April 16, 2009

Finding Eloquence in 140 wrds or ls.

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My boredom and lack of schoolwork has inspired productive new heights for my Internet identity.
Yesterday morning, as I was creeping on M.I.A. and Diplo’s Twitter cat fight, it suddenly dawned on me that I was no more than a no-good creeper, since I don’t know either of them … and since I didn’t even have a Twitter to call my own. So, while surfing a website to which I didn’t belong, reading M.I.A.’s comments, like, “u r a [“c u next Tuesday”] get a grrl,” was when I realized: today would be the first day of the rest of my Internet life.
I would get a Twitter.
The logic behind me upgrading was that if I’m going to creep, I should at least be a self-respecting, introspective creep: one who can micro-blog about how she’s feeling about the act of anonymous creeping at any given moment.
Yes, I may have missed the boat on reading blogs religiously, and on signing up for RSS feeds, and on getting a Blackberry, and on getting an iPhone, But having a Twitter — and being only one of 15 of my friends and loved ones (including my dad [!!!]) who has one — I feel that I am on the cusp of something huge. I see a 140-character limit future wherein anyone can speak his mind; a future where “speaking your mind” is taken quite literally; a future where your most inane thoughts — about doing the laundry, or going grocery shopping, or taking an online survey — are published and disseminated for all to read, as if these quips were culturally significant. The future is bright and I’m part of it.
So to pay an homage to my favorite new website, I am going to play a fun game and write the rest of this article as if I were “tweeting.” Remember, that means that I have only 140 characters per sentence (less than a txt msg!) to pour my guts onto the page. Ernest Hemingway, eat yr hrt out.
Certainly, Twitter can be a dummy’s playground, a breeding ground for frivolous commentary. Yes, many people post about the most self-indulgent of things, usually punctuated by too many exclamation points. Yes, these people have mostly abandoned grammar and punctuation rules. And yes, they’ve degraded their spelling so much that John Webster would be ashamed.
Let’s also not forget that Twitter has spawned all sorts of crazy inventions, like the cat door that blogs every time kitty goes in / out. Or what about the office chair that uses vibration sensors to record and blog farts? (Twitter, what a hoot you are!)
Sure, Twitter may be a bright, new future, but it is certainly not a highfalutin one.
That said, the website is beginning to find another, more serious niche. Like text messaging, Twitter requires you input only the most necessary information, or else run out of room. This limiting format has important implications for polling public opinion with relative ease. In the article, “Finding Utility in the Jumble of Tweeted Thoughts,” The New York Times recently reported on this phenomenon (Claire Cain Miller, Apr. 13).
Since one of Twitter’s functions is to send / upload tweets to the Internet via cell phones, the companies were able to gather real-time reactions in manageably sized bits. They noted if customers liked or disliked certain products for any reason — valuable data for consequent releases.
And just consider other Twitter possibilities!
Could you imagine if Barack had a Twitter?! It would read something like “@barackobamausa: our country is still in crisis … keep hope alive. e.g. my new dog bo lrnd a new trick 2day and Mich’s garden is in full-bloom. not all is lost 4 the us.” These tweets, sent instantly to any cell, could be more inspiring, more in touch with the people, and frankly just hipper than FDR’s fireside chats — if not as substantive.
Twitter, for all of its incessant chirping, certainly does split opinion. Of course there are detractors who don’t understand, care about or want a Twitter. Yes, I’ve been called a twat for wanting to twit (tweet?). Yet, 3LW philosophizes it best, singing in their sassy hit “Playas Gon’ Play”: “Them hatas, they gonna hate/ Them ballas, they gonna ball.”
Indeed, 3LW — as always — sang simple, universal truths. LeBron will continue to ball until the NBA Finals (holla!), and until Twitter catches fire like so much of Michael Jackson’s coiffe, I will get flak for riting lyke dis. And I’m okay with that.
… so long as you don’t mind me smack-talking @ you in 140 characters or less.