Yesterday, JL Johnson @jaeljohnson was teaching my Twitter book to his Sociology 101 class at George Mason University. He asked his class to summarize my Twitter book in less than 140 characters.
@jaeljohnson tweeted: “Limitless comm in digi era&brevity reigns @dhirajmurthy asks good/bad? Look @ history 4 connections w/past tech says +info -depth #sociology”
When he and some of his students tweeted at me regarding this assignment, it reminded me of the many occasions I have been asked to summarize my book into a tweet. A former colleague of mine, Brian Purnell, asked me to do this during a filmed discussion (on YouTube) we had about my book. The best I could come up with on the spot, at the time was ‘I tweet therefore I am’, a reference to a chapter in my book which plays on the famous Cartesian aphorism. But, I quickly backtracked (as I do in my book) saying that Twitter does not follow the strict, reductive Cartesian dualism (separating mind and body), but rather is a part of modern social communication for many of us. What I mean by this is that Twitter is highly socially embedded for many users and any strict dualism is highly problematic. I ended up in my response to Professor Purnell [around 1:13 on the YouTube video] with the answer: ‘I am social therefore, I tweet’. This ties in with the larger argument in my book that Twitter is part of complex social relations and we tweet for a multitude of sociopolitical reasons, which span from updating our followers to what we just ate to a cancer diagnosis or, more criminally, to hitting a cyclist (with that tweet leading to the Tweeter getting arrested).
I’m glad to hear my book went down well in @jaeljohnson’s sociology 101 class! I thought that the class’ tweet was insightful in teasing out some of the key aspects of my book, including its commitment to historicizing Twitter.