Twittering Twits

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In a condition of tremulous excitement

I don’t do Twitter or Facebook, nor something called Instagram. My son does Facebook but says I must not. One reason my family stay fond of me in my dotage is because I do as I am told. (At least about technology!) I must remember to ask him sometime why the embargo.

A ban on Twitter doesn’t arise because I have always thought it was a waste of time. Since the Nice massacre, followed by the Turkish coup I have come to the conclusion that it is much worse than that. Not just a waste of time but often utterly inappropriate and quite possibly an indication of the terrible vacuum at the heart of our society. A frightening symbol of the way we are.

“Twitter”. To utter a succession of small, tremulous notes like a bird. To talk lightly and rapidly, especially of trivial matters; chatter. To be in a condition of tremulous excitement. Nothing to suggest serious thought or considered opinion there, then.

Birds twitter, especially tits—blue, great, coal—they keep up an endless twittering and tweeting as they dart around, hither and thither, always, it seems, in a state of tremulous excitement. Not a good way, I would have thought, to respond to tragedy or disaster. Boris Johnson, our new Foreign Secretary, one of the most senior and important Cabinet positions, has been tweeting.

“Shocked and saddened by the appalling events in Nice, and the terrible loss of life.” Of course, we all feel that. “Busy morning @foreign office receiving latest updates from (don’t appear to have a hashtag on my keyboard!AM) Turkey …” that was 2 hours ago as I write. In other words, he’s doing his job.

I suppose in the old days a message of condolence would have been spoken, on the phone, or sent by Diplomatic Telegram and then reported in the papers. Everything thoughtful and measured. Now, on Twitter, there need be little thought, but there’s a good chance that the Foreign Secretary’s official messages on“Nice” and “Turkey” will get muddled up with the utterly banal and constantly re-tweeted. The danger with this method of communication—a limited number of words sent out with speed and not much time for thought—is that the grave, the serious and the significant, become just another thing on the list. “Right. That’s done! What’s next?” I hope not a Sext. That can get you into a load of trouble.

Would you believe it? As I was writing that last line my one and only husband, deep in The Oldie or The Week, suddenly asked ‘What does Hext mean?’ I googled it and now I know and wish I didn’t. Hate Text. The given examples were disgusting. If this is how many people conduct their lives it is no wonder we are where we are.

I see that 12 Canadian Bishops have spoken out against Same Sex Marriage. I wonder how many of those voting for it were swayed by the Twitterings of the Twits, who know their rights but not their Bible.


This goldfinch is not a twitterer. He will stay still on the feeder eating quietly and neatly.

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