Sunday, June 23, 2013

For Sale: Baby Shoes, Never Worn

The title of this blog post is the entirety of a 'six word novel' usually attributed, and almost certainly misattributed, to Ernest Hemingway. It's a masterpiece of flash fiction. There are many other attempts at the form, some successful, others less so. I find such exercises interesting as a creative challenge, but even the best of them is nowhere near as fulfilling to me as an actual novel or even a short story.

My desire for explanation, for substance, is a real and pressing handicap, it seems.

It started with Twitter. I will never understand Twitter. I have a Twitter account that I almost never use. I check in on the feed every now and again, mostly to keep track of an e-friend who has largely abandoned his blog for the Twitterverse. The 140 character hard limit on tweets means that his more complicated thoughts take four or five tweets to get out, and my Twitter client posts in chronological order forcing me to read "up" the screen, something I find much more annoying than I should. As far as actually tweeting things myself...why? I have a Facebook timeline that serves exactly the same purpose, with a couple of advantages beyond being able to write a complete sentence. I can post pictures and video to Facebook that other people can copy and paste; and if I post a link, I don't have to go to the added step of running it through a link shortener. or whatever it is you call sites like tinyurl. And call me juvenile, but I like "liking" things. On Twitter, there's no way to tell somebody you liked their tweet without actually telling them you liked their tweet.

The latest social media frenzy seems to be something called Vine. It was obviously created for people who thought Twitter was too wordy and time-consuming. It's flash fiction for a digital age: instead of six words, you get six seconds of video. Six seconds, that's it. That's what we've (d)evolved to: six seconds fine, seven seconds BORING!

There are lots of things that can be communicated in six seconds. This clip (NSFW) is without a doubt the funniest I've ever run across.

Good for a laugh (or well, let's be honest, I can watch that on a loop and laugh every time),  but eventually you find yourself asking where's the beef? (Yeah, I know, he tucked it between his legs, ha-ha.)

I just don't understand why people's collective attention span seems to be shortening by the month. There's so much political crap going on nowadays, pretty much all of which demands considerably more than six seconds of video or 140 characters to even summarize, and you can bet the people behind the curtain are getting away with their larcenies and obscenities knowing damn well the rest of the populace can't be bothered to pay attention.

The other issue I have with both Vine and the culture I find myself trying to navigate is that it's mobile only. You can't access Vine on a desktop, not directly, at least. We all know that people are wedded to their goddamn smartphones: they won't even put their toys away while they're driving. But what utterly flabbergasts me is that mobile phones are used at home over things like desktop computers and, not to put too fine a point on it, televisions. Because evidently we don't like actual keyboards, and the 27" monitors and 50+" televisions we have just don't compare to that little three inch screen. When insanity grips so many people, I can't help wondering if I've gone nuts....


Anonymous said...

I get a bit of what you're saying. I used to hold that opinion too. But what I like about Twitter is the conversations it starts. Something Blogs/comments don't offer.

And I hope you note that that my blog output has increased in the last little while. I've wanted to blog more, but it requires more time and focus than my family and career have allowed. ;) There's benefits to both forums, for me in particular. I'm just glad you haven't given up blogging! I still read all your posts, even if I can't form a meaningful comment.

Ken Breadner said...

Catelli, I'm glad you read my scribbles, and I'm even more glad you scribble yourself. Your posts are always interesting, even when I haven't got the slightest clue what you're talking about. I guess I get what you're saying about Twitter, but that conversation aspect is also integral to a Facebook timeline (what used to be a "wall")...and so redundant for me.