“Twitter is unspeakably irritating. Twitter stands for everything I oppose…it’s hard to cite facts or create an argument in 140 characters.”
With those words, Jonathan Franzen set off a small internet firestorm.
He said them in in New Orleans, where author Jami Attenberg wrote them down, and then put them on her blog, saying she was “sort of infuriated.” Her post was quoted, and retweeted, gaining wider and wider circulation, annoying more and more readers, or maybe just making them curious, until it all culminated, as it seems all small internet firestorms must these days, in an essay by Roxane Gay.
Roxane made a good point — that everyone should just relax and let Franzen be Franzen — but I thought it was interesting that the gist of what Franzen said, quoted above, came in at just under 140 characters — 137, to be exact.
It would have made the perfect tweet. It was concise and provocative. Presented in the form of a tweet, it would have had a nice irony to it — a criticism of a form as the perfect expression of that form. Who says modernism is dead!
My response to Jonathan Franzen’s criticism of twitter is that maybe he should try it. He might be better at it, and have more to say, than he realizes.