What he should have written
Dustin Curtis is the proprietor of Svbtle, the “magazine” I’m swiftly propelling over a long-bodied marine fish. One of the benefits of running your own online magazine is that you can stick whatever you want on the front page. And in this case, Dustin stuck this essay on the front page.
In essence, it’s an essay about how using Twitter makes him dumber and ruins his ability to write essays. And it’s hard to argue with the results, because the essay is terrible. However, I don’t think Dustin’s bad writing was caused by Twitter and his 7,742 tweets on the service.
If Twitter truly ruined the will and ability of writers to communicate longer thoughts, then why are so many fantastic writers using Twitter? Has Rian Johnson’s quality of output decreased since he joined Twitter in 2009 (14,076 tweets)? (Hint: No, he wrote and directed LOOPER in that period.) Has Joe Hill forgotten how to write because he tweeted 29,057 times? (Hint: No, he wrote NOS4A2, Horns, Locke & Key, and various short stories in that time.) And don’t even get me started on Neil Gaiman and his 62,211 ability-destroying tweets (more than eight times as many as Dustin Curtis, which explains why Mr. Curtis is eight times better at writing than Neil Gaiman).
But there’s a massive hole in my logic. These are all writers in the world of fiction. They get to make things up. Pshaw! Dustin Curtis has to wrestle pure unadulterated reality to the ground with his insightful prose. His mind is full of brilliant complex ideas, and Twitter “destroys them by forcing [his] brain to compact them into little 140-character aphorisms, truisms, or jokes.” Surely non-fiction writers around the world are crippling their careers by destroying all their ideas on Twitter. Writers like Susan Orlean (24,937), Tim O'Reilly (27,188), Dr. Phil Plait (35,155), and David Carr (24,978). They’ve all had to quit their jobs because they’ve been frittering away their great ideas on 140 character bursts of simplified approximations.
Except, of course, none of these people have lost their will or their ability to write. They continue along in their careers without problem. Twitter is just another platform for their writing. In fact, it’s a platform they all use much more frequently than Dustin Curtis with his piddly 7,742 tweets.
In truth, I don’t know why Dustin Curtis can’t explore complex ideas through his writing. But I do know it’s not Twitter’s fault.
You should follow me on twitter here (20,355 tweets and counting).