I’ve been thinking about this damn essay for about a year, but I haven’t written it because Twitter is so much easier than writing, and I have been enormously tempted to just tweet it, so instead of not writing anything, I’m just going to write about what I would have written if Twitter didn’t destroy my desire to write by making things so easy to share. I’ll give you a minute to let that sentence soak in. Also, I’m not going to re-read any of this, or copyedit it. It’s raw.
Twitter takes complex ideas and destroys them by forcing my brain to compact them into little 140-character aphorisms, truisms, or jokes. For every great tweet, there could have been four insightful paragraphs, but there aren’t, and never will be, because Twitter removes my desire to write by killing my ideas. Once I tweet something, I stop thinking about it; it’s like an emotional release of idea liability. If I wrote this essay, I would have written about how Twitter does that.
But most tweets aren’t great. Most great ideas that are compressed into little 140-character snippets end up not being so great. They are stunted, shitty versions of the real thing–that is, a complete, well-written essay–and yet, for some reason I consider them acceptable. Because, obviously, a great idea can’t be communicated perfectly because I only have 140-characters to work with. It’s like, imagine Picasso with an iPad. Sure, he’d draw lots of crap, but seriously, who wants a digital Picasso that was “painted” onto a tiny little screen? Imagine all of the paintings he would not have painted because he was busy touching a tiny little piece of glass that interpreted his touches and approximated what he intended to put on a much larger, more beautiful canvas.
I would have written about that, probably, if I had written this essay.
But here’s the worst thing about Twitter, and the thing that may have permanently destroyed my mind: I find myself walking down the street, and every fucking thing I think about, I also think, “How could I fit that into a tweet that lots of people would favorite or retweet?” It’s disgusting, and I feel like a meth addict, with constant, obsessive urges to fit every goddamned idea into a tweet. To share. With you. Without any real filter, which is what the writing process is.
The writing process takes unfiltered liquid ideas that are cloudy and filled with grime and it converts them into beautiful clean thoughts that other people can easily understand. If you spend enough time writing something, perfecting it, filtering it, cleaning it, you not only produce a great piece of writing and a great communication, but you improve your mind by giving yourself the ability to think things through more completely. Twitter makes me dumber, because I don’t think about things more deeply than 140-characters. If I wrote this essay, I maybe would have written about that.
And yet I see no solution to this problem. I will forever be a slave to 140-characters, to this thing that instantly takes complex ideas out of my brain, over-simplifies them, and ships them off to random people whom I have never met.
I can’t wait to buy Twitter stock.
That’s what I would have written.
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