Amidst the hype machine of Twitter, I find myself more conscious of simple, everyday interactions that resemble the 140-character bite-size messaging platform. When you think about it, there are many forms of mini interactions that long preceded Twitter. Think smoke signals, caveman grunts or the telegraph. These all were situations where the communication transmission was constrained to short and frequent updates.
A more contemporary example would be crossing-guard Tommy. Monday through Friday, Tommy escorts students and train commuters safely across the Colonial Avenue and Pelhamdale Avenue intersection in my town of Pelham, New York. Each encounter with Tommy spawns a short and pleasant exchange, typically in small-talk phrases. If they were to be transcribed, most would fall within Twitterâ€™s 140-character transmission limit.
Todayâ€™s exchange was about sodium:
Laura, on our walk to the train, said: â€œHow are you Tommy? Feeling good?â€
Tommy: â€œOh yes, but watch the sodium! Itâ€™s bad for you and itâ€™s in everything you eat. Itâ€™s your enemy.â€
Laura: â€œWell, watch that sodium, and have a great day!â€
Tommy: â€œYou too, enjoy the day! And God bless.â€
Indeed, Laura would characterize Tommy as a franger â€“ a cross between a friend and a stranger, and a meaningful type of relationship in all of our lives. In most cases, frangers are bound to short exchanges, the equivalent of 140 characters or less.
It stands to reason that Twitter is a hotbed of franger relationships.
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