Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The new dark ages in 140 characters or less.

Due in part to the recent ascent of Twitter I've been developing a new theory about the trajectory of mankind.
I love technology. Love it. I could not imagine doing without such wonderful creations as (just to name a few): cars, indoor plumbing, washing machines (both clothes and dishes), preservatives, et. al.
I even love computers. I really do. I'm no Luddite on the new internet phenomenons either. I've been down with most everything I've been able to get on board with (facebook, blogging sites, etc.).

Having said that, I feel as if Twitter is one of the horses of the apocalypse that will usher in the new dark ages.
The continuum is not a line. It's not reactionary, knee-jerkery with spirits and miasma and witches and kettles on one end and books and glasses and classical music and Terry Gross on the other.
I believe once you have too much information, once you're so overloaded there's no telling what you'll see next that you never asked for, that it can come back around the other side.
Nothing sticks out any more. Nothing is elevated above the chatter. Mix making the means of media production free to all with our ever-shrinking attention spans, everything becomes fun-sized and empty because there's less to go around. (It's never fun to get the fun-sized, right?)
It also makes everything relevant so nothing is. There's no reason for a story any more. We're all making headlines.
We don't want verses so we all just shout choruses at each other.
It takes too long to write well about something important so we break everything up into little pieces and tweet about it.
I run a once-per-week podcast about short writing. One of my favorite collections is entitled "The World's Shortest Stories" that features nothing but 55-word stories. Short writing can be beautiful. I appreciate well-used brevity.
But there is a world of difference between a carefully-crafted spat of word play and the need to know or express every single action a human being goes through in the course of a day.
There is not more information just because we have more ways to receive and broadcast it.
I have no faith in the faceless mob mentality and once everything ends up in the steaming pile of random emotions and feelings all this is rapidly is becoming, what sticks out?
What does an exclamation mark mean if every single sentence ends with them?

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