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."