I've been thinking about twitter since Mary Wilkinson's comment on yesterday's blog. I didn't quite get it at first, either. And I even felt a little embarrassed about tweeting (everyone does, or at least pretends to: watch Anderson Cooper and other TV media folk scratch their heads and say "twitter"? "tweets"? like they aren't really sure what it's all about. Then during the commercial break, they tweet away). One common criticism: What can you really say in 140 characters? Thinking about that is kind of a good exercise as I discovered when I decided to tweet something for Mother's Day.
140 characters, it turns out, are more than enough. I'm not a big fan of the Day for all kinds of reasons. Hallmark cards and strange one-day acts of devotion being among them. My own mother was very low key about mother's day, which I appreciated as a child, and I appreciate it now. I've kept that tradition with my children as well.
But people were tweeting about the day, and I decided to join in (there's a reason it's called social media). It seemed like a good time to think about my 75-year-old mother who is in Yosemite for a week. Once I began thinking about her, the 140 character limit helped me crystallize a couple of things.
Here's my tweet. Things my mother taught me: how to look for arrowheads and pottery (any desert anywhere); how to scan the skies for UFOs (any sky anywhere).
That's exactly 140 characters (including spacing). Being a writer, I couldn't look at that statement without wanting to think about it some more. With my mother, I was looking up at the sky and down at the earth. I wasn't conscious of that when I wrote it. The tweet represents something very concrete and factual about my childhood.
What I'm pondering now is all that space in between. What was happening there? It just begs for an essay or maybe a short story. So today's tweeting actually served as a bit of brainstorming for something to write. I think I'll go do that now.