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Social media is a delicate game to play. The unacknowledged but vital rule of the whole shebang is to sound like you’re so comfortable in your own skin, you barely notice it’s there anymore. This is, of course, regardless of the sweaty punching of new personality traits into your bio each week. A delicate game, indeed.
Following Litro’s Twitter fiction experiment #litrostory, I started wondering how social media-savvy some of my favourite literary characters would be.
There are some characters, for instance, whose tweets I’d happily follow. E.M. Forster’s Mr Emerson, I feel, would broaden my horizons in three characters, let alone a life–transforming 140.
Mr Emerson @emersonsnr
I don’t care what I see outside. My vision is within! Here is where the birds sing! Here is where the sky is blue! #RoomWithAView
Speaking to others about the idea provoked interesting responses. American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman was mentioned as a potential tweeter, with particular consideration given to the wealth of interest he could bring to #businesscard as a trending topic.
Glancing through my bookshelves, however, it became clear that there is one particular fictional world in which the social media game would really soar. The latent derision, the explicit familial embarrassment, the romance? Jane Austen’s characters make for social media magic.
Of course, Mr Darcy is exceptionally fun to play with in this scenario. He probably wouldn’t be the biggest Facebook fan. I imagine it being thrust upon him by a slavering Caroline Bingley, longing to tag him in her photos of the annual Minimally Sexual Ball. Needless to say, any interaction would be begrudging, and so as not to offend his dear friend Bingley (an avid Facebook user and dilgent tweeter of all jolly sporting adventures.
Charles Bingley @NetherfieldLad
Big shout out to Mr Bennet for allowing me to shoot on his land today #considerablegenerosity
I’m not sure whether Facebook Mr. Darcy would be any more amenable than his fictional self appears to be on first meeting. But it is a truth universally acknowledged that Facebook is one of the few acceptable places where being an evasive snob actually makes you compelling. He would, no doubt, be one of those people you know by sight, but can never find when actually daring to type their name into the search bar.
If he were findable though, poor Facebook Mr Darcy would, I imagine, be highly susceptible to the post-ball pokes of Lydia and Kitty. After all, in this day and age, it is a foolproof method by which to secure the attention of those you admire. This is, of course, greatly enhanced by the number of pokes you make, and I can imagine them taking it in turns until the arrival of Jane, worried about any bruising the misunderstood fellow might accrue.
Lizzie Bennet, of course, would manage her Twitter persona carefully, every character polished and poised, wit and intelligence blended into one humbling feast of perfection.
Elizabeth Bennet @bennetsis2
A lady’s imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony, in a moment.
Of course, if Elizabeth and Darcy had been tweeting each other, their mutual attraction could not have been concealed for long. As we all know, Twitter manages to document the highest intellectual debates, and thus the two probably would have been drawn to one another long before the novel allows.
I can imagine Lizzie delving in and out of feminist forums, political petitions and earnest academic debate with ease and humour, her virtual prowess inciting almost tangible envy from aspiring ‘cool girls’ (as coined by Gillian Flynn’s Amazing Amy), and a heady deal of lust and admiration from Darcy. Further cementing their relationship would be the fact that Lizzie would know Wickham was an untrustworthy cad from the start. Facebook timeline would hardly facilitate the cover-up of poor Georgiana’s debacle, no matter how much soul Darcy managed to sell to Mark Zuckerberg.
So, mixing social media and Jane Austen makes the nation’s most coveted couple (I use the word ‘most’ lightly, I do know about Will and Kate) even more desirable than before. Nevertheless, for those partial to schadenfreude, especially in the case of characters so blessed with assets that vomit comes to mind (or mouth), it is rather pleasing to remember that however intelligent, thought-provoking, and heroic Elizabeth Bennett would be on Twitter, all success would have been dutifully undermined by Mrs Bennet’s social media presence. Just imagining it fills me with rapture. Oh, how I would await the status updates, gleaming with shameless filial preference.
Mrs Bennet @yummymummy
@colonelforster A spot of sea bathing would suit me down to the ground #theregiment
Perhaps, subjected to such over exposure, even Elizabeth Bennet would be reduced to brainstorming acceptable personality traits on a piece of scrap paper, whilst subtly fending off Family requests on Facebook. If social media would reduce even our wittiest heriones to insecure wrecks, perhaps we shouldn’t feel quite so daunted by the whole delicate game.
How would your favourite characters fare on the net? Let us know in the comments, or tweet us @litromagazine.