Wednesday, May 11, 2011

"I Should Tweet That!"

Like many people, I heard of Osama Bin Laden's death on Twitter. Most of the breaking news I get these days comes from Twitter, and it's also a way I talk to many of my friends around the country, often on a daily basis. What at first seemed like (and often still is) a silly tool to empower utterly inane self-obsession and indulgence (I do not exclude myself from such criticism) has in fact evolved into a disruptive, important force in the media, and beyond.

For me personally, I loathed it when it first came out, when I watched other people use it, but then realized that I actually enjoyed the challenge of trying to write in 140-character phrases, and liked bleating out random inanities throughout the day. Sure is easier than blogging! I'd never bother to try to convince anyone who doesn't "get" Twitter why they should, nor would I mount some passionate defense of it or my use of it. If it's not your thing, that's okay. Hey, I've been trying to figure out for 20-something years why people like Julia Roberts, and I still have no clue. We like what we like.

My current concern, however, is the way Twitter has insinuated itself into my personal life, to an extent that is now beginning to bother me, I think. Or rather, it's bothering other people in my family, which made me realize that I needed to think about what I was doing. Specifically, everything in my life is now fodder for Twitter. I mean, I've been kind of living "in public" for a long time, by choice, but now, because of the immediacy of Twitter, I am constantly scanning whatever is happening around me as possible tweet material. Funny sign on a wall? Tweet it. Daughter says something funny? Tweet it. Dog is looking particularly pathetic? Tweet it.

I like doing it because I like sharing the stuff that makes me laugh with others. And I don't think there's anything wrong with that. I'll keep doing that, even after this blog post. The problem is just knowing when to stop, or when to leave things to themselves. I tweeted throughout our family vacation in Hawaii in December. It was fun to do, and I got a lot of funny responses. But by the end of the trip I was honestly feeling kind of bad about it. Why was I still engaging my brain all day long in this activity that was taking me out of the experience of being with my wife and kid? Instead of just enjoying my time with them, I was observing myself enjoying my time with them, and commenting on it. Since I pretty much do that for a living, really, my vacation should have meant not doing that for two weeks, just living in the moment, letting the private moments stay private.

It's not like I'm having massive amounts of regret about it. And I did like that, say, my family back home could keep up with our exploits through my Twitter feed. But I think I want to work on my now-engrained habit of thinking "I should tweet that!" after every funny or memorable thing that ever happens to me. Sometimes, I think, I should just say to myself, "I should just enjoy this."


Tristessa said...

My early Tweets were all reviews. I'd review string, clouds, teens, or my personal favorite - ghosts. Then I joined the epic chat room like everyone else.

Most of my day is Tweet free. I still like it that way. But then, Tweeting from the US west coast, much of my activity is 10 PM PST, through midnight or 1 AM. Which means not many people seem to see it.

Come to think of it, maybe that's why I don't Tweet much. Perhaps I just need more west coast pals.

I like what you said about observing yourself enjoying your time with your reminds me of things I catch myself doing. Being a writer, I often have moments where I'm more prone to observe what's happening in my vicinity, rather than steeping in it myself.

djbriandamage said...

Between Twitter and all my RSS feeds I know how you feel - like I'm often spending too much time reading about current events rather than participating in them. I guess it's only a problem if you or your family feels it's a problem. I enjoy living vicariously through friends and people I admire, but I think I leave enough time for there here and now as well.

So do whatcha gotta do. I do enjoy your tweets and pix, though.

mhmason said...

It's eerie that you posted this today, because as of yesterday I'm taking a mental break from social networks for a lot of the reasons you just wrote about.

It's become a terrible habit of mine to not just look at life with that kind of filter, but to feel out of the loop if I'm not checking Twitter or Facebook.

So I made myself a promise not to go back until I'm able to tweet responsibly and not let the internet get in the way of life.

Ronald said...

The way people use Twitter reminds me of my Father on vacation with his new SLR. Everything had to stop if he wanted to take a picture. It annoyed the crap out of me. Newer tech like twitter has turned people into tourists of their own lives. Now everywhere there can be no there there.
I was at a drawing class with a locally famous artist and we were working from the figure that night. This woman and her boyfriend video blogged her experience interrupting the class and eventually forcing the model to explain to them the she was not being paid to have the whole world watch her nude. The rest of the class wanted to kill them. There was a long waiting list to take this man’s courses and here were this narcissistic idiots pissing in church. Every time I a follow a twitter I feel like I am enabling these asshats to dump on the zen of everyone they are near. Except when I follow Scott Sharkey. How much more harm could be done after all?

Stitched said...


I remember a certain GFW magazine editor saying the exact same thing about podcasting...and then you all grew to love it.

Speaking of podcasts, when's the next "Out of the Game"?

Jeff Green said...

Stitched; Haha. :) Well, I did say a few times in this post that I *do* love Twitter (obviously)! So I'm not bagging on it. I'm just thinking about the way it's turned me into a 24/7 correspondent of my own life. :)

Out of the Game: Just saw N'Gai last nite, and we agreed it was time for another! So hopefully soon...

Michael "Denatus" Åström said...

This blog post have more than 140 characters ;-)

Anonymous said...

Now you know how Ozzy felt after The Osbournes, Jeff!