Hot stuff: I read recently that singer John Mayer has dropped his Twitter account, and so far, more than 1400 people have registered their opinions…via Twitter, of course. So does anyone care — outside of the 1400?
Well, we can be relatively comfortable that little sleep will be lost and that Mr. Mayer’s career will continue onward. But what is striking is the impact of a communications tool that was introduced less than five years ago. According to Mayer’s own reckoning, more than three million fans monitored his every move, provided, doubtless in vivid detail, by one Tweet after another. Rockin’ Robin, indeed!
Granted, the limits of posts on Twitter do cater to short attention spans, but who would have the time, let alone the inclination, to keep tabs on a man’s less pertinent functions day after day, month after month? Recall the three million. To be sure, brevity can be a virtue, and the best writers you’ve ever read have understood this, but to be a purveyor of the sound-bite would seem to me to exhibit almost no imagination or depth. Like so many, I lament the slow fade of newspapers with stories that provide detail and color that can require two, three, and even four jump-pages. Twitter, by contrast, has virtually given up on substantive exchanges of views, and encourages only lower-case phrases, and wildly punctuated at that. Can simple hand signals and grunting be far behind?
Well, nuts. Call this my major bitch about what passes for communication in our new age that purports to prize connectivity even while it degrades it. You can’t love and admire a well-constructed sentence and not be appalled. It’s true that every generation or so feels compelled to fashion a few clichés — for mine it was expressions like “man,” “cool” and it’s not really counterpart, “hot” — but now we’re seeing a retreat from any useful language at all. And this is considered modern, current.
So does it matter? As the exchange of ideas and feelings and notions is systematically dumbed down, is the overall quality of life reduced? Is our world made less? There are those who would argue that as long as we keep talking to each other we progress, never mind the sophistication, never mind the craft.
As a practical matter, wrong.
I’ve already railed about the cluttered language of kids and new adults and the reliance on inflection, but this is somehow worse. Unless the writer is good, really good, there is almost no room for detail or substance. What you’re stuck with is attitude and point of view, long on opinion while short on any reason for it. Basically, one side of a shouting match. It’s a lot like a guy roaring up beside you in his car, rolling down the window, and yelling, “I jumped your sister last night and she was lousy…and so was her cousin…your left front is going flat!” And then he lights out in a cloud of dust, while you try to retrieve your jaw.
Never mind that “two,” “too,” and “to” are all represented by the number 2, and that the variations of “you” have been limited to the letter “u,” the entire usable lexicon on Twitter has been reduced to perhaps a couple of hundred words, run over and over and over without the slightest nod to phonetics.
It’s amazing, when you think about it — and obviously I have. In the time I’ve taken to bang out this note, tens of thousands of messages have been penned and sent in Twit-glish to eager recipients, who have doubtless responded in kind. What will be lacking, of course, what probably has been lacking, is real precision, an essential in effective communication.
Man. Kids, right? And in 2 many cases, like, u know, adults talking like kids.