I hate to say it, but it really does seem as though Twitter is a blog-killer. Case in point: Me. While it would certainly be a stretch (well, okay, a lie) to say that I was an active blogger, it's also true that I've been blogging far less since reluctantly jumping on that 140-character bandwagon.
I say "reluctantly" because it's true: I had to have a few folks clamoring at me before I buckled and did it. And my earliest tweets expressed that annoyance and bewilderment with this new trendoid communication tool. To use another fave of the moment: Really? This is how we're gonna talk now? It's seemed both pointless and self-indulgent to me, and if you want to argue that I was right, I'm not going to argue back. Twitter abuse is rampant: Tweeting when you really have absolutely nothing to say, or when you say something that has no context for anyone at all, like: "Huh." This doesn't mean that every tweet needs to be a 140-character mini-masterpiece, but it would help if you at least had some kind of point, however small. Not to put pressure on you, but realize that you are "publishing" your thoughts. Don't clutter up our feeds with "LOL." I'm happy, I guess, that you are laughing out loud about something, but if you're not going to let me in on the joke, too, well, then shut up about it. I end up un-following more people than I follow for this very reason. I don't demand that you entertain me, but if you're just sharing you're just blabbering away all day on Twitter as if you are talking to yourself, well, you can go ahead and do that without me, just to make it official.
Anyway, that's not really my point here. Sorry. My point is more this: That in my brain, I am always walking around, as writers are often wont to do, filtering everything I am seeing and hearing and feeling into something I can write about later. I'm always mentally filing things away. If someone says something stupid--like the co-worker who complained in Cologne a few weeks ago, in utter seriousness, that she was annoyed that the German restaurants all had their menus in German--I immediately flag that as something for future use.
The problem is that Twitter is now a fast, easy, low-maintenance, utterly accessible avenue for these moments that get caught in the net. I no longer have to stockpile them in my brain and then get the time and energy to write a whole blog post around them. Now, in seconds, right on my iPhone, I can blurt it out to you, instantaneously, without having to worry about form or context or writing many, many words. Actually, that's a bit of an oversimplification. Cramming something into 140-characters can be a bit of a challenge, and that's the part of Twitter that I like. It's an interesting exercise, trying to be funny in that little space. And some people (and I'm not including myself) are great at it. The best Twitter feeds, for me, are the ones that take a specific, funny angle, and stick to it, like the now justly famous @shitmydadsays.
But when I step back from it, like I am today, and look at what it's doing to me, it bums me out a little. I like that I can freely tweet throughout the day and hopefully provide a laugh or two, or a recommendation of some sort, or whatever the heck it is I do. But I don't like that it sort of saps my bandwidth, as well as material, that could be better put to use in actual longer-than-one-sentence writing. I'm not gonna get all Luddite about it, and decry it as The End of Everything. But it is an easy way out, and the lure of it, for someone predisposed to be lazy and easily distracted, like me, makes it a bit of a danger.
This entire post came into being, by the way, because I have been binging on Batman: Arkham Asylum the past couple days, and have fallen in love with it. As I kept getting further into this first-rate, thoroughly entertaining action game, starts strong and then gets better, part of me kept thinking, "I'm gonna stop playing for a minute and tweet about this." Actually it was more specific than that. What I wanted to tweet was: "Batman: Arkham Asylum may be the best single-player gaming experience I've had since Half-Life." And in thinking about tweeting that, I realized that that fundamental change had occurred in my brain: I was mentally noting things that I wanted to tweet rather than blog.
Previously, I would have been mentally writing an entire blog post about Batman: Arkham Asylum, in which I would try to justify and backup that statement. Tell you why Arkham Asylum is so great. Because all of those thoughts are in my head, too. But Twitter just lets me send it out there. I don't have to justify shit. And maybe, in some respects, that's cool, too. I get to make a bold statement. You can agree or disagree. If I were still a journalist, and not working at EA, Warner Bros/Eidos could even put that tweet right on the box.
But that's not what I got in this for. That's not what my brain and fingers have worked all these years at doing. It's easy and fun and accessible, but it's no substitute, or solution, for depth. That's not to say that I'm quitting Twitter. Ferget it. I'm still hooked on it. I'm just saying that this was a particular moment of clarity for me, and one that was going to take me way more than 140 characters to explain. So, see, I was forced to blog.
But, oh, while I'm here, I should probably say: Batman:Arkham Asylum may be the best-single player experience I've had since Half-Life. Maybe I'll blog about it sometime!