It’s safe to say that Twitter Fiction is a creative misuse of the social media platform — when I think of Twitter, I think of it as a way for people to send out short updates to their followers about their daily lives or trite messages about one’s thoughts, not to share elaborate stories that span multiple tweets. The idea of telling a narrative through 140 character tweets is quite a novel idea, and one that not many have explored. Teju Cole was one of the first with his story “Hafiz,” a story about a man suffering from an attack of sorts while passersby look on. Cole sent out sentences of the story to friends to tweet out individually, in which he retweeted them in succession so that the whole narrative would be complete on his timeline.
Many of us in class voiced our disappointment in the fact that the story was not crowdsourced; not only is Twitter a perfect medium in which many people can contribute to one story, the style of the story also seemed to reflect a collaborative effort of sorts. Certain aspects of the story seemed to contradict each other or not make sense in the chronological order they were placed in, leading those who had read the story first to believe it was written by multiple people playing off each other. Part of the magic seemed to disappear when we realized that this story was artificially put together by Cole. It would have been really neat to see either a group of people deciding beforehand to contribute line by line (or tweet by tweet in this case) or a narrative composed of random tweets found by Cole. As mentioned in class, however, it would be extremely difficult to sort through the billions of tweets to create anything of literary merit.
In my honest opinion, I think that Twitter Fiction is innovative but not the most impactful or effective mode of storytelling. Most people on Twitter are not looking to read a story when they log on, and the constraints of the medium make it difficult to create a well-developed story. If anything, Twitter lends itself more to the style of poetry, as each tweet must be meaningful and carefully thought out.