Jonathan Franzen hates Twitter
Jonathan Franzen, author of “Freedom” and “The Corrections,” arguably one of the greatest modern american writers of our time, recently advanced his contempt of technology by adding twitter to the list of things he utterly dislikes.
Writer Jami Attenberg blogged about Franzen’s comments at a talk on Monday in New Orleans hosted by Tulane University. Before he unleashed a verbal lashing on Twitter Franzen criticized the end of “Revolutionary Road” as “falsely bleak.” Franzen continued, “there’s something goofy about American literature since modernism came to an end.” The author held nothing back when discussing Twitter.
“Twitter is unspeakably irritating. Twitter stands for everything I oppose. It’s hard to cite facts or create an argument in 140 characters … It’s like if Kafka had decided to make a video semaphoring The Metamorphosis. Or it’s like writing a novel without the letter ‘P’… It’s the ultimate irresponsible medium. People I care about are readers … particularly serious readers and writers, these are my people. And we do not like to yak about ourselves.”
While I do not entirely agree with Franzen’s position on e-books (he strongly dislikes those too) I tend to side with him on Twitter. When people start tweeting about their breakfast or getting a haircut it is hard not to view Twitter, and the people who use it, as completely preposterous and wholly self indulgent.
Innovation in “social media” is revolutionary in that it connects people and thoughts in rapid speed. Social media is the ultimate equalizer in that it gives everyone, literally everyone, a voice. The problem with social media, and Franzen would probably agree, is that not everyone should have a voice — at least not one so vain and self concerned.
Last year Franzen took on Facebook saying, “we star in our own movies, we photograph ourselves incessantly, we click the mouse and a machine confirms our sense of mastery. And, since our technology is really just an extension of ourselves, we don’t have to have contempt for its manipulability in the way we might with actual people. It’s all one big endless loop. We like the mirror and the mirror likes us. To friend a person is merely to include the person in our private hall of flattering mirrors.”
Slate reports that Franzen’s comments quickly sparked the hashtag #JonathanFranzenhates which is a rumination about all the things Franzen hates. According to people on twitter Franzen hates everything from hipsters, “who gave thick black glasses a bad name,” to cameras, “because real pictures should be painted.”
During the talk Franzen conceded: “Very probably, you’re sick to death of hearing social media disrespected by cranky 51-year-olds.”