Recently I’ve come to re-evaluate my love affair with the world’s most perfunctory channel of noise. Several weeks ago, after recovering from a violent case of the stomach flu, I realized that lately Twitter tends to stress me out in the same way diatribic diner menus and multi-level department stores do – too much going on, too much to process, too much noise. Upon recovering from the 24-hr purge-fest, I underwent a cathartic purging of my material belongings and in the process asked myself what had value and what had meaning. Not to my surprise, a lot didn’t and I ended up donating over 50 books to the public library. One book, however, that made the cut and I’m currently reading is “The Power of Now.” Twitter seems to perfectly illuminate how NOT present I am – it is simply a snapshot of the past or reminder for the future. But it is not me living in the NOW.
I’ve since scaled back on the number of people I follow and will probably continue to do so even more. I like being lean. But even more, I like being in the moment. If I’m twittering, I’m not present. To be present in a 140-character, a-thousand-voices-speaking environment is like being a tiny buoy bouncing up and down to the whims of the ocean’s waves, never knowing that an entire world exists below it.
I’m not abandoning Twitter. I still plan on using it for the most self-serving, basic purpose – as a microblog of my life. Verily, I want my life and the people who I care about captured, so that (and this might sound unorthodox to some) when say my dad is no longer physically present, he will persist. And if my niece or perhaps, in the event I do have children, my children want to know about me or the people in my life, I will have left a trail of breadcrumbs. (Which reminds me, @Ev, maybe you should spend less time on Oprah and more time on the archiving and access issue – I want ALL of my tweets archived and accessible).
Andrew McAfee said in his recent writeup of twitter that “humans like to be altruistic” and I responded that humans have a need to be relevant – altruism is simply a bi-product. How can we be relevant if we are not present in our own lives? Can I truly be present in the moment if I’m twittering away? The fact is, I don’t tweet the most memorable moments of my life because either I won’t forget them or a 140-character line of text cannot do the moment justice. And what does this mean? Do I simply tweet the forgettable moments? What does that say about Twitter? In order to be memorable, I need to be present and for me, that’s the only relevance that matters.
I will also continue to use Twitter as a bookmarking tool to information sources of interest to me (and other folks who might be interested as well). But it’s really about me. And all the minutia I said has meaning, I need to appreciate more.