Can Twitter be Literature?

On previous Quote Tuesdays, I’ve talked about how quoting something might say more about the person quoting than the literature itself. The choice to take out a tiny part of a whole and use it to make your point is an artistic choice in itself. Along the same lines, a quote can never fully represent a piece of literature, or anything, for that matter. You wouldn’t want a quote of one thing you said to entirely represent you as a person, would you? Quotes are extremely useful and necessary ways to talk about and analyze writing, but they have limitations.

However, it is not the length of the quote that limits it; it is the lack of its entirety, its context. For example, six word stories have become quite famous, as supposedly inspired by Ernest Hemingway:

For sale: baby shoes, never worn.Classic_baby_shoes

This is a story in its entirety, and the beauty of its short form is the depth of interpretation the reader can both glean and fill in with her imagination. This kind of work may or may not be a novel, but it certainly can be a complete piece of art.

So can short forms of social media, such as Twitter, be considered art as well? Or is Twitter more akin to quotes, little pieces of people taken out of context?

Twitter was created as a form of social media in which users AIMMP@Twittercould only post 140-character posts at a time to update their followers. In a sense, this seems similar to the six word story; there is a specific and limited form of writing, encouraging the writer to work creatively within the form. On the other hand, Twitter is usually simply seen as people saying what they think, expressing a quote about themselves or their lives to the world. Yet technically, they have the ability to edit and craft as any writer does, and people have certainly used Twitter creatively, as seen in the #TwitterFiction festival.

I suppose social media is simply a tool, as was the printing press. You can use it to write a to-do list, or you can use it to create literature. But what if you write literature in the form of a list, like this? I love that there is no concrete line defining literature, allowing creativity in form to continue to expand. I love that there is a novel written entirely in footnotes. Maybe I’ll write a novel in quotes one day.

Do you think Twitter can be literature?


One thought on “Can Twitter be Literature?

  1. Jamie says:

    Creative, imaginative people can turn just about anything into an art form, albeit some with more success than others. I would have a hard time calling it literature (or perhaps it just requires the passage of time), but as with six word stories, I would definitely appreciate the creativity required to produce a “story” in 140 characters or less. The short form has so much potential to be thought-provoking. I love the photo of the Peabody Library.


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