SNP’s word of the day: Twepression

Illustration by Lewis Mirrett

Illustration by Lewis Mirrett

Word: Twepression

Meaning: A certain slide in happiness, as seen on Twitter, over the last few years.

Usage: To paraphrase—with apologies—David Foster Wallace, “Twepression is a failure to identify.”

You should know it because: If this year has taught us anything it’s that it’s only a matter of seconds before someone uses this stupid portmanteau to describe a new study showing that happy-seeming tweets are in decline. A Twitter-analytical tool called the Mechanical Turk (nonsensically I love this) was used to suss this out and determine that we the Twittering classes are getting definitively sadder. To which I say, duh.

According to some guy at the University of Vermont: “In these billions of words is not a view of any individual’s state of mind. Instead, like billions of moving atoms add up to the overall temperature of a room, billions of words used to express what people are feeling resolve into a view of the relative mood of large groups.”

What fascinates me about this study has to do with my own idea of depression, which is closely linked to anomie. It’s caused by, and in true spiral form results in, a failure to connect and identify with others. Depression is the dark side of thinking you’re special, different, a precious inimitable snowflake. It’s what happens too easily when you believe no one understands you, or when you stop trying to understand others.

Twitter, with its trending topics and memes and endless repetition, should make us feel connected; it should make us feel less alone. That’s the point. Be part of the conversation. Stay in touch. In tune. Share. Instead, as this study shows, it can feel less like sharing than shouting into an abyss.

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