Posted in Social Networking & Beyond

Excerpt from: “The Bitter and the Sweet of Twitter and the Tweet” [T-Bat-So-TatT]

TWITTER AS A SOCIAL PHENOMENON

 

In our generation, we have seen Twitter become a phenomenon. But what was behind it? And why the sudden interest in minutia?

 

I have an idea of what lay behind it. Let me say, right at the get-go that I’m not a historian. Yet, I’ll be talking history for just a moment like I’m an expert, and I’ll be leaving myself open to your censure. At 78, I’ve lived long enough to have experienced my tenure of “history” on my own gut level.

And on the gut level, doggone it, I think we are all very much alike.

So, let’s have a go at it.

Sing along: America, Invincible, God Shed His grace … A little over sixteen years ago, the foundations of our belief system, that America was invincible, crumbled before our eyes. Those great ideas that had been deeply programmed in most Americans over the centuries—the notion that ours was sacred soil—collapsed with the Twin Towers. That was a signal event in our collective feelings. (I won’t apologize for the invalidated use of “feelings” here. To the writer and poet in me, feelings are powerful forces, however fluid, and not always pin-down-able.)

We had enemies in the past, but they were always “over there”. In fact, at the beginning of WWI, George M Cohen penned the famous song “Over there”:

                        Over there, over there

                        Send the word, send the word

                        Over there

                        That the Yanks are coming, the Yanks are coming,

                        The drums are rum-tumming everywhere.”

We fought for democracy “over there”. American soil, to the mind of the average American, was consecrated ground; it was sacred and inviolable

So after Nine-Eleven, did America need a war “over there”? Don’t expect my stance on this question to be political. Whether we needed an enemy for our national sanity, I’ll not say, but we got one with our invasion of Iraq and the subsequent capture of Saddam Hussein.

Anyone more than 10-years old at the time of the invasion can attest to the overwhelming feeling of patriotism our nation manifested in the early months of  2003.

Oh, to be a flag salesman back then!

Yes, it’s safe to say that on the emotional level the nation needed a war to win.

We live in a messy world. Did the end of the Iraq invasion and Hussein’s capture and execution mean the world was once again safe for democracy?

Did we, all of a sudden, feel safe on our own shores—and more importantly—in our own skin?

Hardly! To both questions!

With our economy in a shambles and unemployment rampant, the media reminded Americans almost daily of the quandary between our need for more airport security vs. the violation of individual civil rights.

Meanwhile, there were several close calls, the shoe-bomber being the most notable. And … all this occurring during a period when we were seemingly impotent in rooting out and capturing the Kingpin of Terrorism: Osama bin Laden.

The result was—if you were to examine your own feelings at the time—a kind of generalized, free-floating fear, or at least dread, of what lay ahead.

I wonder if you remember, a few pages back, my saying (and I really, REALLY do hate quoting myself), but it’s important in this context: “There’s an honesty and innocence there [on Twitter] that really shouldn’t be decried. I’ll go a step further. If we lose that human element even (and especially) while we are trying to promote our causes or hock our wares, we’ll run the risk of losing our Twitter innocence. Individually and collectively we can become all too dry and humorless.”

 

The Birth of Twitter: Okay, so zoom ahead a couple of years to July, 2006. That was the month Jack Dorsey launched Twitter, and in a remarkably short period of time it became a worldwide phenomenon! To get a hint of why this came to be perhaps we need go no further than the founder’s words:

“ …we came across the word ‘twitter’, and it was just perfect. The definition was ‘a short burst of inconsequential information,’ and ‘chirps from birds’. And that’s exactly what the product was.”

“Inconsequential information”  What could be more reflective of an emotionally fragmented social structure, unconsciously (or in some cases consciously) seeking a mosaic wholeness out of the shards that had been the under-girding of our emotional well-being?

