Through every phase of technology, people have communicated through conversation. They spoke in a beginning, a middle, and an end. People wrote letters. They were long and individual. Books were written in the styles of Dickens and Melville. As telephones, radio, and TV happened, literature responded. Novels became less ornate, more direct and informal, giving rise to movements like modernism. Then, as the world became smaller and more complex, postmodernism reacted.
The telephone was a face-to-face conversation without faces. TV and radio were traditional stories with commercial breaks. Email was just a less time-consuming letter. Through all of these changes, single narratives still ruled.
Social media is different.
It is a method of communication unlike any that came before. Facebook and Twitter don’t follow a single narrative, they don’t try to tell a story, yet they still do. They contain single moments, each one complete in itself, that taken together form a “mosaic” view of a character and a story. A person’s profile page, for instance, tells hundreds of small, generally unrelated things that, when viewed from a distance, can form a complete sketch of that person. A story is created intuitively by the reader.
This is how the generation that came into awareness in the age of social media takes in information. But literature has yet to react. Works that have tried to emulate this, writing in “posts” or “tweets,” use only the shape. They are still traditional narratives in which each “post” is only a necessary step on the way to a story. They treat the internet as a gimmick.
This blog is different. A series of flash fiction pieces that unfold in disjointed, but linear, time. Each moment is self-contained, unaware of any larger story. But, when read as a whole, a full character and story develop. It is a form of communication used by an entire generation, but not represented in literature.