twitter account but I’ve been struggling with how to use it effectively. I find that if I think of Twitter as a massive art project—an interactive conceptual art installation—it makes more sense. Tweets are often derided as shallow, meaningless chatter. But it’s the medium, not the individual tweets, that is the message.
Marshall McLuhan argued that technologies, from the wheel to the book, the computer and beyond are the messages themselves. The content of those mediums are almost irrelevant. McLuhan said, "All media work us over completely. They are so pervasive in their personal, political, economic, aesthetic, psychological, moral, ethical, and social consequences that they leave no part of us untouched, unaffected, unaltered." Social networks such as Facebook and Twitter are changing people's view of who they are and their place in the world.
Mediums like Twitter are extensions of the human senses—they expand our ability to perceive our world. McLuhan’s theory of the "Global Village" was that this new media would bring humanity full circle to a tribal mentality. Facebook and Twitter have brought about that prophecy more totally than he could ever have imagined.
Kim Kardashian is in charge of a multi-million dollar business empire that includes a clothing line, perfume, weight loss products and many others. Unlike the CEOs of most big companies, Kim Kardashian is not remote and detached. She understands that Twitter has made the world a smaller and better-connected place. Twitter is a fast, two-way interaction with ordinary people. She finds out what her fans and customers are thinking immediately. Creative use of Twitter is a fast way to go from unknown to known, unconnected to connected.
How many CEOs are as in touch with the ground level of their business as Kim Kardashian? A faceless and nameless board of directors run most large companies and hire research companies to study their customers or create focus groups. Their approach to business is uncreative. Kim Kardashian is not distant but open and transparent, and in direct contact with her customer’s thoughts and feelings through Twitter. Twitter puts her in control and prevents the media from putting words into her mouth. She controls the story by telling it herself. It’s her means of expression. Whereas other companies react to negative events slowly, she is always ahead of the game, adaptable, absorbing new trends, always looking forward.
Kim Kardashian is a fish in water. She is at home in modern culture. Twitter is fast and interactive, it reduces and simplifies, the perfect medium for our time. For someone like me who has been trying and failing to work out how to use Twitter creatively for years, Kim Kardashian is a great example. I have a Twitter account, so at least I can console myself with the fact that I am part of the project.
Rod Judkins is an artist, lecturer and writer of Change Your Mind: 57 Ways to Unblock Your Creative Self.