“I’m still going to keep writing the blog,” I said to Alice. “It’s important for me to stay connected with my audience.”
“You have an audience?” she said.
“With a young pope, yes,” I said.
The reason I thought writing the blog was important was something that George Orwell had written in his essay, “Inside the Whale.” He said (and I’m interpreting as well as paraphrasing here) that one can’t write the revolution into existence. Even if one faces the great conflagration which is civilization burning to ashes, unless you are manning the pumping stations you aren’t helping. The more books you write, the hotter the fire gets. Well, actually, George Orwell didn’t say that, but it seemed pretty clear to me that my impulse to spend the next four years hidden away in my study writing fat books wasn’t really going to make the world a better place. It might get me through these dark times, but if I emerge from my study in November 2020 and find that there’s nothing left, I might just feel a little guilty.
“So what are you going to do?” asked Jose. I’d explained all this to Jose over a pint of beer at Callahan’s Monday evening.
“I want to do something to build community. Something collaborative,” I said. “Authoritarian dictators hate it when people form communities. So what I thought I would do is spend an hour each week writing on Twitter.”
“Don’t you already do that?” asked Jose. “I see your tweets.”
“Thank you for reading,” I said and raised my glass. “But what I mean is spending a whole continuous hour actually writing on twitter. Not just a tweet here and there throughout the week. What I’m thinking is to spend, say, Tuesday evenings from seven to eight Eastern time writing words and tweeting them.”
“I don’t get it,” said Jose.
“It’s like collaborative performance art,” I said. “Like jazz improvisation in the park and anyone can join in. I mean, other people on Twitter can not only read the tweets, but they can respond, they can participate. I’ve seen this done where someone will take over a Twitter feed and field questions. It’s called ‘Ask Me Anything’ I think,” I said. “I’ve seen soccer players doing this on Twitter.”
“But those guys are famous,” said Jose.
“You’re not famous,” said Jose.
“I don’t think being famous is a prerequisite to spending an hour tweeting,” I said.
“You might be right about that,” said Jose.