August 14th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

As I return from a large foray into the realm of Procrastination, or more accurately sneak under the fence into the realm of Finality from which I will likely soon be deported back into my native homeland, I am trying to wrap my head around Twitter.

I got curious, and clicked on a Twitter link today.  It was the twitter account for a fictitious character, likely deigned and designed by the same author who writes this character in their original medium.  Like so many others, this particular Twitter account was set to follow others…including a fictitious character from a completely different story-universe.

These two characters don’t exist in reality…do they?

They have stories told about them.  People read these stories, and so they exist in the imaginations of the readers.  People tell these stories, and so they exist in the minds of the writers.  People put these characters on T-shirts, and the only obvious clue as to their factual existence is the fact that they are both animated, drawn characters …and in this way, they might exist, if only for a moment, in the minds of strangers who would not through their own interests pursue the mediums in which they are characterized.

But…what if someone merely pursues a random link via Twitter and begins following these conversations, and at least for a time does not recognize their fictitious nature?  For a time, in the mentioned hypothetical mind, they will attain a level equal to that of any other twitterer, from a real life friend to Barack Obama.

This relational equality would not in fact be difficult, due to the fractious snap-shot nature of the medium.  In 140 characters, a person’s intent to communicate is simultaneously distilled and truncated.  It is both incredibly pure…and incredibly shallow.
I delightedly ran through the “public” thoughts of some actors that I found.  “How entertaining,” thought I.

Followed quickly by this came the question, “is this real?”  How much of what this particular actor is saying is for the benefit of his audience, looking for sympathy or a quick laugh?  Is that singer really just telling a person that they respect that yes, this restaurant actually is quite nice?

Comedian and actor Dane Cook once mentioned in a Wired article that it is important for him to update his MySpace constantly, to encourage his fans to A) keep coming back, and B) to be his fans.  So Twitter is a marketing gimmick.

A random account thanks all of the people that offered condolences over the loss of a loved one.  So Twitter is a social communication device.

One friend tells another, simply, I love you.  So Twitter is for relationships.

Fictitious characters joke and authors crack wise.  So Twitter is for entertainment.

Yes.  All of these, and none of these.  It can be a very powerful tool…but like so many other advents, especially those that have developed online in the past twenty years…it can also be dangerous.

You don’t know these people.  Any of them.  I don’t care whose Twitter you’re updated on, be it Ryan Seacrest or your spouse.  You don’t know this person.

I was once told, by a man that I consider wise, that it takes thirty to fifty years to truly know a person, if it is possible at all.  Time spent together before puberty counts for double.

Following, or even participating, in these Twitter conversations easily shows a solid relationship.  You can get a picture of who this person is, and you think you might know something about them.

Do not forget the lesson of Welles’ presentation of War of the Worlds, and its descendant, Lonelygirl15.  Your reality is what you can touch.  Any farther than a few feet, and you begin running into the designs of others.  Your reality is defined by your perception of reality, and that quickly injests the filtered presentations of the world around you.  Architecture, makeup, advertising, posture, food, clothes, a shout into the wind, all carry intent (whether conscious or not), and very little of it is yours!

So then, should we cut ourselves off from the world?  Should every man truly be their own island?

No.  At the very least, seek to make archipelagos.  If intent of the one is motivation, and intent of the many is culture and government (society), then seek out the intent of others!  Jump in, feet first, and make a splash!

Understanding, like perfection is both impossible and worthy to strive for.  Tweet!  Follow Tweets!  Read websites!  Post blogs!  Call your friends on the phone!  Hug someone, kiss someone!  Any of these!  All of these!  Expand yourself, and your world.

For in every observation, there is a change in the observer.  I read the tweet of one actor, and was challenged to draw my own soul in a picture and post it for the world (via a particular forum) to see.  I read the tweet of a politician, and was encouraged to educate myself as to the workings of my government.  I read the tweet of a celebrity I once thought shallow, and was humbled, shamed, and inspired by the words that I was led to.

And, in the end, I was encouraged to get of my ass and write a post for this blog.

So thank you, Twitter.  Let’s see where this takes us.