“Chirps from birds”:  What better expresses the innate need of a community to bind, each to the other, in the spirit of social interaction?  We are flocks. We are herds. When the foundation crumbles at our feet, instinctively we reach out—and within each other’s arms we express our humanity.

 

Does this mean Jack Dorsey knew he was creating a process that would fill a profound need in the world’s collective psyche, casting its shadow before it, right up to the present day? Of Course not!

Does the new Twitter subscriber have in the forefront of his mind an overpowering desire to throw himself, body and soul, into the warm, fluffy security of the flock?

Certainly not in the forefront of his mind. While he is still, perhaps, a bio-less “egg” (even as I say this, I see the “egg” has been replaced with a circle, and something—I suppose—representing a person inside), and his flock of followers are too sparse to share their own body heat, let along that of the new tweep’s, the process of acquiring those feeling may not occur until after he starts accumulating a sizeable feathery flock of followers.

… Which will be the subject of subsequent chapters.

 

Author:

My Twitter account identifies me as “a writer, a salesman, an optimist, a dreamer,” and adds: “may the four always cohabit and produce wondrous progeny.” Each of the first two identifies a blood-and-bone human being, living in the real world who works very hard at being honest and caring—but, who is still evolving in these areas. The last two (“optimist” and “dreamer”) are foundational qualities in my life. They keep a fire crackling under me that hopefully fuels the writer … and also the salesman, whose hat each of us is hard-wired to wear. Sandwiched somewhere between writing and selling, I attended college and even tried my hand at selling high school kids on why they should love learning and reading and writing. That was a brief stint. Whether teaching failed me or I it, I don’t know. You’d have to ask the kids—though many might be doddering by now, and some dead. Still, experientially, it is a part of me. I am married, living with my dog, Sirius, in Bakersfield, California, and separately from my wife.

11 thoughts on “Excerpt from: “The Bitter and the Sweet of Twitter and the Tweet” [T-Bat-So-TatT]

  1. Loved this one. You never disappoint me. I must add I pride myself in NOT having a twitter account. I guess I was born too long ago to have the need to blurt out thoughts even I am not interested in. Gone are the good old days.

    1. Sasha, I must say I’m shocked you don’t have a Twitter account. It seems right down your alley. I don’t think it’s having a “need” to blurt out thoughts. The format is short, but usually MORE thought goes into the preparation of my tweet than if I weren’t so restricted.

      Sasha, I am so happy you chose to follow this blog and are getting involved with the process. Each reply to a blog closes a circuit of thought. And there can be a lot of energy crackling inside, waiting to explore further.

  2. ‘a short burst of inconsequential information,’ I love it! I steadfastly refuse to tweet, chat or text, and only on rare occasions use facebook. Great write as always, Jay. How’s the garden? I harvested my pumpkins, squash and ornamental Indian corn last week. I hate to think of the coming winter–but then there is always spring to look forward to~Debbie

    1. Thank you for reading, Debbie, and for your reply. Unfortunately, my garden had to take a back seat for some health concerns, recently. I’m hoping to get them resolved so I can once again, putter and pack some good dirt under my nails. Certainly sounds like you’re on top of Halloween, Debbie. Need some pictures.

  3. I’ve been very lax on Twitter for a long time. It seems like it got so negative. There’s still lots of good stuff, but those cranky tweetstorms you see going around put me off. I’ll have to dip my toe back in at some point.

  4. Thanks for adding to the comments, Sonia. I know what you mean about the aura of negativity. Too bad he couldn’t have used Face Book, instead, eh? There’s a lot of good stuff out there, though. Do give it a peek, again.

    Jay

  5. Just wanted to say hi, and thank you for talent. Tweeting just isn’t in me. But then I said that about telephones before my children spread out.
    Gene

    1. I’m so pleased you stopped by for a visit, Gene. Yeah, many people can’t abide with Twitter. I admit to a love/hate relationship with it myself, at times. I sure hope you swing by again some time.

      Jay

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