The Extraordinary Intimacy of Microblogging

Thoughts as they occur to you, any time. A constant portrait. A learning tool.

On Fear of Death is significant to me because I wrote it immediately after my very first experience with that terror that is so exclusive to certain mortal realizations just over a year ago. (I understand what you meant now, those who have described their own to me.)

No exaggeration, this was the process: * causation * realization * articulation Paralleling such confrontations were changes in the way I regarded my “Twitter friends” - some whom I’ve been interacting with for getting on 5 years now. In comparison with the few friends I regularly see in person, I am significantly more “close” to them. Since signing up for the service in June 2009, I have (more or less) glanced at it daily, and that sort of longstanding habit is otherwise absolutely nonexistent in my life. My private “friends” list is nearing 100 members, and I do my best to at least glance through every single word. Words that are sometimes part of a long, threaded argument, occasionally expressing approval or disproval of an alley of mainstream discourse, but often simple spasms of the mind. That term which has never quite lived up to the practice as it exists in this context - stream of consciousness - is more regularly realized today than at any other point in the history of intellect. The occupants of this list of mine share little more than above-average substance - none are dull; all are young.

One hundred young, intelligent minds are allowed to share in all manner of intentions and voices, with virtually zero consequences, at any frequency, any time of day.

One thing’s for sure: we are the most literate people who have ever lived. No young adult - regardless of their position in society - goes a day without reading a word. In my 22 years, I have witnessed illiteracy’s transformation from a major inconvenience to a fatal natural force. At least in the West, it is no longer an option.

In all this time, I have been many things on Twitter - all I could ever be, really. I’m positive I’ve been one to scoff at the notion of longform work on the subject. With pre-absorbed Tweetdeck and its one-key Tweet capacity, I literally turned the original Drywall Twitter account into noise. For a miserable while just after my graduation from high school, my main account was nothing but adolescent libertarian rants. It has been a shopping list, a todo list, a confessional, an experiment (many, in fact,) a journal, a tool of reflection, an invitation to criticism, a cry for help, a place to vent, and an outlet of frustration, but has been consistently my main source of general discourse, which is absolutely essential for my thinking process.

Of course it’s going to sound silly, but I cannot imagine how differently I would’ve developed, intellectually, if I had never participated. My world would be much smaller, even if I had traveled more. This is speculation, of course, and very difficult to explain to those elderly of the majority’s persuasion. To an absurd degree, we are reminded that our daily lives are filling…overfilling with information - with words. I still cannot accurately measure how much spills over, myself, but that’s what anthropologists are paid for.