Over the weekend, I posted this Tweet on Twitter:
“Where hast thou been, sister?” “slaying salmon” @akgovsarahpalin I love my high faloutin’ English degree.
It was raucously funny because to understand the joke, you would have had to have read MacBeth and at some point in your life, when asked “where have you been?” you would have had to have fought hard to suppress the desire to answer with “killing swine.”
NOBODY retweeted, nobody came back with similar jokes. Nothing. A year ago, I would have seen half a dozen RT and LOL tweets.
But, here is the joke that is not funny.
I suspect nobody got the joke because more and more, Shakespeare is becoming less and less part of our “community connective tissue.” At a certain time, perhaps before Wikipedia, most college-educated folks had at least a cursory knowledge of the major works of Shakespeare. We knew things like “tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, creeps in this petty pace…” and “Out, out damned spot!” Moreover, we knew what it all meant and the meaning had some universality. Now, when quoting Shakespeare, you just get blank stares from recently-minted college grads.
I am fast coming to the conclusion that the smart, clever, educated people are leaving Twitter. I know as a nation, we are getting dumber and dumber. We’re kind of even proud of it.
But, most of me desperately hopes I am wrong.