Archive | 2:41 am

Desperate Birds…

20 Feb

Thursday was the first morning I heard the birds sing at dawn.  I had just begun my morning, seated at the heating vent, coffee, and a book of poetry in hand, when I heard them.   It wasn’t quite light, so I wasn’t sure what birds they were.

But there they were. One proclaims that he is the top bird in this yard.  No other males need apply.  One might be alerting her friends:  “cat, cat, cat.”  Another announces his virtues as a mate.   One, perhaps a robin desperately repeats, “oh baby, see me, see me.”  Another pounds out the same refrain.   Each must hope that the songs, so similar to me, are heard differently by unseen females.  Will only one succeed in finding a mate?  “Oh please, see me, see me”  Oh please, see me, see me!”

Just then the cell phone on the table buzzes to announce the first twitter message of the day, followed in quick succession by several more.  Now interrupted and looking them, I think how similar they are to the bird’s tweets.  “Oh please, see me, see me, oh please, see me, see me.”

So my day begins thinking about Twitter.  I do sometimes get useful snippets of information from it, usually retweeted links.  And I recognize that Twitter can be an early warning system (cat, cat).  But more often Twitter is just a distraction, as it is this morning.   Twitter reduces communication to its most elemental signaling function.  Somewhat-famous-writer tweets that he’s arrived in Barcelona.  A colleague reminds us (again) that his book is doing well.  Another tweets a link to a cartoon she liked.  The content isn’t really the message.  “See me, see me:” that’s the message.  My ambivalence for Twitter is not so much the result of wishing for more out of 140 characters per message.  Short messages can be profound (check out http://shortquotes.org/).  It’s partly that there are so many.  It’s the belief that one must say something, anything, and soon.  It doesn’t matter what it is.  There’s the implicit twinge of desperation about Twitter.

Beyond that is the fact that Twitter traps its power users in soul-sucking irony.   Like birds in a crowded yard, they must all tweet louder and louder and more and more often to be heard.  At some point it all becomes noise and no one is heard.  I can’t help but wonder if the time they spend on sending the second ten messages might not be better spent on, well, a message that someone wants to hear.