Monday, 20 May 2013

Words and Phrases - a Continuing Series

There are people in my household who seem to think that a Monday evening that doesn't include watching at least a part of Q&A, (it tends to be only a part as the programme acts as a soporific on its most enthusiastic viewer - or possibly it's the wine downed to render the content of the programme semi-tolerable), is a Monday evening wasted. I don't agree, but I am usually over-ruled. As a result, I find myself each week being enraged by many things - it's that kind of a programme - but above all by the host inviting me to 'join the Twitter conversation'.

The so-called 'Twitter conversation' is actually a band running along the bottom of the screen, displaying banal tweets by viewers. The tweets shown there are not all the tweets tweeted about the programme; the tweets shown there are only a select few. Some mysterious and mystifying process of editing or censorship is passed through before the successful ones are alllowed to show themselves before the wider viewing public. They are mostly stupid and dull, some are aggressive, one or two are mad. But what is worst about them is they ARE NOT A CONVERSATION. They are just a random collection of remarks. There is no quickfire bantering, there is no referring back, there is no expanding on a theme introduced by one tweeter and enlarged on by another.

What we are being tricked into believing is an exchange of thoughts is no such thing. It is just a burble. "Join the Twitter burble." That's what that man on Q&A should say each week. And if he did, I would answer, 'No, I won't - and even if I did you probably wouldn't let me join properly. You'd probably say, "That's not burbley enough, we can't show something that doesn't burble properly." So instead of joining the Twitter burble, as you are apparently inviting me to do, I'd be left pressing my nose eagerly against the window - or screen - of the Twitter burble. I'd be on the outside, wishing I could be inside. So it's actually a false invitation that you're giving me. In fact, it's a misuse of language. We've cleared up the conversation misunderstanding; you've agreed that it's actually a burble, but now we have the problem that the invitation that you're giving me isn't actually an invitation at all."

At that point, the Q&A fan in my house would wake up and ask me why I was shouting at the telly, and I'd say, 'Never mind, it doesn't really matter. I'm just going to take a look on Twitter', and then he'd go back to sleep.


  1. It's funny, that movement I can feel my mind making when I realise that a body, Q&A here, is using language euphemistically or gesturally, not literally, and how quickly it seems to be part of their normal and natural behaviour; their name begins to stand for a sort of euphemism-entity, not a representative of solid earth with plants, etc, able to grow in it, but a fog-generator.

    1. QandA, a bloated, slightly sweaty, white-furred bunyip creature, loping from regional capital to regional capital, generating fog, hot air and Twitter 'conversations' wherever it goes.