A blog of general comment by one of L.A.'s best known commentator/essayists. Humor, drama, pathos, satire and, well, everything else.
(This is by way of introducing you to the writing of Dashiell Young-Saver, a 17-year-old high school senior who is a member of my Topanga Writers Workshop. To say he is a prodigy would only begin to describe his writing abilities. A straight-A student recently accepted to Harvard, he is as adept at humor as he is at high drama. Meet tomorrow.)
By Dashiell Young-Saver
Shakespeare would have loved Twitter.
For those my age reading this who aren’t familiar with Shakespeare, he wrote plays on an island long ago, when people lived in their own feces. For those of you who do not know what a play is: it is like a T.V. show, but harder to understand. For those who do not know what a T.V. show is: it is an internet video that has a plot. And by plot, I mean a story, not a plot of land on Farmville.
Now getting back to the point before I lose your short attention spans, Shakespeare would have loved Twitter because it forces the youth of the world to become more inventive and creative writers.
Shakespeare wrote poems and plays in structured formats. His sonnets had to have iambic pentameter, rhyme, and be a certain length. The rigid structure seems confining, but it actually forced Shakespeare to be even more creative to work within the format and give meaning to his work. That is why old people like his stuff.
Twitter is even more structured than a Shakespearean sonnet or a play. Limited to 140 characters, Twitter would have ended this column at the first mention of feces (coincidentally, that’s also the place where many stopped reading this column). So, each tweet is almost as structured as Bruce Jenner’s face.
To fit any sort of meaning in the character-limit, twits (pun intended) have to be inventive and make up words, much like Shakespeare made up some of his. LOL, ROTFL, FTW, IDK. Since Shakespeare’s time, there has never been so much significance in so few letters. The abbreviations and shortened words convey meanings both literal and figurative. Well, figurative in that they may be talking about someone else’s body figure, as people often do on Twitter.
The Chinese were able to put years of significance and wisdom into single characters in their languages, and now they are taking over our economy, industry, and culture. American teenagers are now doing thousands of years of character condensing catch-up on Twitter with abbreviations. And they are succeeding.
Already so many abbreviations come from Shakespeare’s greatest works. His play Julius Ceaser is JC or “just chillin’” or “Jesus Christ” in youth speak. The play King John (KJ) is JK (just kidding) backwards. The Tempest is TT, which also stands for “Big Tease.” And some of his most famous tragedies arranged in a certain order: Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Othello, and Macbeth can be abbreviated as JHOM or “just helping out my…”
As I see my peers use more of their own words and grammar, I can’t help but boast that we are the most creative and developed writing generation. Maybe one day, we can condense the many ideas and significances of words into a single character. At that point, our generation will have conquered, I mean mastered, the English language.
As Shakespeare once wrote in the play King Henry IV Pt.2, “Yea, man and birds are fain of climbing high.” So shall the Twitter bird and the young man of today climb higher than ever before in the English language.
Academics (people who live in their own feces or, what they call, their own ideas) respect Shakespeare for his ability to question and express the essence of human nature. He asked the tough questions. But one question that would not have been tough for Shakespeare is “To tweet, or not to tweet.” He easily would have answered with a resounding “Tweet FTW (for the win).”
Al Martinez is a Pulitzer Prize winning essayist, former columnist for the Los Angeles Times, author of a dozen books, an Emmy-nominated creator of prime time television shows, a travel writer, humorist and general hell-raiser. Try him. He's addictive.
Joanne Cinelli Martinez is composed of artist, poet, gourmet chef, interior decorator, photographer, volunteer, and all around intelligent person; also the life long partner and care taker of the simple but happy little man who runs the blog. She views him with suspicion and uncertainty. It is a cautionary love story.