Zits doesn't get Twitter

I generally enjoy Zits. It’s a one-joke strip—sort of like the Lockhorns—but it does its one joke well. What makes it work for me is the way it understands both sides of the parent/teen relationship and doesn’t always make one side the butt of the jokes.

But today’s strip just wrong.

First, what kind of Twitter client is Jeremy using? Instead of a picture, there’s a violet square next to each of his mother’s tweets. In my morning newspaper—which does not have the benefit of color—the squares are white, making the whole thing look like an undone to-do list. I’m not looking for absolute fidelity here, and I understand that space is limited. But wouldn’t the entries have looked more Twitter-like had each tweet been accompanied by a little sketch of Connie Duncan? I don’t think this is asking too much. Artist Jim Borgman’s been drawing her for a dozen years; surely he could evoke the “essence of Connie” in just a few pen strokes.

Next, there’s the final tweet, which is directed at Jeremy. It’s inconceivable to anyone who actually uses Twitter that that entry doesn’t start with @.

Finally, there’s the punch line, which is what really makes the strip wrong. Jeremy is 15 or 16 years old. He is not going to be teaching his mother to use Twitter, even by mistake, because teenagers don’t use Twitter.

Teens use Facebook. Teens use text messaging. In fact, as I was reading the strip, I assumed Connie was texting Jeremy. A punch line in which Jeremy regrets teaching his mom how to text would have rung true. I know lots of middle-aged women—and even a couple of middle-aged men—who have learned how to text in order to communicate with their teenaged children. It’s not unusual for the kids to see this as an invasion into an otherwise parent-free area of their lives.

But Twitter’s been in all the papers and has been associated with “young people,” and writer Jerry Scott apparently felt compelled to incorporate it. So we end up with a strip that’s as clueless and out of touch as if it had been done by Mort Walker.