Flicking through one of my twitter accounts the other day – it was actually the middle of the night BST – I came across an American tweet reading: “There soars a red-tailed hawk. An evening to savor… Oh take me with you.”
It’s the kind of line I’d have once expected to read in, say, a book of poetry; or maybe hear down The Old Vic, a Shakespearean lament – indeed, if he’d added ‘think not that I should labor’ on the end he’d have scribed himself a perfect Alexandrine:
“There soars a red-tailed hawk. An evening to savour…
Oh take me with you; think not that I should labour.”
I’m a poet and I know it (British-English version; notice the spellings…)
It has an early 20th century feel to it, too: the solemn soldier; the insanity of trench-warfare. It’s the kind of romantic sentiment with which I’m – normally – instantly at one; Free me of this rat-race! The kind of line my old dad would have uttered more than once – nay written! As part of an epic:
“Why don’t you get it published, Dad?”
“Oh, no-one would listen!”
Much was my pleading, and many were his scoffs.
But no, this time I wasn’t instantly at one, despite its air of spontaneity. After all, that’s what twitter’s about, isn’t it? About the ‘now’; for the upwardly mobile; being on the ball – Read this if you godda minute! And if you like it you might wanna read my book, it’s erotic – Not porn, but erotic; all words, no pics. Aunt Verity’s written four already!
And there was my angst: because it was a tweet, the last thing I could do was associate myself with it – I all but ‘unfollowed’ the sender. Or rather the tweeter.
In effect, my instant reaction went something like this: ‘“Take me with you”?? Oh, puh-lease! As long as you can keep your phone, you mean, and keep tweeting us about it, telling us what it’s like to fly with a bird. And hawks don’t tweet, they’re birds of prey, you geek – Nor do real poets!’
I’m still ‘following’ him, by the way.
My angst lies with the fact that said tweeter immediately felt a need to ‘tell the world’ of his sighting… a world that really doesn’t care, however much he’d like to believe the contrary.
The question might be, then: have we come to terms with the concept of social networking yet? Truly come to terms with it, I mean. Or am I just a little too old to ever truly come to terms with it?
Surely our tweeter’s potential pleasure was overridden by an apparent need to share with us what is unconditionally ‘un-sharable’: a there-and-now experience only his lucky eyes could behold, for being in that given space at that given moment.
That poetic moment.
Another tweeter, on my original account’s ‘following’ list, went one further than my would-be bird-watcher. He was offered – for the first time in his life, I might add – the opportunity of a bird’s-eye view of his native Shropshire, here in England, by a longstanding friend who’d just obtained a licence to fly and so borrowed a biplane for an hour.
You know what I’m going to say next, but I’ll say it anyway: my followee not only tweeted photos taken in flight, but tweeted them in flight, during that first time ever: he’d make that future-past experience live forever for me, too, and his other precious followers; he’d take us with him, as it were.
In the truly altruistic spirit of twitter, he put us first…
I should point out that I’m not the best air passenger at the best of times. But even so, the pics hardly gave me butterflies…That poetic moment…
I often wonder how the Pharaohs managed to put those pyramid things together without pockets to frequently slip hands into, or rather without handys – as the Germans call them – to pull out and a blue bird to hit upon…
They say the need is created, of course. And what, then, are we, lemmings?
That poetic moment wasted for a compulsion, perhaps. Social media. There lies a rocky road at the end of which lies a fine line. Perhaps…
The fact of the matter for me, however, as you may have noticed in my opening paragraph, is that I don’t own one twitter account only, like most of you, but three – three! Why three? Because at some point I decided to embrace it wholly – the whole social networking thing – by creating each one for different areas of my work – and personality. And, quite honestly, I find its power extraordinary. And I’d be a fool to miss out on it, being where I am in my life right now.
For although twitter cannot, and never will be able to fly me alongside red-tailed hawks, or take me on any kind of poetic flight, and for all the context-free poetry quotations I’ll find myself wading through, I’m sure there’ll always be that odd ping on my phone informing me of someone kind enough to urge others to visit my website, or to consider purchasing my novel, or to read one of my blog posts… a someone living in a place I never knew existed; a someone who, let’s face it, would have been too far out of reach without the power of twitter…
Maybe I’ll always cringe when I see four students sitting at the same table of a campus canteen, each of them twiddling noodles with a fork in one hand and flicking through the ‘pages’ of a smartphone with the other – social or antisocial?
But again, the truth of the matter is that I’m sure I’ll find myself doing the same at some point, around people with whom I feel relaxed enough to do so. Maybe I just need to get more used to the idea, while we all need to adapt ourselves to the idea of self-management. Maybe the hang-up, then, is mine, and that of older people just like me: it’s possibly a generational thing. And general hang-ups about social media will die with that generation.
I do hope it all works out for the better.
Your literary, soulful friend