Sunday, 12 May 2013
“I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”
― Mark Twain
Always start with a quote, they say. Though I'm not entirely sure who 'they' are.
Builders certainly. Although their quotes invariably start with a sharp intake of breath, a scratch of the head, and then an allusion to some sort of complication that will make even the most routine of tasks carry a price tag that edges some way towards the entire sum of Third World debt: "The thing is, mate, your flat is built on an ancient Celt burial ground, which adds another 15%".
But I digress.
I decided, after just under two and a half years on Twitter, that I should have a go at writing something a little longer than the seemingly arbitrary 140 characters allowed on my preferred social network. Interestingly (a word employed in this instance to add some figurative glitter to a literary turd), Twitter is often described as a 'microblogging site'. It's a term that I've always struggled with - whilst I know not technically accurate, I've always associated the word 'blog' with personal tales or experiences - a digital diary of sorts. Of course, there are many who use Twitter in this way, but in my experience they are almost without exception the dreariest of accounts.
To be honest, unless you're James Bond or Zooey Deschanel's loofah, I'm unlikely to be interested in your every movement: "Meeting with M - got to save the world from a supervillain AGAIN. LOL" (Bond), "Vigorous scrubbing today - mainly the boob area" (Loofah), "Only met her once, and now we're showering together!" (Both). Bond certainly wouldn't post Instagram pictures of his Martini.
I very rarely tell the truth on Twitter. If everything I wrote were accurate, the last 29 months would have been rather eventful - I'd have married (at least twice), started several businesses, invented time travel, had myriad children, written a number of books, and carried out multiple assassinations. I haven't done any of those things. But I think that's part of the charm - each tweet can be completely discrete from any of its predecessors. It allows us to create characters and events that don't even nearly mirror our real lives; The closest I've come to a contract killing was being paid 50p to eat a spider at primary school.
But the character limit forces us to be concise. I'm regularly amazed by how Tweeters are able to distil complex stories, witticisms, and philosophical meanderings into the allotted space. It's a challenge I enjoy. The trouble with anything longer, is that you have to work out a clear beginning, middle, and end, and more importantly choose a subject that is interesting enough to keep readers interested for more than the 6 seconds it takes to read a tweet. Which is why I've failed spectacularly here. Next time, I'll make sure I have something more riveting to discuss.
However, if this experience has taught me one thing it's this: Mark Twain was a lying bastard.
I'm off to set up a 'Zooey Deschanel's Loofah' Twitter account.