|Nokia 3210. My First True Love. I'm OK, it's just a bit... dusty in here, is all!|
There was once a very brief but glorious period of time in the history of humankind. I like to call it the 'Golden Age of Human Interaction'. It was perhaps a circumstance of my age, my social circle, and my locale. But the best we ever had it, was when text messages were limited to 160 characters. Do you remember that?
I refer to my age, and location, because I was earning way too little money to actually waste time with dialogue, and pay-as-you-go credit was by far the cheapest way to afford to use a phone in 00's Ireland. So we – my friends and I – were limited to having exchanges of verbal communication using 160 characters or less. "Coming out tonight?", "Can't. Sorry.", "Why not?", "Exam in the morning.", "Cool. What about the weekend?", "Sounds good." That was it: Conversation over. Back to dial-up internet porn before the page had even loaded her boobs.
Of course, like Icarus and his obscenely strong arms, ever reaching toward the sun with those waxy wings that somehow melted in cooler air, we didn't realize how good we had it. There were those conversations (usually with girlfriends) when you needed to squeeze those extra digits into 160 measly little spots. Some among us, like the little Orwellian prophecies that we were, figured ways around this: we used numbers as words, and letters became syllables. Ever straining at the leash of technological boundary we began to revert back to a primal state. Utterances such as "Cn u cum out l8r", became commonplace. Something had to be done. And eventually, phone companies caved, and allowed long, gaudy paragraphs of deep, tortuous insight, and fumbling explanations that trailed on and on about why "It was a joke. Everybody knows sarcasm doesn't come across on texts. I didn't really mean you're a fucking loser." to come in to being. We had eaten the forbidden fruit, and were banished from our Eden of brief, concise and above all only-when-fucking-necessary communication.
It's maybe why I like Twitter so much. I'm not particularly active on Twitter, but that's simply because I've no fucking friends (I probably lost them all when texts got longer, and they discovered I was a jerk). And because my kids aren't old enough to embarrass yet. But I love how the focus is strictly on getting the information across, and not the means of doing it. If you want to get into get into a debate about sports with @bobsadick, then you better damn well have your facts at hand. It's the one true pulpit of social media with which to get your words out. Sure, you can scream and shout about religion, and post shitty pictures of your dinner, just as you can on hovels such as Facebook and the thankfully dead and buried MySpace. But it's all garbage there; nothing else. At least on twitter, there's a chance, an outside shot you can discuss with a respected journalist, or scientist, or -- fuck it -- celebrity something you give a shit about.
And then, of course, it's the greatest filter of intellectual vapidity known to man. As my super-awesomeblogger buddy proves, when you're truly thick as shit, you can't hide behind waffle and bullshit to deflect from the true absence of character or ethos within you (I'm looking in your direction, Kim K). When you truly have nothing to say, say it on twitter, and give us all a good ol' knee-slapping chuckle. It's the least you can do for suffocating us with your bullshit lives on every magazine stand and TV station.