Dr. Dawg

Twitter no more

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Das Gerede, Martin Heidegger called it, “idle chatter.” It’s the sea of everyday speech in which all of us are immersed, and from which most of us never emerge. Those who manage to do so are answering a silent call of conscience.

If there were ever a perfect model of das Gerede, it would have to be Twitter. I have Tweeted for years now, drowning in ephemeral and worthless commentary. We are not meant to speak to each other in twenty-five words or less. This isn’t concision, but truncation.

At its best, Twitter points elsewhere, to news links, or even to lengthy and thoughtful analyses that encourage us to wrestle once more with our angels. Seldom, however, does a Tweet, or a series of them, contain or convey much content. Jeet Heer has attempted the Twitter essay, but for me this is rather like trying to put the theory of relativity into rhyming couplets. Twitter is a fundamentally unserious medium. It is too small to contain who we are or what we mean.

Worse, it is highly addictive. The Twitterverse is populated by Gabor Maté’s hungry ghosts. It’s Usenet on a slightly higher level, moderated by the blocking and muting function and by its enforced brevity, but it’s still a park for the self-indulgent, with their endless unsatisfied craving for interaction.

Guilty, by the way. No Ishmael, I.

For years I have had two major writing projects on the go. I’ve dillied and dallied and found excuses and procrastinated. I want to complete them. There is nothing that aids procrastination like Twitter. And blogging, but I’ll get to that in a moment.

What decided me? My own voice on Twitter. Wasted words. Crazed interlocutors. The hissing and spitting of ideological pallbearers, shouldering their dead creeds, barging their way through the crowds, shouting commands and imprecations. Shoddy market stalls. Affectation. Trolls. Poseurs of every stripe. Wilful misunderstanding to alibi the gushing toxic spill of call-out culture. Straw men and women. Narcissism.

There are wonderful folks on Twitter. I’ve become firm friends with people I’ve never seen in the flesh. We’ve called to each other through the crowd-noise, tossing a little sustenance to each other. But this is no longer enough, if it ever was.

Blogging has been my other joyful distraction. I’m not ready to give it up, but I won’t be writing as many articles, or as my father would have called them, squibs. I put thought and passion into those pieces, but it’s a zero-sum game: every morning one has a finite amount of what Hemingway called “juice,” and what goes into my op-ed-type opinion writing is what doesn’t go into my long-term creative work.

Now I get to find out if I’m serious. It’s about time.

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This page contains a single entry by Dr. Dawg published on April 21, 2015 8:38 AM.

Minority Report was the previous entry in this blog.

A few words of gratitude is the next entry in this blog.

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