One of the problems with power to the people is that a lot of people don’t have anything interesting to say.
For a long time I avoided Twitter, afraid that it was riddled with insipid, ridiculous micro-posts. When I finally got on there I found out I was right. And completely wrong.
It didn’t take long to realize that there are a bunch of fantastic feeds on Twitter. Great magazines like the Economist, satire sites like The Onion, hardcore tech sites like Anandtech and Tom’s Hardware, writing feeds like Story Fans that tweet about writing contests and all of the great stories they find on the web as well as many of my favorite writers, all deliver bite sized nuggets of Twitteriffic goodness, and make Twitter worth spending time on. Twitter today reminds me of the way Henry Miller described the Dark Ages in Sexus. “Here and there in the great blank wall there was a beam of light shed by the spirit of some intellectual giant who had managed to make his voice hear above the croaking of the submerged and dispirited denizens of the marshes. “
Unfortunately, these feeds are often islands in a sea of shit. It’s utterly amazing how many Twitter feeds I’ve looked at or dumped because the writers feel the need to Tweet ten times a day with brilliant posts like: “just got the restaurant” or “LOL” or “shout out to all my peeps” or “just ate waffles, yum.” I’m not sure why anyone finds that stuff fascinating. Maybe the truth is that none of us do, but that enough people feel the need to follow as many people as possible because it offers some kind of Platonic shadow of love.
Pornstars tend to be the most hilarious Twitter posters. Here are some riveting posts from one of my favorite succubus of the big screen, who shall remain nameless lest I invoke her considerable wrath against “haters”: “done with my shower,” “by the pool,” “haters hate,” “I’m thinking it’s about time for bed,” “waiting for my flight. I am tired.” And so on. I think Twitter can fix this. If you sign up and indicate your profession as “pornstar” you should only be allowed to tweet pics.
One micro-blogger has turned insipid tweets into an art form. His handle is “@insipid” and he deliberately posts some of the most banal and dull posts he can dream up. Then again, maybe he’s serious.
Here’s the thing about writing. While it inevitably starts off as a selfish pursuit, it can’t stay that way. As you evolve as a writer, it must become about others. It always remains personal but if you’re not telling a story that others want to hear then you’re just journaling. Stories are for others. Journals are private. The art process is as much about the readers as it is about the writer, if not more so. People posting about the mundane markers of their day means they can’t yet see beyond their own noses.
Post something worth reading and people will inevitably come your way. Posting whatever random stupid thought pops into your mind is bad Twitiquette. Most of our thoughts, including most of mine, are just not that original or unique or noteworthy. They’re just babble. Pick the ones that count and post those. Otherwise you’re just contributing to the white noise.