Lots of things about Twitter are broken. There is the fact that they changed the UI to the ugliest possible UI. The fact that I installed a plugin that reverted it to the old UI, but now any time I click on a Tweet to read the thread/replies, I get sent to the tweeting person’s homepage. The fact that it is a giant performance, one in which I routinely take part. Lately it has been entertaining me less, this performance: the way people say emphatically the things they think (or know) other people want to hear, the statements that carry their own internal celebration of cleverness.
There is a butterfly outside my window right now, a little yellow one, flitting around the flowers on a bird of paradise bush, which is bright orange and orange-red, each of its stems shooting up out of the ground like a firework caught in a permanent trajectory.
Why look at the bad tweets and not the good butterfly? The butterfly will die, but the internet is even more fleeting. Or, paradoxically fleeting and permanent, an eternal record of our brief impulses, synaptic flashes captured and forgotten, but not quite lost. This same window often hosts puffy little brown birds: they don’t fly into the glass, they just perch on the windowsill and look inside, curiously. Yesterday two birds did fly into various of our windows, although not mortally. Perhaps they view me as being captured inside.
Perhaps I am captured inside, but in two weeks we’re going on vacation, and I will do my best to not be on any social media at all. I have been building a stack of books this week, feathering it like a nest, which I will carry to the water’s edge, to read beneath an umbrella. I will sit in the sun and the shade, I will float in the water, and bob up and down in the waves, just like a piece of driftwood.
This is a fast summer, which I say with the confidence of a person who knows it’s already almost September. A fast summer, which seems to be passing in increments of chores, a phone call here, a hotel booked there, a visit to the vet for the dog’s booster shots. Also passing in increments of easy pasta sauce, cooked too late and eaten past 8pm. Increments of sitting in the little outdoor bathtub, immersed up to my neck, watching a hawk swoop into the eucalyptus tree.
Sometimes I find myself thinking in funny anecdotes, witty asides, and I struggle to discern which of these thoughts should be saved for the larger project of my life, to share with people, in books, in essays, in dreams, and which exists only because of the singular world of social media, where all our thoughts are trapped behind a layer of glass, and carry within themselves their own most natural reaction.
I have planted six beanstalks and three melon seeds in a tiny corner of the garden, which I can easily water every morning, to see if I can take advantage of the summer heat and storms. If not, they will be a thought come and gone, a potential unleashed into the earth, burst from the soil, and withered naturally back again. They will not last, and that is fine, too.