I’ll talk about “Such_Tweet_Sorrow” at some length both in the book and later here, but an important thought just occurred to me. “Such_Tweet,” performed over five weeks at random times 24/7, requiring that you follow many different Twitter accounts to get the whole effect, called for a vastly greater commitment of time and concentration than a PBS special or even an episode of “True Blood.” That is, you couldn’t just let it wash over you. So I’m compelled to ask: is the Internet really making us stupider? Or is it calling on us to exercise new skills, or old skills in a different/new way you might not recognize if you’re a pundit at the New York Times?
“But aren’t you being terribly unfair, Diamond Jim? Don’t we all know what these pundits are getting at?” Well, frankly no, possums, because they aren’t expressing themselves clearly enough, an incapacity they developed well before the Internet was a gleam in DARPA’s eye. But if I were using the words I see them use, I’d mean something like this: in the mere seventeen years since the Internet became publicly available, we’ve degenerated from a nation of Faulkner-loving aesthetes to a collection of savages who can’t express ourselves in, or understand, any message longer than 140 characters. To which the small, partial response I’m making in this post is: “Such_Tweet,” whether or not you think of it realized its aesthetic goals, clearly shows that even our feebleminded young can follow a series of short messages spread out over a long time. In fact, they are almost certainly better at it than pundits from the New York Times. But this is another issue I’m working out as I go along; expect many more posts about it, growing (I hope) subtler and better as our, harrrrumph, journey progresses.