The twits are we

Harry Drabik

Mulling language issues I wonder if twitter encourages the frivolous side of communication. In earlier day media analysis by Canadian authority (McLuhan) media was held as being either hot or cold based on how it work on the individual level. He also noted a medium can become the message. McLuhan’s ideas are more involved than needed here, but it seems worth it to consider what’s gained and lost when communication is done in twit size bites. I’d make the comparison that twitting is to communication as focusing on wave caps is to oceanography. I’ll make a guess that skimming wave crests is vastly different in purpose and result than plumbing watery deeps.  

Among things I considered when shifting focus from Shore to Range was the “nature” involved in each of these separated places. Might be fair to say I found splashy waves along the Shore less and less substantive than the world of work and Iron. My grandfather was an archetypal figure with a strong voice, love of piwa, crusty demeanor, and hands permanently dark and disfigured from decades of machine work. Those hands were rough, even ugly, but they knew how to do things. Experience and substance backed those hands. He liked having a grandson who did well at school, but he’d take my small hands and look at them and me before saying “Go get dirty.” A ten year old heard the words but didn’t yet have the basis to understand what getting dirty meant. A twittering child might think jump in a puddle. A teen mind may consider a different kind of dirt to get into. A lot of valuable meaning doesn’t lend itself to a simple punch or attention line. Some things, such as a broadened understanding, take time and like as not a certain amount of failure and tragedy.  

Changes in how we communicate impacts what’s communicated. Some topics simply don’t lend themselves to witty one-liners. There’s a place for twitter comment. It’s useful, but individual users should remember its limits and also know how to fight effectively on that form of field. A useful comeback to a twit statement is a mirror where the target passes the message right back. Remember not too long ago hearing the problem with too many Americans was not giving up their guns and bibles? Hear that jibe and you should fire back “same as some people won’t give up on their precious stereotypes.” At heart a negative statement about guns and bibles gives a bias. A personal preference/bias is fine, but it is not a form of universal truth despite how high mighty it may sound. Another view of the built-on-prejudice fabric of the statement can be seen by swapping guns and bibles for pizza and beer or football and music or yogurt and whole fools. I can tell you, gentle Reader reader, many are the times I wished for space to make an effective argument and often are the times I was glad limited space forced me to get on with it and make my point. Could be that change in how we communicate needs new ways to cope. The electronic environment forces change on us the same way a windy day makes sending messages by smoke signal an information loser.  

Which current political personage most reminds you of a Sock Monkey?  

I know the answer I’d give, but isn’t it nice to be given credit for having your own response? In media and politics we’re constantly handed the conclusions of others as if we needed to be led by the hand in order to not miss their glorious wisdom. Heavy use of loaded, steering language shows a marked lack of respect for audience abilities and too damn much respect for the speaker’s self-assumed expertise. Practiced use of prejudice and stereotype makes neither of those things a just tactic. Their use on the excuse that all communication will be biased anyway defends a lack of effort to work at balance. In case anyone’s not listening, twitting says loud that provocation gets results not found in a detailed accounting.  

Words and performing appealed to me ever since childhood when I was exposed to the culture (slower for sure) of the times. God I hope decades of experience and practice have sharpened me up, but like everyone I’m an easy target for soft soaping. (Bet you haven’t heard that in a long time; for some of you ever before.) Yow how I cringed “bad” when the “Do me a favor” report hit. In retrospect I don’t think it was those words alone set up (prejudged) as Godfather, Mafia stuff. Well, do me a favor and think again, or do me a favor and shut up, or do me a favor and clear the table. Do me a favor is a fairly common element in human interaction. It is sinister in the same way “I love you” shows ill intent to control. Almost any expression is open to literal, conjectural, implied, or contrary meaning. For the times a person says they could kill how many murders are done? Is a death wish contained in “That kills me”? Language is fluid, fun, and human until some annoying sob comes along with hammer and nails to pin it down tight as can be. Get the analogy? The rest of the comparison is that such things cannot be and will not stay fixed in place. Meaning breaks free, resurrects, and is reborn all the time. In religion we and our culture seem to understand that reasonably well, but less so in social scenes and politics New Commandments and Divine Revelations fly forth from every seeker and twittering oracle of authority.  

In my cynical youth (so not much changed except bodily) I enjoyed saying testy things for effect. And I was defective enough to see no harm in ethnic humor (pre absolutist era when any and all teasing became forbidden). I’ve reworked an old favorite to fit the current situation where people presuming to be friends cast pearls they know to be false before an audience they see as swine.