It has been almost 2 months since I last wrote here. There are a lot of reasons for that, many to do with overwhelm and a strange sense of dissatisfaction with what I was producing. I talked a little bit about why I hadn’t been keeping my book blog up to date here and some of the sentiments are just as applicable on this blog. Mediocrity annoys me, particularly my own, and although I can be highly critical of myself, I am feeling more and more like I want to slow down a little and think about what I write rather than just throw anything out there for the world to see.
I was really struck by a post I read this morning on TechCrunch by Paul Carr, as I related to it completely. Paul has closed down all of his social media accounts. This was in response to his recent discovery that while he has been spending all of his time firing out 140 character messages and status updates, he has neglected his blog completely (sound familiar?) and when he was hunting back for records of past experiences for his writing, he realised with surprise that actually he didn’t have any. Most of his Twitter updates were obscure, not really thought out and necessarily brief. It is something I have felt about Twitter for a long time.
One of the comments posted to this article elucidates this further. ParkerWest wrote
It is my personal belief that Twitter will fail almost quickly as it became popular. The reason I believe this is mirrored by your statement that no one actually reads tweets, much less cares about them. It’s simply a sounding board, a podium to a room full people standing at podiums, all spewing meaningless 140 character “pay attention to me’s.”
How true his prediction is, I don’t know, but I do agree that there has been a disturbing but inevitable move towards obscure and irrelevant narcissism in Twitter. Furthermore, as people are realising how simple it is to use Twitter and how little contemplation is required to write a Tweet (or a status update), they are spending more time there, and less recording and thinking, processing and evaluating.
I have said it before in this blog but the one thing in the world that gives me the greatest pleasure is to sit down quietly and read a well planned, well edited and well thought-out book or essay. To create these kind of works, authors need to have gathered information and dug back through histories, archives, letters, diaries, notes, thoughts, stories or writings. If what Paul says is becoming more common (and I have no reason to believe that it isn’t from what I can see on the internet) then this kind of writing will become old-fashioned and the rich resources which were drawn on will diminish.
Doomsday predictions? Perhaps. I think there is place for short, 140 or whatever character updates to get conversation going, post an alert or give a snippet of information. But if that becomes the norm to the detriment of more extensive production then I think the world will be a much, much poorer place.