So. On 23 May 2011, I discovered Twitter. Well…not ‘discovered’ so much as ‘actually began using and enjoying’.
Right now you are either thinking ‘I can barely handle Facebook, get thee behind me’ or ‘sad Gen X dinosaur, you only beat Jerry Seinfeld by a few weeks, and by Christmas it will be just you and him tweeting at each other because everyone else will have shifted over to Google+’
Bear with me please, both groups. I promise there will be funny jokes further down.
So why am I bothering to write this down and share it on the interwebs, more than five years after the Twitter site first launched? Because I am blown away by the fact that the Twitterverse is much much better than I thought it would be, and I want to take a moment to record that fact before it goes the way of Usenet and Commodore 64s. Like many non-Tweeps, I had thought it was just for pre-teens who wanted to know what Justin Bieber picked out of his nose yesterday. Instead, I have found:
- In two months I have made dozens of new contacts in my fields of interest (poetry, autism, books, literature, social comment and people who write funny stuff). Many of these people live overseas and I have never met any of them (or their friends), so this is networking and sharing I could not do very efficiently on Facebook, and could do even less efficiently on the wider internet via laborious time consuming searches. Twitter is searchable by conversation topic so it is easy to find and ‘follow’ people talking about things you are interested in.
- Suddenly I feel like I am ahead of the news, rather than hopelessly behind it like most parents of young children. I was all over John Birmingham v Bob Ellis, Geoff Lemon v the Carbon Tax Whingers, Noni Hazelhurst and GTF to Sleep v YouTube, and The Bloggess’ Giant Metal Chicken well before the ‘mainstream’ media. ‘Slipstream’ media, more like it.
- Limiting posts to 140 characters is *great* discipline for a writer.
It has even started to influence my poetry. There are already a gazillion Twitter poets (see this New York Times article from March of this year) so I do not pretend to any great originality there. But it is new for me, and it is fun squeezing things down into such a tight space. I find it makes for very very spare and (occasionally) hard hitting micropoetry. Also I like how the #hashtag (a way of manually tagging the topic of the tweet so other Twitter users can find and join the conversation) adds another dimension, working like a commentary or postscript (or preamble or title) to the actual poem.
To illustrate, I’m going to finish with the complete Tworks of @MelindaLSmith, micropoet. Enjoy, comment below, and if you are also a Tweep then come follow me. I promise to follow you back
Twitter Poems by @MelindaLSmith
my boy perches on the pool’s edge/flapping his wet hands/people are staring/he sees only me, and grins:/’I caught an imaginary trout’ #ASD
#micropoetry #ASDparenting #firsteverjointsleepover Both sons away tonight/after 7 years/I don’t recognise this quiet/or this calm
@Twaiku_Poetry: If she says she doesn’t like poetry, run #micropoetry #advice #lifelessons
.@Twaiku_Poetry: if she says she *is* a poet, run faster #micropoetry #lifelessons #youaintnoboyfriendsuckayoumaterialnow
#divorcepoem they say this too shall pass/ – passing is no good to me / I just want him back like he was / before he betrayed us
your electricity / prickles and hums / I ache to close the circuit / but I dare not / flip the switch #micropoetry
#aubadeyourselfbastard you don’t tell me this is goodbye/but I hear it in the stutter, the buzz/of your zip closing #micropoetry
Moving house poems
#realestatepoem He said, ‘We’ll uplift your home/onto the internet’/- but then/ this hole in the ground/will look nothing like the pictures
#realestatepoem2 seven years / of divots and small fingerprints / this fresh paint / claims they never happened
What can 140 characters hold? News of near misses, small wars, large arguments; the singing of bullets, the murmur of hearts? Such birdsong!
bottle of red / half empty / – or hangover / half full ? #micropoetry #koanp1sstake #toooldtodrinklikethisanymore
#inthenightkitchen #micropoetry the fridge makes small sighs/testing the silence/the central heating rumbles and sings/you are not alone