Like Bud, I’ve found myself becoming something of a Twitter addict, embracing the space limitations and encouraging more impulsive streaks to fleck madly upon this microcanvas. I don’t think any of my tweets are particularly compelling, but Twitter is certainly a good deal of fun. And in a strange way, it’s actually helped me a little as a writer.
My own Twitter history has taken some twists. For a long time, I was dormant, putting up a tweet every two months or so. I had first attempted to use Twitter as a depository for pithy sentences in the style of David Markson. But this proved to be folly. This form did not serve the function. Then I used Twitter to vent about the personal, figuring that nobody was reading. But this was not the case.
Strange people began following me, seeming to believe that there were pivotal things that I was saying within this form. But now I’ve finally figured out Twitter’s purpose, which is more of the social-informational variety. I Twittered the two conventions and didn’t have to worry about how obvious my observations were. (Of course, as any improv teacher will tell you, what seems obvious to you may not be so obvious to another). I’m using it as a place for strange links. Strange as it may seem, I’m using it to ensure that just about every sentence I write is fueled by emotion.
But, most importantly, I look forward to reading other existential juxtapositions summed up in 140 characters. I’ve seen people come out of hiding because of Twitter, emboldened by a tweet and discovering that they do indeed have something to say about a circumstance. Bloggers and writers who are limited by what they are expected to write do not seem to experience the same concerns writing about other topics. Since we’re all limited to 140 characters, the playing field is level. We’re all limited to brisk declarative sentences galvanized by a steady supply of two-letter and three-letter words. Because of this, the more corporate tweets appear, well, laughably corporate. Of course, I’m sure the corporations will figure out ways to sully Twitter, just as they helped to take some of the fun out of blogging.
But for now, Twitter is not a bad place to check up on those who are swamped by email (and, hell, we all are) or those who don’t answer their phones. I’m certainly not on there all the time. And I’m certainly not advocating a life lived almost exclusively by intertextual communication. Contact with others is too important to the human spirit if you expect it to grow. But Twitter is a nifty technological apparatus offering a number of helpful ways to connect with others while learning more about the unexpected niceties of your first instinct.
© 2008, Edward Champion. All rights reserved.