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Farewell to liberation

The Twitterophiles who have persuaded me that it is impossible to function in this century without being a cell in the global entity may find  themselves coming to regret it. The benefits of Twitter to those who wish to share their every waking moment with the rest of the world, are blindingly obvious. (Although it may be a little naive to assume that the rest of the world gives a toss.) They can do so, within wifi range, anywhere, any time, any place. Yes, even there. I am prepared to bet that as I write this, and as you read it, people are sat on toilets around the world with both thumbs firing away and their garments around their ankles.

Actually there is nothing new in such a form of time management. The great Henry Longhurst of the Sunday Times, doyen of all golf writers, always insisted that his weekly column appeared in the lower right hand quarter of the back page, so that it could be folded into a manageable size for the comfort, the convenience even, of lavatorially sedentary readers. Its word count was also designed with that circumstance in mind. Possibly Henry would have taken to the new area, but I suspect that he would not. Instead I can picture him looking down from the great golf club bar in the sky on Rory, and Poults and Ben, and Bubba, reflecting that he is rather glad to have been and gone before their time.

Yes, we are all Tweeters now it seems; even @QuintinJardine. Yet as a writer, in joining the ranks in their billions, am I not guilty of betraying the language in which I communicate? For in a world where individuals’ birth-names are being replaced already in common usage by their Twitter handles, how long can it be before the rest of our vocabulary is distorted beyond recovery, before words of more than two syllables fall out of use and eventually out of memory? It is said that Twitter offers a form  of freedom. But sure as hell, it is not said that it offers a  form of liberation, for that word is far too long to use when one is restricted to 140 characters, spaces included.

What is the future for the multisyllabic? Are we a dying breed? Are we all doomed to use fo0tballer-speak, to a life of trying to understand the generally incomprehensible musings of @rioferdy5? It may be so, but I for one will fight against it, even as I Tweet, (but never on the bog, I promise).


Categories: General
  1. Alison
    February 7, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    I am clearly very old-fashioned in that nothing will ever, ever persuade me to ‘tweet’ – and I can say that quite confidently. I can think of nothing more uninteresting than a bunch of people telling us about their breakfast in 140 words (or characters or whatever it is). But unfortunately it is the way the world is going – people seem to need this constant background chatter. You only have to look at your fellow pedestrians – when I walk to work I seem to be surrounded by people with permanent stoops, when in fact of course they’re simply checking their phones constantly. I honestly think it’s a really sad state of affairs when it becomes necessary to have a Twitter account – and as somebody who deals with the public regularly, that’s certainly you, QJ. But forgive me for not ‘following’ you. I shall remain one of what you quite correctly I suspect, call a dying breed. Even my text messages all have correct punctuation and spelling. Makes for hellishly long messages, but I won’t change!

  2. February 7, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    Lovely. I confess to being spooked still by people seemingly talking to themselves in the street. Must be at least twelve years ago since Eileen and I were having a coffee in an unusually quiet Stansted departures when we were forced to listen to a guy four or five tables away, talking in an excessively loud voice on a head-set about beng involved in the marketing of the Harry Potter movies, even though the first had yet to be made. More recently I heard a guy on the North Berwick – Edinburgh train talking to a colleague, and being struck by the deprecatory terms he used about his clients. Yes, you may think they’re Muppets, but it’s foolish to say so loudly amongst strangers, just in case someone overhears you and blogs about it. It’s also ungracious, because they are after all, people you’ve talked into paying your wages.

  3. Alison
    February 7, 2013 at 4:17 pm

    Absolutely. Never forget that if you’re mouthing off in a public place, somebody may well ovehear, and that can never be a good thing.

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