May 7, 2009

Giving him the tweetment

OLD WOTSISNAME STOPPED ME as I was walking past his boat the other day. “Do you twitter?” he asked.

“Nah,” I said. “It’s the birds in the bushes over there.”

“No,” he said, “Twitter with a capital T. That internet stuff. What’s it all about?”

“Well it’s a social networking arrangement,” I explained. “You make lots of friends about whom you know nothing and you write things to them.”

I should have stopped there, because that’s just about all I know about Twitter, but I can’t help myself when I’m talking to OW. He’s so gullible. It’s such wicked fun to gullify him.

“What things?” he asked.

“Things that don’t matter. What you’re wearing. What you had for breakfast. How many times you went to the toilet yesterday.”

“People want to know that?”

“Of course. Twitter enables the twitterer to inform lots of twitterees about all kinds of stuff we were too embarrassed to discuss before Twitter came along because we thought it was too trivial. Turns out it wasn’t too trivial, though. Millions of people wanted to know all along.”

“Can anybody do it?”

“Sure, though it’s not easy. You have to write tight. There’s a limit of 140 characters per tweet.”

“How many words is that?”

“About 30, I guess. For example, you could say: I wish I was a fairy prince/And if it came to pass/I’d climb up all the rocks and trees/And slide down on my . . ./Hands and knees. That’s 29 words.”

OW stared at the top of his mast and considered this in silence for a moment. “People want to know that?” he asked.

“Doesn’t matter whether they want to or not,” I said. “It’s out there for them to appreciate it if they want and to ignore it if they don’t. The main thing is that it’s out there. It’s communication. It’s stuff you’d never have known if it weren’t for Twitter, stuff that is being woven into the great historical tradition of the human race, stuff that . . .”

“It’s garbage,” said OW.

“Not everybody thinks so. People even write songs about it. Rick Springfield, for example: Tweet me gentle in the morning. The Backstreet Boys: Tweet me right. Bing Crosby: Let me call you tweetheart.”

OK, I admit I went too far, as usual. OW got that look of belated enlightenment. “I should never have asked you,” he said. “I can never get a straight answer out of you.”

He’s obviously getting to know me better. I can’t imagine how that could have happened without the help of Twitter.

Today’s Thought
The American’s conversation is much like his courtship ... He gives an inkling and watches for a reaction: if the weather looks fair, he inkles a little more.
—Donald Lloyd, The Quietmouth American, Harper’s Sep 63

“How come there’s a speckled egg in that pigeon’s nest?”
“She did it for a lark.”

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