Friday, 10 June 2011

Twitter: Screaming Into the Electronic Abyss

My two regular followers will notice something sort of new and perhaps unexpected along the left sidebar of this here blog: my Twitter updates. Yes, I've gone and done it. If you were unfortunate enough to have read a past blog entry called Social Networking and the Angel of History without blocking out the experience as a psychological defense, you'll probably be wondering what the hell I'm thinking joining Twitter. I was, in said blog entry, just the teensiest bit critical of the boring use of Twitter and other social networking sites.

Okay. So here's how it started. It won't surprise any of you to be reminded that I am a kd lang fan. And I have been following her on a fan forum for some years now. I learned that kd and her band have started using Twitter to upate their fans on her new album and tour. So that proved too absolutely tempting. It's easy and fast to make a profile and get started on this 'microblog' site. You have 140 spaces to say what you will. It is a good exercise in saying something concise and meaningful. There is something appealing to me about this forced use of poetic sensibilities. Of course, many users simply use texting abbreviations to pack in the most information (not all of it useful) that they can. So far, I have tried to abide by the no abbreviations rule.

Maybe it's because I am middle aged, or perhaps slightly past middle age, that I compare my life as a young teen (way back in the day) to what I imagine the life of a young teen to be like now. I work in a restaurant and many of the dishwashers, waiters and waitresses are very young. They will have cherished memories of stealing each other's phones and sending lewd text messages out in the name of the hapless victim. My cherished memories involving technology are about having a stereo and speaker system in my room that allowed me to tape record an album onto a cassette tape. My God! The freedom. This allowed me to have the very portable cassette tape of my favorite album, and what's more, it allowed me to make the highly prized mixed tape. Oh, yes indeed! With such advanced technology at my fingertips I could stop the tape, put on another album, check that the needle was set right, start the tape recording and lower the needle to the vinyl. How wonderful to make a tape that had different artists on it. At the time this was a staggering amount of musical freedom, it must be said. 

These days I couldn't be bothered with something as old-school as that. Now I simply adjust my iTunes playlists. But there was a time when the painstaking ritual of mixed tape creation was enough to keep me occupied for an entire afternoon (no wonder my homework suffered). I do wonder if the fact that back then you had to record things in real time meant that I have deep, almost tactile memories of what the experience was like, what my room was like, what the ritual consisted of, what it was like to remove the album from the cover and liner, how to flip a record over in your hands without touching the grooves, all those details. Today you can download a song anywhere and add it to your playlists within seconds. Do I remember where I was and what was going on and how I felt when I downloaded Ann Wilson's cover of Immigrant Song (arguably the best cover ever of that song)? Not exactly. But if you ask my memories of Blondie's Heart of Glass, I'll tell you all about our class camping trip and the little shop with the jukebox at Lake Sacheen, and how I developed an instant crush on Andy Davis when he said he loved that song.

The point of this saunter down memory lane is to say how quickly things change.  Back when I was interspersing Heart, Fleetwood Mac, and Blondie songs on my cassette tapes, I could not have conceived of a world where I could broadcast my every thought and action to literally tens of people.  I could not conceive of a world where I could send a friend a song using an electronic device. Here's the rub. If I could have conceived of a world in which these things happen, I would not have suspected that one day I would find all of it a little underwhelming. 

That's where we are now, folks. Paris, London, Social Networking...boring. To quote the Pierces 'nothing thrills us anymore. No one kills us anymore.' Celebrities? Really boring. I got so fed up with the inane and/or constant tweeting that I dumped Annie Lennox, Kathy Griffin, and even (gulp) kd lang. Yep. I ditched them, axed them, blasted them off the page, stopped following them. And these are people I genuinely like and still have an interest in. But I just can't be bothered to scroll through their cryptic crap, their persnickety palavering, their political pontificating. Bah. Boring. One can only take so many admonishments to join this or that rally or attend this or that show. And, seriously, one can only take so many references to the movie Harold and Maude, with or without banjos (sorry kd). 

And if that's how I feel seeing other people's inane posts - how must they feel looking at mine? Doesn't matter. I have somewhere in the neighborhood of 2.5 followers. Is there anything good about twitter? Yes! My partner is funny. I like her posts. Creepy Query Girl posts links to her blog, and I nearly always click through to read her. She blogs about her writing life and she's funny and inspirational. I keep up with the latest Rachel Maddow stuff. I follow Heart, my hometown girls. They only tweet the essential info. I also follow The Selby on Twitter so that I get little reminders to check his site. If you like photos of interesting people and their homes, you'll like his blog. But as for me, I can rarely think of anything interesting to post. I do feel sometimes as if I am screaming into the electronic abyss. However, as mentioned before, the challenge of 140 spaces to say something meaningful is there and waiting.


  1. thanks for the shout out and for reading the blog! Getting followers is a process - trust me, everybody starts out with no followers;) It looks like you've got more than 2.5 now though! lol


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