Friday, May 20, 2011

Distractedly Aggressives of Twitter



Via NYT:

Basically, we are outsourcing our brains to the cloud. The upside is that this frees a lot of gray matter for important pursuits like FarmVille and “Real Housewives.” But my inner worrywart wonders whether the new technologies overtaking us may be eroding characteristics that are essentially human: our ability to reflect, our pursuit of meaning, genuine empathy, a sense of community connected by something deeper than snark or political affinity.

The most obvious drawback of social media is that they are aggressive distractions. Unlike the virtual fireplace or that nesting pair of red-tailed hawks we have been live-streaming on nytimes.com, Twitter is not just an ambient presence. It demands attention and response. It is the enemy of contemplation. Every time my TweetDeck shoots a new tweet to my desktop, I experience a little dopamine spritz that takes me away from . . . from . . . wait, what was I saying?

My mistrust of social media is intensified by the ephemeral nature of these communications. They are the epitome of in-one-ear-and-out-the-other, which was my mother’s trope for a failure to connect.

I’m not even sure these new instruments are genuinely “social.” There is something decidedly faux about the camaraderie of Facebook, something illusory about the connectedness of Twitter. Eavesdrop on a conversation as it surges through the digital crowd, and more often than not it is reductive and redundant. Following an argument among the Twits is like listening to preschoolers quarreling: You did! Did not! Did too! Did not!

2 comments:

laura linger said...

Indeed, it IS an illusion, and that is precisely why I have left Facebook almost entirely behind (save for answering questions my mother insists upon leaving on my "wall," earth-shattering stuff like "did you hear that the guy who played Kenickie in Grease is in the hospital, Laura Beth?"). Facebook and I were just fine together until I realized that I was "friends" with a lot of people who, to be blunt, I really did not like. Just because we went to the same high school once does not make us "friends" today. And then it dawned on me that, but for Facebook, I would never have anything to do with these people ever again. Now that's the universe trying to tell me something.

I use Twitter, but mostly for overflow of clips and other goodies that my readers send to me. Sometimes it serves as a sort of holding pattern until I can get 'em up on the blog.

XOXOXOXOXOXOXO

Writer said...

Laura, I have the same issue with Facebook, but I've decided to keep it as a means to expose my high school friends to my gay self. :)

As for Twitter, I'm still catching up with it. My friend Kirk says I need to follow more people. So I've been working on that. :)