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Twain on Twitter

I wish Mark Twain was on Twitter! A social critic who, when he had a beef or a view he wanted to share, could state it in 280 characters or less—the exact limit required of Twitter.

Twain never had a problem taking a position and always having a point of view worth sharing. He pronounced, “Our opinions do not really blossom into fruition until we have expressed them to someone else.” So, if Mark Twain was on Twitter, he would use it often and certainly have lots of followers. “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” he said. He further reasoned, “It usually takes more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.” Therefore, I think we could count on Twain to spend a good deal of time being brief, and a 140 character limit is brief.

Another interesting and entertaining aspect of his being on Twitter would be his speaking in Huck’s tongue. He might say, “Makes me feel powerful smart and scholarly-like to put them thoughts together fittin’ for Twitter.’.

When shaping public discourse, Huck can still make a difference. In 1983, when Davenport’s floodwall was debated, a young writer wrote to the Quad City Times’ “Sound Off” using Huck’s dialect. The opinion writer wrote, “Ain’t no sense in builin’ a dern wall ruinin’ everyone’s views and everything!”

Sometimes small, humorous essays can help solve differences, and we need more of them these days. Imagine what his thoughts would be on the elections, Congress, transportation policy, the farm bill, river restoration, and climate change!

He might post his “Climate is what we expect. Weather is what we get.” Remarkably forward in his thinking, in the 1800’s, he wrote “It is your human environment that makes climate.” And weatherwise, he suggested, “Cold! If the thermometer had been an inch longer, we’d all have frozen to death.” All the while observing and maintaining “Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is lightning that does the work.” Today he might have Huck say,“Ain’t no sense in not stoppin’ climate destruction when it’s dryin up the river and everything!”

Brevity and wit were his strengths. Yes, we would all love to follow Mark Twain on Twitter. But reading this prolific writer books, we can still benefit from him and still be followers.