General Anxieties about Twitter

It is a sad, neurotic activity. (A cross of twiddle and titter.) Repetitive, compulsive, hyper-caffeinated. The behavior of the sleep-deprived and the shell-shocked. A trauma-victim’s nervous tick. The stutterer’s affliction, a source of shame, an embarrassment. A heart murmur. A spasm–a lack of self-control. A self-destruction. The desperate last-ditch effort of the ego. An undignified death.

The totem belongs in a children’s cartoon, or on a box of cereal, the kind with more sugar than fiber or vitamins. A possible narrative, to be deployed in a series of ten-second, five-second, two- or three-second episodes: (1) the children wake up and their breakfast cereal is gone! (2) They try to cook something of substance, but it is too difficult, so they give up. (3) They think they see the cereal box, a tall oblong object on a shelf, but upon closer inspection it is only a book. (4) There is a sound coming from a cell phone. On its screen is the insane blue bird, its pale, inflated head, its lidless, insomniac eyes. The bird has the children’s cereal, only now it’s twice as sugary and with half the nutrients. The bird offers the children all the cereal they want. They beg for it. It’s free! They demand it. The children eat the cereal like a candy.

When they try to tell one another how happy they are to have the cereal, the children are speechless. They can only make a sound. It is the same sound they heard coming from the cell phone. The sound is: tweet.

It is the onomatopoeia of frailty and underdevelopment. A feeble, malnourished, infantile sound. Not a word, a nonsense word. A looking-glass (navel-gazing) tautology of a word. A shrill monosyllable, a void, an absence of context, a signifier without a signified. A pitiful, clueless sound. Tweet. But a supplicating sound. Tweet! A distressful sound. TWEET!

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6 Responses to General Anxieties about Twitter

  1. Reid,

    You da man.I wish I had anything like this sort of stylistic outburst left in me. Unfortunately, I have nothing left in the tank. I’m a shell of myself. I’m chasing shadows. I have receded into the voicelessness of the unbegotten. Keep on keepin’ on.

  2. Also, stop being so neurotic. Twitter isn’t going to be immortalized in stone. Think of it as bringing back the aphorism. Some examples of kick ass tweets:

    A penny saved is a penny earned.

    The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.

    Do you have anything to declare?
    Only my genius.

    A rose is a rose is a rose.

    God is dead.

    A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.

    We have convictions only if we’ve studied nothing thoroughly. (This was a totally random EM Cioran quote but he is the post-Nietzsche master of the tweet).

    So lighten up bud. None of us are anywhere equal to the skill level of the above rhetors. But we can attempt. Or we can just be snarky jackasses. Yes, we can always do that. Fire and forget. Fire and forget.

  3. leckiemc says:

    “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction. ”

    And she must kill the Angel in the House. Kill your angel, Reid. Kill her.

    Also, I read this three times because I thought it was a Lu Ming-esque story you live by at first. Very correlative, very first problematic. So, are you saying my tweets are junk food? Because I’ll take it – you know you like some Cinnamon Toast Crunch up in your breakfast every now and then. . .a little Lucky Charms? eh? eh? C’mon, you don’t gotta lie to kick it. 🙂

    Fire and forget, Andy? Really? This just sounds so dirty.

  4. hassaa says:

    I love it! Beautifully wrought

  5. Jim Porter says:

    Bringing back the aphorism, I like that. Reid did successfully kill his Angel, I would say. And yes, beautifully wrought.

  6. Ben says:

    Since we’re all being silly, here’s a poem:


    Buchner bids us aphorize
    and zingers stack up through the skies.

    Pith and wit from far and close
    amalgamates in this verbose

    cyber-world of tweeted cries.
    They can’t keep up, my tired eyes.

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