A single Tweet on Twitter consists of 280 characters. Is that enough to get poetic? Does the shortness of the posts explain the popularity of literary Tweets on Twitter known as Twit Lit? Much quicker, always accessible, and easy to share.
When Twitter was launched in 2006, it was defined by so-called “bursts of inconsequential information” resembling the cheep of a bird. By 2020, Twitter had become the largest source of breaking news in the world: Trump, Coronavirus, and celebrity gossip. Welcome to Twitter!
The platform is also used by writers as their creative writing diary. They can publish short stories, novels, and poems in a series of Tweets. But can we read literature via social media? Since Twitter is not designed as a platform for literature, the surrounding memes, trends, and shitstorms can render the reading experience of Twit Lit difficult. As long as you stay on the poet’s Twitter page, you stay safe from being dragged into the endless chirping of Twitter users.
Reading books is supposedly more conducive for achieving a more engaging reading experience. But is Twit Lit even trying to imitate the reading experience of a 400-page novel? Isn’t the attractiveness of TwitLit its preciseness, the 280 characters that promise to be more because they are less, the things left unsaid between single Tweets? Comparing the reading experience of Twit Lit to reading a book is like comparing Coca Cola to Fanta. Both are sodas but the taste is different.
In 2018, Jeffrey Koenig decided to turn his German great uncle’s diary into a Twitter account. After all, it was not only a way to learn about his family’s ancestry but served as a historical account of one of the most important years in German history. Berlin in the 1930s marked the end of the Weimar Republic, the first parliamentary democracy in Germany, and the rise of the Nazis.
Through these entries, the reader is suddenly drawn back to the past- inasmuch as that is possible while accessing social media via the internet on your mobile phone in 2020. It can be hard to imagine what the world was like almost 100 years ago but isn’t the juxtaposition of the medium of Twitter and a diary from the 1930s what makes it even more interesting? The short diary entries fit the 280 characters of a Tweet uncannily perfectly.
See for yourself: https://twitter.com/berlin_diary