A grumpy old man reflects on a Twitterized world (or “how to avoid finishing that column”).

I was writing a portion of my “Hot Trub” column for American Brewer this morning about the value of Twitter as a business tool and searching on the intertubes for some statistics when I came across the sorta mind-boggling news that this guy is posting the story of how he was fired from the staff of the New Yorker back in 2007 in a series of 140-word Tweets, some 60 or more already posted.

So what we have here is a narrative that you read backwards in a series of short posts which are as likely as not to break in mid-sentence or even mid-word, depending on how punctilious he is about it all.


God only knows.

But I am not surprised.

While I personally enjoy the challenge of make a point or expressing an opinion in 140 characters, I do feel a twinge of discomfort when I do because of some of the circumlocutions and shortcuts (bad abbreviations) that sometimes requires. And my new telephone will likely lead me down the pitfall laden path to texting (as I just tweeted), wherein all those bad habits will be further imprinted on my brain.

In an age where fewer and fewer read, and even less seem to comprehend, where it is commonplace to hear people say they will not return voice messages on their phones but will engage only in text exchanges, where words have less and less meaning (the wingnuts are in the process of making “empathy” an epithet), where context and subtext are either absent or routinely ignored, technology is playing perhaps its final trick, reducing communication to such basic levels that communication is not really achieved.

The so-called Global Village that the internet was supposed to create never really happened; quite the opposite, it instead made possible a plethora of smaller virtual communities in which people could band together with people who think and believe exactly as they do and thus made the distances between us greater and less bridgeable than ever before. Now text messaging and the likes of Twitter are coming around full circle, making it easy to contact anybody and everybody while reducing the words we use to little more than the guttural grunts our most distant ancestors once employed. In the great, interconnect world, we are each more isolated than ever.

Hey, it all works. Twitter, Facebook et al are wonderful for getting basic information out to a bazillion people with little effort and now cost (think daily tap lists, new beer releases, that sort of thing) and they are great for building up a brand, be it beer or a website (I talked earlier about how traffic here grew once I started using those two services). Texting apparently is almost addictive and you see so many people doing so in the middle of meals, conversations or other social gatherings that you begin to realize how many of us are often not really Here.

Rob Davis and I made this point graphically back in March.


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