By Loay Leon Hady
I used to be at the forefront of technology. By this I mean I read a magazine on a mobile phone every few weeks, but in a world where everyone I knew was ‘whatever-ing’ upcoming trends, or making things up that had no chance of trending, I liked to think of myself as a voice of reason and knowledge in the pre-tweet world.
Unfortunately though, Twitter has had me reaching for my piece of stone with which to etch a picture of gazelle on my cave wall. I’ve been using it for three days and I still have no idea what the ‘hashtag’, ‘at’ or ‘reply’ commands are likely to lead to: will I be posting / replying to one person, a trend, or am I just spouting my mouth out to nowhere? (I’m good at that though, so no worries there.) Moreover it moves so fast, it gives me an idea of what a commuter train in Tokyo during rush hour at Christmas might be like (cultural insensitivity noted).
I do like it though. Everyone is trying to deliver one liners at a rate so incalculable that the last ‘1 sec’ of postings can be as long as a newspaper article, or in the case of a popular item, a H.G. Wells novel, and be just as varied, imaginative and downright humorous.
In short: so far so good. It’s been a while since something changed everything (or changed it, ‘again’) ignoring of course, Apple, Facebook, Linked-In etc, but if these are all on a level playing field, Twitter gets the panache award for its seamless alliteration opportunities: Twitter-tweets, Twitter-trends, Twitter-twats and more recently, with the super injunction business ruffling a few blue feathers, we welcome the age of ‘Twitter-truths’.
It’s all oh so easy on the ear, and its usage demonstrated against governments in the Middle East and celebrities looking to keep their dirty laundry safely stashed could mean we’re seeing more than just another passing social networking fad – after the heat it poured on illegitimate governments and the way it made temperatures rise in the House of Commons after the Ryan Giggs incident, we could well be witnessing in Twitter a communication version of fire 2.0, so great is the way it has already changed things.
All that remains to be seen then is what kind of cage this little blue bird will put around itself, or more importantly, what cage governments will thrust upon it. Perhaps it’d do well to jump before pushed, lest it learn the same lessons that befell the other metaphoric ‘bird’: Icarus.
Right or wrong as any of that may seem, the communicative landscape has changed and there is far more content in this pixelated creature’s birdsong.
Loay Leon Hady is an Advanced Skills Teacher of English and a Head of Department for Psychology. He has an M.A in English and is currently completing an M.Ed in Education. His most recent project is a rendition of the Quran into an English poem.
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