Stop Twittering

March 15, 2007

I’m watching the world go mad Twittering. (And I’m watching the passion it arouses when you offer a different view. Call me a luddite but I don’t get it. I get it in the sense that it’s a new fangled gadget and it’s all shiny and out of the box but do we really need more “instant” communication tools? Lisa has an interesting post about the high cost of communicating

If your department budget was charged $100 for every minute you spent communicating, would you choose your words more wisely? It is likely that the costs are that high or higher.

There’s a huge tyranny to this not only in terms of actual financial cost but in terms of the personal. I have a cell phone – not a blackberry. I simply don’t want to be that available all the time. “Turn the thing off” I hear you say – yes, but if you have a blackberry (and now a Twitter account) and even a cell phone you create the expectation of availability and it’s the expectation that creates a difficulty around saying “no”.
What are we teaching our clients and colleagues? We’re teaching them that there are no more boundaries. Instant availability, instant access, instant blurring and instant gratification. It’s not possible to meet anybody else’s needs to that extent – we will wear ourselves out, increase stress and erode the ability to care about others. Saying “no” is a fundamental boundary setting exercise if not done appropriately leads to an inability to manage our wants and desires.
All this elecronic communication is an avoidance of real intimacy. Sending out group emails, arranging social lives by text, reporting in live time about that social life via Twitter none of it is about being in the moment with the person with whom you are with. Reading a text message online about what someone with whom you have a casual relationship is doing right now is voyeuristic and it’s playing to an audience that’s not there – it’s not a genuine relationship based on giving and receiving. If it’s that important – pick up the phone and have a real conversation with somebody. Arrange to meet for a coffee or a chat – are you really in touch if you have to use a keyboard as an interface? What am I doing? Why not take a risk and call me to find out?
Edit: Kathy Sierra has a superb post on this issue over at Creating Passionate Users

3 People reacted on this

  1. I’m not sure that too many people are calling Twittering a relationship. I don’t tweat or twitterbate with anyone I’m physically able to sit and have a coffee with (otherwise that’s what I’d be doing). I can’t have coffee with Leisa, James or Luis in meatspace, but I can keep up with their watercooler chatter via Twitter. I even had a real phone conversation with James last night … but I still checked his Twitters this morning. It’s not a replacement for relationships – it’s an extension of them.
    As for always being available … anything can be switched off, and it’s up to us to have the discipline to do so. That’s probably harder to do when it’s all new, but we’ll learn.

  2. Annette, I’m right there with you. Earlier in the week, I did a bit of ranting of my own (read here). I’m only sorry to see Johnnie succumb to the mania.
    The true magic of this interactive medium comes when you are able to build relationships with folks you may not normally have had a chance to. But the dark side of the web seems to be the ability to do the opposite: experience others in only the most shallow of ways. Who knows…maybe Twitter has the ability to turn a shallow acquaintance into a deep friendship. Or maybe that’s asking to much?
    Or, as one of my friends has noted, maybe I’m just one of those cranky old gen x’ers.

  3. Chris and Ric – I know, I know ignore it (and I do for the most part) but it’s not about Twitter as I mentioned above it’s about the expectation of being available all the time…I fantasise about throwing away my mobile phone and why is it that a day with my books, phone on answering service, computer closed, is rapidly turning into the most interesting and intimate space available? I’m happy being a luddite sometimes

Comments are closed.