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Tweet, Tweet, Tweet

BY BEAU ELLIOT | JUNE 30, 2009 7:21 AM

I have a Twitter account, I announce to a friend, apropos of utterly nothing.

(Which is typical of me. A great deal of the time, I’m a walking non sequitur, much to the consternation of my colleagues, which is my word for the people who are forced, usually against their will, to work with me.)

My friend looks at me as if I had announced I totally believe in the Bible’s parting-of-the-Red-Sea story. Or if I had actually used the word “totally.” She knows I’m 20 years or so too old to enunciate such terms as “totally” or “Ohmygod.” At least in polite company.

She looks at me this way because she knows me. She knows I regard Facebook and MySpace with about as much attention as I regard Tocharian verse. Which is to say, about as much attention as I regard the fate of ex-planet Pluto. She knows I will never have a cell phone. She knows I have never owned a TV.

Twitter?

Well, yes. I explain as carefully as I can, knowing full well that humans are never so ridiculous as when they try to explain something that seems as out of character as admitting to having an affair after voting to impeach then-President Clinton for having a dalliance. (See Argentina and Mark Sanford.)

And yes, it does seem ludicrous to be a part of a network that calls its messages “Tweets.” I mean, it reminds me of a cartoon character. And my life seems enough like a cartoon as it is.

But I was really taken with a recent DI story about Iranian-Americans urging people to change their Twitter accounts so that their locations are Tehran and their time zones are GMT plus 3 1/2 hours. And I couldn’t change my Twitter account until I had a Twitter account. It’s that kind of universe.

The reason behind doing that with one’s Twitter account is that the Iranian government is reportedly using Twitter locations and time zones to find Iranian dissidents. The thinking is, if enough people change to Tehran and GMT plus 3 1/2, it will be more difficult for the Iranian government to find the dissidents.

Well, that’s theory, anyway. I realize that my setting up a Twitter account is not going to do all that much to help the people in Iran. In fact, all that’s happened is that my Gmail has filled up with announcements that all these people are “following” me — which is interesting, because I haven’t put up a single Tweet. For one thing, I forgot my password almost immediately.

That sounds more like the Beau I know, my friend says.

Well, it beats thinking about secondhand smoke, I say, in my non sequiturly sort of way. Well, it is almost the anniversary of Iowa’s smoking ban.

And a new study, as reported by NPR, shows that overwhelmingly, lung cancer among people who have never smoked is not linked to secondhand smoke — it’s caused by other environmental factors. Which would be, most probably, auto pollution and air pollution from coal plants.

Hmm, let’s see. We no longer have smoking on campus, because, by God, we’re going to be PC if it kills us. Which it very well might if it doesn’t kill democracy first. But we do have tens of thousands of vehicles driving through and around the vicinity each day, and we have — cough — a coal-fired power plant right in the center of campus.

Good thing we have a smoking ban on campus to keep us all healthy.

I liked you better when you were talking about Twitter, my friend says.


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