Thursday, February 26, 2009

I Tweet therefore I Am

I was thinking, just now as I was noticing that all the snow has disappeared from the yard, why twitter has become so appealing not just to me, but to the masses. I believe with twitter there is a strong correlation to the solitary spoken utterance. Tweeting is much like making any statement in normal conversation. You say something, usually less than the 140 character limit of twitter, but sometimes up to the limit, but rarely over it and then you may or may not wait for a suitable response from your interlocutor. The difference, of course, is that it is not a normal conversation. There is no interlocutor built in. You are making proclamations in twitter--choosing willy nilly who you want to respond to or not. Ultimately you are saying "I am here. This is what I say. Screw you."

Now with twitter, of course, as with normal conversations, sometimes your statements go unnoticed, so you either repeat them or move on with the flow. Sometimes you completely ignore any attempt at conversation and just make your statements as if you are some sort of radio commentator not expecting interaction. The key is that you are a radio host--you are the writer--you are the solo speaker who gets to say what's on your mind.

In some ways that "I can say this and you better lump it" works well for twitter. It is the ultimate in individualistic display. "I'm here and listen to me tweet" it says. Listen is the important part: it isn't about reading, it is about hearing the utterance.

Ah the utterance: the spoken moment.

Twitter allows us all just to say the one thing, much like writing lets us ignore the reader and just put it out there. Yes, yes, I know writing is all about the reader, but it is a very self-centered activity, isn't it? It is all about hearing ourselves talk (and liking it) rather than engaging in a conversation.

I am here! Hear me tweet!

I am here! Read my blog!

I am here! Read my novel!

I am here! Read my poems!

I am here! Read my tweets.

How embarrassing.

Now, of course, we have to decide if writing of any sort is anything more than a self-centered, self-deceptive act. Plato thought it was self-deceptive, now didn't he. He thought it was a lie. A fantasy, if you will. The shadows on the wall loom large with "writing." It is the playground where we can put letters together to mean what we want and give it out to the world to let them do what they want with it.

If you are waiting for some joke, I'm not going to make it. The very purpose of Signifying nothing is to explore these complexities, after all. How are we represented in text and how does that reality make us and shape us and force us to be human beings.


  1. I don't think I exist...or...I don't think; I exist.
    In any case, I like your slideshow.

  2. When people ask "what, exactly, is twitter?", I refer them to this post.

    Your readership is growing.

  3. I think you're right about Twitter, and I especially think you nail it with your variations on Descartes.

    Have you been reading Doonesbury? This week, it's all about Twitter and it is hilarious.

  4. I actually haven't been sucked into the Twitter world just yet... but i figure it's all a matter of time.