WD Fyfe

A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society

The Twitterpatter of Little Tweets

I’m way too old to understand Twitter.  I know what it is – obviously – I don’t live in a cave.  But I have no emotional attachment to it; therefore, I can’t possibly understand it.  It’s always been my experience that you have to care about something before you can figure out how it works.  For example, I don’t care how the microwave works: zap my burrito and I’ll be on my way.  It might be heat; it might be light; for all I know it might be a little guy with a blow torch.  The transformation from frozen to food doesn’t interest me.  Twitter, however, fascinates me.  Unfortunately, I’m not young enough to see it as an intimate part of life.  I grew up with other things that take precedence.  It’s as if I were my own grandfather, trying to understand why everybody is so captivated by the magic box in the living room where grey-tone Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz live.  It’s nice, but I’ve got other things to do.

Twitter is changing the way we live — D’uh!  But, not in that vacant “everybody’s on Facebook” kind of way.  Yes, everybody’s on Facebook, but most of us have figured out that while Facebook works fine as an ego repository, nobody’s going to change the world by clicking the “Like” icon.  Twitter is more than just being connected, putting on the brag and showing everybody our pictures.  It actually makes us communicate.  Not since the Golden Age of letter writing, when the Victorians introduced regular and inexpensive mail service, has there been such an outpouring of social communication.  It’s as if there’s a gigantic cocktail party going on, 24/7, and everyone’s invited.  Of course, as at any cocktail party, there are a bunch of dolts over by the food, talking nonsense, and most of the rest of the room is as dull as my half-heated burrito.  However, interesting people will gravitate to each other (or to the bar) and Twitter lets them do that – on a scale worthy of the pyramids.

A couple of rainy afternoons ago, I wandered through this electronic booze cruise and randomly gleaned (“stole” is such a hard word) some of this good stuff.  The kicker is it only took me a little over an hour and here are just a few of the results.  I’ve changed them slightly from Twitterspeak.

I wish I had two more middle fingers for you.
Deja Moo: Same old bull
I have heels higher than your standards.
I hope when the shark comes, you don’t hear the music.
Are you Voldemort’s child?
Don’t you think if I was wrong, I would know it?
I can only aspire to be the person my dog thinks I am.

I could go on and on.  If Dorothy Parker were alive today, her head would explode.  The entire world is playing Algonquin Hotel, and Twitter is the Round Table.

Yet, even as you read this, people are lamenting the passing of the written word and damning YouTube for filming the eulogy.  They see texting and Twitter as mind-numbing barbarians who are putting Shakespeare’s quill pen legacy to the sword.  However, there are more words being written today than at any other time in human history.  There are more words being read, more conversations taking place and more ideas being exchanged.  Certainly, most of them are crap, but that’s the nature of democracy: everybody gets a voice.  My point is, though, so far, Twitter is not only saving the written word (140 characters at a time) it’s finding its own place in history.  It, along with texting, are reviving the art of written communication that cheap and easy telephones almost destroyed.   Young people all over the world are thumbing away at each other, sitting in schools and at the dinner table looking down at their crotches and laughing.  The wit and wisdom of the 21st century is sitting there — right in their lap.

This is the Twitter revolution that I’m never going to be able to understand.  I think it’s a wonderful, magical thing, but, as Mark Twain would have texted, “Too bad Tweets are wasted on the young.”

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This entry was posted on March 5, 2012 by in Social Comment and tagged , , , , , , .
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