Twitter is no place for novels. Unless you're David Mitchell

Bravo to him for discovering the site and then achieving anything at all

Share

After becoming fascinated by the medium of Twitter, the author of Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell, has written a rollicking short story – The Right Sort – to be broadcast in 280 chunks of 140-character tweets. I’m enjoying it greatly, and want to congratulate him for discovering Twitter and then achieving anything at all.

The dark secret about Twitter – which no creative type who devotes earthly hours there wants to admit – is that Twitter is one of the most toxic tools of life-frittering folly ever invented. And I say this after 63,000 tweets and amassing 207,000 followers. Twitter is the Devil’s own social network, cluttering up idle hands that could be writing a film script, sketching the first draft of a new novel, or penning that tricky second album.

Yes, Twitter is indeed fantastic for keeping users utterly up to the minute on current affairs, zeitgeist in-jokes, whistleblowings, cross-party slander, media slanging matches and the story behind the story, but the use of this in creating art is perilously limited.

In 1845, Charlotte Brontë created Jane Eyre after a long, tedious stare out of the window. The Beatles lost themselves in India and penned 45 tracks of varying intricate splendour. Right at this moment, finer minds than even Charlotte, Paul and John are staring slack-jawed at computer screens or iPhones, mulling over the fact that Tweeter A (whom they don’t know) is gently passive-aggressively sub-tweeting about Tweeter B (whom they know a tiny bit) while frantically refreshing their screen to see whether either of them (whom they wouldn’t even give the time of day to in a pub in real life) has taken the bait and is starting a Twitter scrap.

Social media, and specifically Twitter, give us a previously unthinkable, seemingly omniscient perspective on the world, but it’s a bit like when the boys from This Is Spinal Tap were at Graceland staring at Elvis’s grave. “Well, this is thoroughly depressing,” David St Hubbins said. “It really puts perspective on things, though, doesn’t it? Too much. There’s too much fucking perspective.” We’re granted so much access to everything to think about, there’s literally no time to think.

Of course, here’s where works like The Right Sort – so gorgeously slender, and to the point, and comprising manageable bite-sized chunks – find their forte. Who of those deeply involved with social media has time to read an actual whopping novel like Cloud Atlas? I’ll just wait for one of the Twitterverse’s great readers to tweet their views, or buy it and add it on my Kindle to the stack of other books I was recommended on Twitter which I haven’t read yet, and never will as I was on Twitter.

I’ve been really rather busy. Far too busy to write another novel. Besides, Tweeter A (whom I don’t care about) has remarked that Tweeter B (who everyone knows is a crank) is a bad feminist and now all Tweeter B’s fans are trolling Tweeter A’s account and she is claiming to be bullied.

It’s a terrible to-do and I’m really not terribly interested but that will take me up until lunchtime, when people who become angry about the cliché that Twitter is “people discussing their lunch” will readily explain their lunches. I might try to read a few chapters – 280 characters or so – of David Mitchell’s novel, but I’m really rather busy.

READ MORE:
I'm tired of hearing about Israel and Palestine
Apple doesn't like vaginas, and they're not alone
What the media isn't telling us about the Middle East

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Web Designer / Front End Developer

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast expanding web managem...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: Why it won’t be the i wot won it – our promise to you

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
A relative of dead Bangladeshi blogger Washiqur Rahman reacts after seeing his body at Dhaka Medical College in Dhaka on March 30,  

Atheists are being hacked to death in Bangladesh, and soon there will be none left

Rory Fenton
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor