I’m not naïve enough to believe that Twitter gives anything other than the illusion of knowing. There’s quite a lot of philosophy on Twitter, I find. In many ways, Twitter lends itself to philosophy: quotes, one-liners, gnomic comments. Maxims, aphorisms, these are grist to the Twitter mill.
Art also, gets tweeted into my timeline. Photography, not all of it to do with cats. Sometimes an image will strike you. Sometimes, an image, combined with a gnomic comment or two, will slay you.
So it was with a certain Russian tweeter, who came into my timeline via @GuyLongworth, philosopher at Warwick university, who is also fond of tweeting art and music.
Monday morning regrets the tremor.
— Elena Epaneshnik (@ElenaEpaneshnik) April 21, 2014
As you can see, Ms. EE has a perfect combination of enticing profile pic while scoring a 10 on the gnomic scale.
Now. Let’s be careful. On the Twitter, nobody knows you’re a dog. So a cruel and cunning person could invent a twitter profile, as a kind of social experiment. Pepper it with art and philosophy, a couple of food/drink pics, a few selfies of an apparently stunningly beautiful young woman – then sit back and watch as scores of middle aged men who should know better try to get “her” to notice them.
But what if she’s real? She suddenly becomes crush material. A shoot-from-the-hip public intellectual seeker after truth and beauty who occasionally, and diffidently, posts a grainy photo of herself that offers a view, from here in the cheap seats, of the big leagues. Or, as Jean Brodie might have said, of her with the cheekbones.
Pathetic, I know. Believe me, I know. But here is the antidote to all the stuff on Twitter that would otherwise make me quit. There’s a lot of hate on Twitter, some of it from me. I hate Tories, I make no bones. Always have, and always will. But rather than turn my life into a total immersion version of the Guardian comment threads, I do like to crack open the window into that wondrous and gnomic world of pithy aphorisms and art. It’s not the kind of thing I can really do. Reading it often takes me back to my days on the Critical Theory MA, when I would sit surrounded by earnest politicos quoting Nietsche and Marx. I too could quote Marx, but Groucho, not Karl.
(In the end, I outdid them all, discovering my own favourite pet philosopher/polymath, someone so obscure that none of his books were in the university library, few of them even available in English – but that was later in the game.)
You read lines like, “Hey girl, are you my appendix, because I want to take you out,” and know that you couldn’t come up with something like that in a million years. Hey girl, are you Jesus, because I want to nail you? No? Is this thing on?
When I post something with a typo, I’m mortified. Sometimes I delete and repost, sometimes I post a despairing follow-up. When Ms EE posted an early morning tweet with typo, she followed up with this:
Guten Morgen, typo. Want a cup of coffee?
— Elena Epaneshnik (@ElenaEpaneshnik) April 16, 2014
Now that’s philosophy. Anyway, Ms EE posted an ambiguous comment the other day. After posting a picture of her bottom half (not in a dirty way) in her travelling boots (one assumes), she said, “Twitter, I like you, I’m going to miss you.” Now, this could just have been someone wittily signing off for the night. Or it could have been someone about to go on holiday to Roamingchargesland, off-grid for a while. Or it could have been a bit of attention seeking, I’m leaving Twitter forever, okay, bye.
I don’t know, and that’s the point of Twitter, and one of its deepest mysteries. You’ve very little chance of really understanding someone who lives several time zones to the East, who tweets in her second, third, or fourth language, who might not even exist. I personally have “left” Twitter many times, but you’d never know about it, because I wouldn’t announce it in advance. Sometimes you just take a break. Sometimes you really are just saying goodnight, but in a gnomic way, because that’s what you do. I often delete whole blogs and start again, not because I’m committing blogicide, but because I occasionally like a fresh start (and made the mistake, years ago, of abandoning a blog so thoroughly that I couldn’t even go back to edit it – it’s still there). But I don’t announce it in advance, because I wouldn’t fish for those kinds of responses.
Ms EE’s “I’ll miss you” tweet has since been deleted – probably because she was nonplussed by the reaction from her many followers, who responded as if she’d announced a permanent Twitter retirement. She didn’t dignify them with a response, as far as I could tell, and their comments now sit in the ether, footprints leading to the blank door of a deleted tweet.
She’s mysterious, sure enough, but so is everyone else.