Friday, May 25, 2012


I don’t know if you do the Twitter. I assume you do – or some of you, at least – many of you. It can be fun. I can see what my favorite professional athletes say to people who aren’t me, most of whom I don’t know. Friends, probably. Business partners. Maybe. They say things like “@notgorevidal Totally… totally. See you around. #RockinDowntown” That’s some good stuff right there. And not just the part where we get to know that this guy – we’ll call him pro ball player @RealDarnellValentine (20 bucks to the first person who can tell me who the real Darnell Valentine is … which is to say who Darnell Valentine is) – believes something tweeted at him by his buddy @notgorevidal (who I’m pretty sure is, in fact, not Gore Vidal) in its totality and that they plan to see each other soon or, barring that, at least @RealDarnellValentine is the type of guy who is open to seeing this friend or acquaintance again, even if circumstances never allow that meeting to occur. @RealDarnellValentine believes in pleasantries, as many of us do. So, besides clearly laying our psychologies bare for the entire internet to see (as our tweets will get retweeted and retweeted, ad infinitum ... clearly), we are left with that spec of real invention when it comes to writing for the Twitter. It’s not the 140-character count. That tends to lead to awkward syntax and words spelled with numbers and not enough space to include all those ellipses … I love to … put into … my writing. No, the real chance for writing invention in this forum is that blurred-together phrase following what I always called the “number sign.” Ladies and Gentlemen, the hashtag. Recently, I took on a freelance job that required me writing quite a bit of copy that blah, blah, blah, blah … (fast forward) … and the company (which shall remain nameless) is obsessed with clever hashtags as part of this copy. My brain now annoyingly creates hashtags for things I see while I’m waiting for the subway, having a conversation or, recently (and most unfortunately), while sleeping. The idea of the hashtag is simple. When I tweet something about, say, a new restaurant I just ate at and I follow it with a hashtag, say, #NewRestaurantsNYC, and other people do the same thing, all the tweets and the people tweeting about those things can be found and connected and so forth (I never said I was good at explaining this stuff…). So, you have an AP (actual purpose) hashtag. Then you have FBIART (funny because it’s all run together) and I think a good FBIART is an honest-to-god literary accomplishment. They’re the epigrams of the modern world. They contextualize the tweet and rely on a flexibility and play with language to really stand out. It's the hashtag, not however many characters come before it, that can be something new, if only because of the bizarre rules that define it. Right now, two of the top trending hashtags on Twitter are #schoolmemories (snooooore … I’d have gone with #RememberMeAsIWas … ah, still not even that great) and #YouGettinPunchedIf which, while a little obvious, has its possibilities. Remember, most hashtags are as unexceptional as most things. But some, just like with some of most things, can be freakin’ exciting as hell. (clears throat) So … um … in conclusion… words can still be fun? Sure. I’ll take that as the lesson. FBIART. Excuse me...

- Robert Attenweiler

No comments:

Post a Comment