Twittering our way to national literary rehabilitation


I know, I know, the verb is “tweeting.” But I just got on board this month, so cut me a break. It was April 28, 2013, that I even acquired my first cell phone, unless you count the 7-Eleven special purchased for a Michigan trip and promptly lost.

Necessity is the mother of upgrades, and I set up a Twitter account purely for a scoop on the verdict in the Kermit Gosnell trial. Immediately the brevity of the insider I was following favorably impressed me. Hey, ’60s children, remember the theme song from the TV show with that famous talking horse: “People yakety-yak a streak and waste your time of day, but Mister Ed will never speak unless he has something to say.” It was like that. My “Deep Throat” tweeted laconic updates (I think “laconic” is way too long a word for what it means) that were purely functional and respectful of my busy life.

I am excited about the potential of Twitter for good in this world. I don’t mean social good or the fomenting of revolution. I mean national literary rehabilitation. The external imposition of the 140-character limit forces us to know what we want to say before we say it—so as to be more like Mister Ed. They say you only really know what you’re talking about if you can explain it to a 5-year-old. My impression is that Twitter makes 5-year-olds of us all, in a good way. No more tedious sentences starting with a string of dependent clauses and top-heavy with adverbs—just clean and lean communication.

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Moreover (I would never use “moreover” in a tweet), think of the human character benefits of tweeting. Gone is the pressure to be eloquent and polished (and to use the two adjectives “eloquent” and “polished” when one would suffice). No one expects it of you. They know you are up against that darned 140-character wall, so you are off the hook and have a great excuse. Paul the apostle swore off eloquence (1 Corinthians 1-3) and recommended it to all of us who are interested in promoting the gospel. The danger of theology is always of losing the main point in the verbiage.

So let us eschew the tendencies of Edward Everett (13,607-word, two-hour Gettysburg Address) and aspire to be like Abraham Lincoln (270-word, two-minute Gettysburg Address). I’ll bet Lincoln would have been a heck of a twitterer. Or tweeter.

Andrée Seu Peterson
Andrée Seu Peterson

Andrée is the author of three books: Won't Let You Go Unless You Bless Me, Normal Kingdom Business, and We Shall Have Spring Again.


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