Here’s a nicely nuanced and truly elegant little meditation on the meanings (note the plural) of Twitter in an age of universally blogified (in the bad sense) writing — with equal attention given to the latter phenomenon.
Few things could appear much worse, to the lurker, glimpser, or guesser, than this scrolling suicide note of Western civilization. Never more than 140 characters at a time? Looks like the human attention span crumbling like a Roman aqueduct. The endless favoriting and retweeting of other people’s tweets? Sounds like a digital circle jerk. Birds were born to make the repetitive, pleasant, meaningless sounds called twittering. Wasn’t the whole thing about us featherless bipeds that we could give connected intelligible sounds a cumulative sense?
…The Rise of the Tweet takes place amid an internet-induced cheapening of language, in both good and bad senses. The economic cheapness of digital publication democratizes expression and gives a necessary public to writers, and types of writing, that otherwise would be confined to the hard drive or the desk drawer. And yet the supreme ease of putting words online has opened up vast new space for carelessness, confusion, whateverism…[A]ll contemporary publications tend toward the condition of blogs, and soon, if not yet already, it will seem pretentious, elitist, and old-fashioned to write anything, anywhere, with patience and care.
…Enter — ambiguously — Twitter [which has fostered] the very last thing to have been expected from the internet: a renovation of the epigram or aphorism, a revaluation of the literary virtues of terseness and impersonality…So Twitter doesn’t only have the widely recognized usefulness of providing updates on news and revolution, and illuminating links, and many laughs and smirks. It has also brought about a surprising revival of the epigrammatic impulse in a literary culture that otherwise values the merely personal and the super-colloquial as badges of authenticity.
FULL STORY: “Please RT,“ n+1, June 14, 2012 (from Issue #14)