An initial public offering, final draft | Chuck’s World

By Chuck Sigars | Nov 13, 2013

In case you missed it, you can now put your money where your mouth is. Assuming you speak in 140 characters or less.

Not that most of you had the opportunity to buy stock in Twitter, as I understand it (coming from a guy who had to look up “IPO” to make sure I understood what it meant).

But Twitter has invaded our public consciousness over the past seven years, and the flurry of news last week did a little invading of consciousness itself, as we all could watch and wonder about the price of banality.

That’s too harsh. My initial private reaction (IPR) to Twitter, back in the Dark Ages when I first became aware of it, has changed from horror to boredom.

I have a Twitter account, in fact, although since it takes me 140 characters to clear my throat, it’s obviously not for me. I remain a skeptic.

Note: The above consists of 810 characters, with spaces. I’ve yet to say anything interesting. I rest my case.

We can’t seem to avoid Twitter, though. It punctuates our news cycle, and occasionally makes news itself.

The problem, as I see it, is that Twitter inspires people to be pithy and profound, and very few of us are good at pithy, much less profundity.

It’s like haiku: Anyone can write one. Almost nobody does it well. And most of the people who don’t do it well, do it on Twitter. I rest my case once more.

It also inspires anecdotal experience, which often masquerades as truth.

What happened to you today in the check-out line might have been fascinating, humorous, illuminating, or all of the above, but it doesn’t translate into universal truth.

Although try telling that to Twitter.

Not that I’m opposed to anecdotal sharing. I’m an anecdotal writer, and reader. I’ve come to appreciate Facebook, the other social medium, for just this reason.

I have friends, and occasionally “friends,” who fill the screen with dictionary-definition trivia on a routine basis.

What they ate, where they’re heading, what they do when they get there and when they’re coming back, and at the end of this I’ve usually realized that they are doing something essentially human, which is telling a story.

It might be just the story of celebrating their wedding anniversary with sushi and “Gravity,” but there’s more truth in dull routine than in a million Justin Bieber tweets.

Recently I’ve been doing my share of trivia sharing (although some of you might suggest that I’ve been doing it for years in this very space. Some of you would be correct).

I’ve recently had the routine and unremarkable experience of having one of my children have a child of her own.

If you live long enough, and get a few details right, this can happen to you, too. Really. It wasn’t that hard to pull off.

And while I went through this experience, some up close and some from a distance, I tossed out not only many redundant paragraphs in this column but more than a few Facebook posts.

Waiting. Visiting. More waiting. A few pictures.

And details of the past couple of weeks, which has become my story, and the point of this column. And it only took me 3,039 characters (with spaces. Spaces count). That’s 22 tweets. No wonder I’m a skeptic.

I mentioned to a colleague the other day that whatever sense of style and propriety I still retain is telling me to shut up.

It’s a sexist sense, too; I just have this notion that grandfathers should limit their narrative.

Grandmothers seem to have more perspective when it comes to new babies in the family. Grandfathers get gushy and dumb. I know, I’ve been there now, I remain there.

Gush. Dumb.

But something happened to me that feels unique. And then I’ll shut up.

This also falls into the personal anecdote category, with the above caveat about truth. I have a very specific life, with very specific routines. My experiences recently could quite possibly never happen to you.

They should, though.

Of all the cultural changes that have occurred in the last half-century or so, I sometimes think the role of men in our society has been the most striking, particularly when it comes to parenthood.

Two generations ago, it would have been remarkable to see a father as the primary – or even fully shared – caregiver of his child. By the time I became a parent in 1984, it was becoming common, and even more common now.

But I get the sense that grandparents maintain conventional roles, and probably for very good reasons. I guess I expected this to be the case in my situation, and it might turn out to be.

I got a chance, though, to spend two weeks in Texas recently, with my newborn grandson and his mother, just the three of us for much of that time.

My daughter and I passed many hours, nearly all of them awake, taking care of a baby together while her husband was out of town on business. And it felt special.

Not just personally special, although yeah, absolutely. Culturally special. A rare opportunity. Something, maybe, to be shared. So I did, and do, and as I say, now I shut up.

But I’ll remember it for the rest of my life, which is all I really wanted to say.

That, and please stop with the haiku.

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