More often than not, the use of social media suggests an anguish generally experienced only in watching the work of M. Night Shyamalan. That is to say, it was empty of content, drenched in quick-fix sentiment and a dark misuse of the afternoon. One might feel lost, confused and frankly livid that everyone told you that this really was a must-see.

Some years ago, hours of experimentation in now derelict medium Friendster made me feel exactly as Shyamalan had. Puzzled in the gloom of an exasperating maze, I saw nothing but Dead People. And if not exactly dead, then certainly drained of animus. Friendster friends chronicled their moods, relationships and favourite songs in an emerging routine that would save us, apparently, from the zombifying blight of Top Down media. But, with their abridged text and bleak gestures toward the culture’s artefacts, these avatars seemed bloodless themselves. Like Mark Wahlberg in The Happening, everyday zombies seemed hopelessly miscast in the role of saviour.

Since Friendster, social media and opportunities for user generated content have evolved. Or, rather, erupted like an ordinary weekend rash on the teenaged thighs of the internet.

Unlike a teenager’s weekend (or the films of M. Night) Web 2.0 hasn’t been all bad, though. Amid the bad blogs, indifferent flames and flavourless spamming, we’ve seen some extraordinary acts.

Legitimate saviours, for example, emerged during the Saffron Revolution. Flickr, Facebook and hand-held devices not only brought news of Burma to the world. The “third pillar” of the revolution put out intelligence to other dissidents.

The merit of a medium like MySpace is not diminished by an invitation to a party in Narre Warren. But nor is it defined by the valour of Burma’s insurgents.

Just try questioning the merit of Twitter to anyone occupied with #IranElection, though.

By now, you’ve heard the term “Twitter Revolution”. NYU Professor Clay Shirky is one of many tech-intellectuals who employ the term and won’t shut the eff up about the toppling of the Top Down.

Just like anyone who has feverishly hit the hash button in recent days, Shirky is convinced that Twitter was instrumental in the organisation of protests within Iran.

It’s true that some of the Iran images and text leaked by Twitter to the world were shocking. Video of the bloody death of Neda Agha-Soltan has already acquired a cultural significance akin to the photographs of Kim Phuc, the naked, burned nine year old girl running from a South Vietnamese napalm attack.

But, as reported in Businessweek and elsewhere, there were fewer than 100 people actively twittering in Iran. Further, Twitter provides no way to aggregate or privilege these voices. In the end, what could be heard on Twitter was white noise from the west.

I have been told by my few subscribers that I am far too old for Twitter. I don’t understand it; I don’t know how to navigate it; I’m yet to transition from print to text. And, btw, why wrn’t u green last week, helenrzr :(?

Perhaps this is true. Tweeting feels unnatural and compulsory to me; not an effortless act of free will. It feels worse that the films of M Night, in fact. To Re Tweet my friend Beth, who has deleted her account, it feels like nothing so much as sober Karaoke; an insubstantial merriment that only works with hash.