First Evernote murdered my paper notebook. Now Twitter eats away at my blog, one sound bite at a time. Why? My blogs get hits I can measure in the dozens, where a tweet like this gets an effective audience, according to Crowdbooster, of 900,000 impressions on the back of 600+ retweets:
When the last iceberg is gone, the last polar bear poisoned, and the last fish dead, we will discover we can’t eat oil.
This one, with 400 retweeets, 650,000 impressions:
“The World will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.” ~ Albert Einstein
And, rounding out the soothsaying with 280 retweets and 620,000 impressions:
After one look at this planet, any visitor from outer space would say ‘I want to see the manager’. ~ William S. Burroughs
What’s noticeable about those, of course, is that they’re simple statements.
I started rolling out relevant quotes on the advice of an internal memo from @julliettelucie about what was travelling in the Greenpeace twitter feed. “Don’t be afraid of cheese” she said. And pointed out that no matter how many times we retweet the original Chief Seattle quote that my mangling above is based on (“When the last tree is cut, the last river poisoned, and the last fish dead, you will discover that you can’t eat money.”) it hops around the twittersphere like a Mexican jumping bean on a trampoline. (“Cheese” of course, is cynical code for “inspiringly crafted words of simple wisdom with an emotive impact.”)
Unlike this one,
Breaking: Ice sheet twice as big as Manhattan separates from Greenland glacier. http://t.co/oozIDIar
with 160 retweets and 860,000 impressions, they don’t actually drive to a larger piece of news or thought. The tag alone declares a context and political agenda that they ride, but in and of themselves, they’re not driving a click. They’re just driving an idea.
And when that idea is stopping the oil industry juggernaut, drawing a line in the ice and declaring the Arctic the first battlefront in deciding whether humanity stops the oil industry or the oil industry stops humanity, twitter is the ticket. It says urgency. It says simplicity. It says the endless talking of multilateral summits and windbag diplomacy isn’t going to cut it. It’s time to remind ourselves of principles, values, and wisdom.
There’s still a need for longform thought in a world of jellybean brain farts. The blog, and this blog, will live on, of course. But when it comes to shaping the world’s conversation, infecting society’s internal monologue, and raising the questions that need to be raised, I’m probably going to be spending more and more time with Tweetdeck and less and less in WordPress. Selah.