Charlie Bertsch (cbertsch) wrote,
Charlie Bertsch

Skid Marks on the Information Superhighway

I am still not sure how to maximize Twitter for my own personal use, even though I can understand how it works well for others. Part of my difficulty stems from my conviction, powerfully reinforced after years of using Live Journal and, more recently, Facebook, that I should be using it to keep up to date on the people I know, rather than just deriving passive benefit from the postings of those to whom I have no personal connection. It's horribly difficult to keep tabs on everything while still focusing on tighter circles of acquaintances.

Still, I continue to seek a more effective approach or, to be more accurate, attitude towards Twitter. Tonight I realized that one of its unexpected advantages as a platform might be the highly ephemeral nature of its content. While poring over the list of who and what I'm following, I stumbled upon the name of a performer who recently passed away. Assuming that his feed would have been turned into a shrine by friends and fans, I was surprised that it had instead assumed the function of a memento mori because it simply came to an abrupt end:
It's hard not to look for clues when examining the evidence left behind after a life cut cruelly short. Particularly with performers, there's a tendency for the public to think that hard living may have been to blame. But the last tweets here offer no proof of excess, unless a hankering for Pho is considered a sign of life in the fast lane. And that's what makes this man's account so unsettling to peruse.

I'm not sure how this insight will help me to make broader sense of Twitter. But it does occur to me that the service is full of accounts that also come to an abrupt end for less drastic reasons. Of course, the web more generally is awash with sites and feeds that linger on as virtual ruins long after they have ceased to be updated. Maybe the "little ends" betokened by such abandonment tell us something about changing attitudes about death. For my part, though, the fact that I know that the performer mentioned above passed away imbues his final public statements with a gravity at odds with the everyday experience of the internet.
Tags: blogging, new media, theory

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