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Twanking

June 14, 2013

Sharp-eyed readers will notice that Subverbo now has a Twitter sidebar. Since the first I heard of it I thought Twitter sounded really dumb, but I got tired of holding this opinion without any experience to back it up. Eventually you want to get to know what you disdain. So I joined up. It is pretty dumb. The whole idea of 140-character micro-blogging seems wrong-headed to begin with, but then you look at the actual realization, the design of the thing, and it is a little worse than that. Eventually though, you get used to it, and it becomes both less objectionable and less interesting. A week ago I would have had much to write about Twitter, but now I think this post will be short, and I am starting to think I should have just fired off a few tweets rather than blog about it at all. But I see that I have not … uh … “tweeted” (the word seems so much worse as a verb than as a noun, worse as something you do, which makes you a doer of it, which is an identity: a tweeter, a twanker, a twit) at all since Saturday, so maybe that phase of my life is over. Yet I suspect I shall tweet again. The Twitterification of Alonzo Subverbo has just begun.

But of course there is a charm and pleasing challenge to the formal constraint of one hundred and forty characters. Maybe some day they will bump it up to two hundred, and old timers — maybe me or maybe you — will grumble about how the poetry and distinction has been lost from Twitter. I feel something like that about Facebook status updates, from back when that’s what they were — the beauty was coming up with a statement that began with your name, in the third person, and that fit within the character limit. Now it’s just people gabbing about, writing whatever they please. Without constraint there is no pleasure, some will say, and sales of silken ropes and fur-lined manacles remain brisk everywhere.

While Facebook acts, in part, as a machine for the production of loneliness, Twitter is more benign in its affective work. There is no simulacrum of friendship or any kind of real life, just atoms in the void, bits of meaning briefly reaching out for connection before falling into oblivion. It is no more disturbing, maybe just as soothing, as white noise. Sometimes a flash of color, a brief melodic line of meaning, will catch your attention for a moment. Little bits of gravel might jump out from the stream to lodge in your mind and — who knows? — from tweets pearls may come. But mostly it is just a steady seamless roar.

At the most basic level it is all one simple message, endlessly repeated: I am here, I am here. We might flinch at this, because we would like to think it unnecessary to make the proclamation. So vulgar! So desperate! But if you allow for humanity you can see it as beautiful. The truth of the human spirit was best expressed by Kilroy. What is better than being here?

Once you have blogged about tweeting, you know there is no going back, no matter how much you might want to.

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One Comment
  1. christina oleary permalink

    I fucking hate you. just sayin

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