Sunday, February 14, 2010

My Valentine to Twitter or Orwellian Sunrise?

With 113 Followers to date, I love Twitter. More accurately, I "luv" Twitter. And in those simple three letters, "L-U-V," lies one of the two reasons that I am both shocked and amazed that I do, despite previous reservations, love Twitter.
Less than a month ago, mention of the word "Twitter" conjured images of megalomaniac celebrities maniacally laughing from satin-pillow strewn golden towers as they gazed down upon zombie-like, clamouring hordes of blindly worshipping "Followers."
The term "Follower" made me nervous and wary. Brain-washing cults boast followers, totalitarian regimes boast (and torture, and make disappear, and kill by the thousands) followers.
I was suspicious and alarmed that Twitter was a wrapped-in-social-networking ploy to numb the masses to individuality. A Big Brother cleverly veiled in the harmless image of a cute tweeting bird, urging people to become friendly followers, giving the population-at-large its first, very intimate and quick-as-a-click-immediate access to celebrities, while ingraining in followers a false sense of celebrity and relative importance.
When my language & literature-loving, PhD-of-a-sister invited me to "Follow me on Twitter," I just about fell on the floor. I was deflated, defeated, disgusted. The battle to preserve individuality, the written word, our very language in this cyber world had truly been lost.
If my sister had been duped by the sneaky bird's appeal, the last bastions of civilization as we knew it would soon be falling in line, hypnotically tweeting. The situation seemed Biblical in severity, this seemingly meek bird would inherit the Earth.
My second Twitter-based fear , in fairness, existed long before Twitter. But Twitter was perpetuating it, solidifying it, even streamlining the already-streamlined word & phrase abbreviations born in cyber-chat land. LOL, OMG, LUV, UR, Thnx, BFF, and the like had long scared the heck out of me. It was all too close to George Orwell's "Newspeak" in the novel, "1984."
Newspeak is a tool of the totalitarian "Party" used to achieve thought control of the masses. Newspeak is constantly revised to remove all meaning from language. It obliterates all references to freedom, rebellion and the like. It is described as "the only language in the world whose vocabulary gets smaller every year."
Thought is a crime, engaging in "Old Speak" is a crime. It's a bleak, powerfully frightening scenario, and one that I have long suspected is being carried out against our world population discreetly, yet constantly and effectively, through cyber space.
And Twitter, with its forced method of say-what-you-have to-say in 140 words or less or we won't-let-you-say-it rule seemed to be, up until recently, the icing on the Orwellian cake.
But upon getting to know Twitter, the adage, "You can't judge a book by its cover," wins out, at least for now.
I'm a Tweeter. And in the name of camaraderie , and in an effort to keep megalomania off my list of psychological short-comings, I'm a Follower, too. I follow every one of my 113 Followers.
I have even enjoyed direct messages from several of them, and have sent direct messages to almost all of them. I've met an artist who lives on Long Island's (I'm a native) east end and who produces art based on landmarks and places I love. I've met a music-lover who posts based on her love of jazz and classical music. I've met a wife and mother who is into NASCAR and lives very near to where I reside.
The list goes on, young and not-so-young, male and female, people of widely varying interests, all coming together in a cyber community. And that was probably the most shocking revelation of all: Twitter has given me a sense of community, just as invigorating a sense of community as I've felt for real-world communities.
If Twitter is a cleverly disguised plot to intoxicate and render useless the thoughts and identities of individuals, I suppose that years from now, in hindsight, the old belief that first impressions are the correct impressions will prove to be the philosophy that I and millions of other should have adhered to.
If, eons from now, archaeologists and anthropologists are found scratching their heads, striving to understand the unearthing of vast numbers of skeletons gathered around statues of plump, tweeting birds, with no sign of a written language to be found, than I will have been wrong in my renaissance of thought that has brought me to embrace Twitter.
And big-brother fears aside, Twitter has accomplished a feat that no human has before. Twitter forces me, a dramatic writer overflowing with wordiness, to be concise and definitive. I can tell you, if my editor-mentors read that, there would be a collective gasp followed by an awe-inspired silence that would be heard round the world!
So Happy Valentine's Day to all of you Tweeters and Followers! I LUV U all! Long may U Tweet!

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