The Twitter Bog

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20 April 2009

NY Times TV critic Virginia Heffernan has written a piece in the Times Sunday Magazine about Twitter — “the Twitter bog,” she calls it — that makes me exhale a little in relief.  Reading the article gave me a sense that Twitter might come and go as a must-do adult activity without my ever having participated, and that I might actually be the better for it.  Or at least not have missed much.   Click here to read the full article.

I’ve been reading about how effective Twitter can be for activist mobilization and other group engagement goals; and I don’t want to wholesale diss something of which I have little direct knowledge.  But I think often about what Annie Dillard says: How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.  Doesn’t even the word “twitter” imply that it’s an activity meant to be more peripheral than central in a life?  Does one really want to twitter one’s life away?  (I understand that celebrities now hire personal Twitterers — that, in fact, there are many people out there who Twitter all the day long.)

I was thinking recently — as pundits speculate on the nature of “Obamaism” as it evolves and unfolds here and abroad — that our fair President seems to be staking out a rather ambitious transformative vision for, yes, CHANGE: the core of which seems to be this idea that healthy capitalism need not equal excess.  That an economy and a society can be built on creating and consuming things, but not to the point of addiction.  I’m not sure if, in the midst of the myriad massive programs and initiatives the Obama administration rolls out daily, we are able to fully appreciate just how radical — how fundamental to everything that shapes how we live — a vision this is.  

So Twitter as an activity which is productive but not excessive, and not an addiction.  Such a simple notion and yet… the American sense of healthy proportion has really gone awry over the last few decades.  We’ve come to take for granted that when it comes to a good business idea, if it’s working, if people will pay for it, then make it BIG, make it OBSESSIVE.  

As always, God bless, and God help, Mr. Obama.

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