“Every time I hear about Twitter I want to yell Stop. The notion of sending and getting brief updates to and from dozens or thousands of people every few minutes is an image from information hell. It scares me, not because I’m morally superior to it, but because I don’t think I could handle it.”
Many agree with the cold panic of information hell that New York Times’ author and correspondent George Packer associates with Twitter as he describes in his blog post. Last but not least, the fugaciousness of Twitter is something wonderful as well as it is frightening: nothing seems of value, nothing of lastingness.
“Education needs time – and that is lacking in the Net”, says philosopher Markus Gabriel in an interview on FAZ.net – and on Twitter one might want to add, immediate transientness is even baked into the system – Twitter’s own search does only reach two days back into the past. All the beautiful thoughts sink so quickly into the depth of the timeline that we would like to stay, but a storm is blowing from Paradise that drives us irresistibly into the future.
If I regard Twitter as news channel, I can sympathise with Parker’s panic very well. Every bit of news that has reached me for the second time (by Re-Tweet) seems outdated, somehow no longer relevant. And how desolate it feels when even the absolute media-mainstream gets replicated by Re-Tweet like here today: “Man Resigns On Twitter per Haiku”.
However, just this piece of news leads us to something in Twitter that is truly beautiful and valuable: lyrics and aphorism, beauty in linguistic cautiousness. The remarkable with Sun’s CEO’s resigning is not that he proclaimed it via Twitter. Twitter has become the most efficient channel for declarations of that kind –that’s all over town, been told by the host of social media experts for years. Remarkable is that Jonathan Schwartz chooses the meter of the Haiku. Brief real poems or exclamations, resonating in their syllables, are the beauty of Twitter for me. An update like “Mars can be seen all night” might have a factual background in astronomy. But regarded as solitary verse, the six monosyllabic words become a myth in which we get sight of the God of War, victorious over the realm of Neith.
If you do not see see Twitter just as a short messaging service, but take the metaphor “twitter” serious, the never ending deluge of text loses its terror –it is no longer information but becomes music, indeed, a stream in which you may drift away.
Sound of vernal showers
On the twinkling grass,
All that ever was
Joyous and clear and fresh—thy music doth surpass.
Teach us, sprite or bird,
What sweet thoughts are thine:
I have never heard
Praise of love or wine
That panted forth a flood of rapture so divine.
(Shelley, To a Skylark)