Stop bashing Twitter

It was not so very long ago that the French poet Stéphane Mallarmé penned these words about uncut pages: “The uncut folding of the book still invites the kind of sacrifice that made the red edges of ancient tomes bleed; the introduction of a weapon or paper-knife, confirming appropriation.”

Well, we have survived printing, books and even uncut pages in them. We will survive Kindle, too, even if appropriation is now bloodless, no more than pressure on a button or a page-turning movement applied to a screen, the simulacra of physical gestures for a digital age.

The whole 140-character thing is, of course, a canard anyway. Worse, it is a betrayal of ignorance. The genius of Twitter is instantaneousness and compression. It is solipsistic, a form of narcissism, at the same time as being the ne plus ultra of outreach. Its essence is the link. Through links, tweets are in fact very long, so long that Twitter is a great way to waste time; in fact I hardly recall any longer how I wasted time before Twitter. It is also a great scattershot way to stumble on the unexpected or the enriching.

Repeat after me: Thou shalt not complain about social media or judge the habits of a generation you do not understand.