Twitter has been bugging me for some time now. No, not the single-digit uptime. No, not the constant “Down for Updates” notices. No, not the slow unresponsive website and throttled API.
I just realized that Twitter is actually dangerous. Harmful. Damaging.
It has changed the way that I think, but not for the better. I find I am thinking more superficially when I’m active in Twitter. I think in shorter 140 character bursts. With little to no depth.
Now, Twitter is a really amazing environment – it’s been by FAR the most powerful social amplifier I’ve used. I’ve felt closer to the people that I care about online because I’ve been let in to their every day lives, just as they have been let into mine.
Although the things that get posted to Twitter are mostly banal and boring details of every day life, that is one of the things that makes it so addictive. So powerful. It’s not a “content managing system”, nor is it “publishing” – it’s a way to reinforce a personal connection. Every time I read an update by someone that I care about, I think about that person – if only for a second – and my sense of connection is strengthened.
But, I fear that the strengthened social connections are not worth the cost borne in superficial thinking. Being more closely connected is an extremely valuable thing – and Twitter is somehow able to make my connections to people online feel almost tangible, almost real – but not at the cost of shallow thinking.
When I catch myself offline, in the mountains with my family, wondering what people are posting to Twitter, and how I would describe what I’m doing in 140 characters, it’s become damaging. Distracting. Dangerous.
I’m not going to sign off of Twitter. I am going to try to experience it differently. Without the Twitter Tab constantly open and refreshed. Without any Twitter apps on my iPod. I don’t want to lose the sense of connectedness, but I need to repair and restore my ability to think more deeply.