Here are some random thoughts from the first week of my social media timeout:
- In the lead up to this, it was suggested that I would have a hard time saying away from Twitter et al. It is not hard, it is very easy. I’m wondering now if I ever really want to come back. I do find that is taking a long time to get rid of the twitchy feeling that comes from frequent checking of new tweets. I often feel like I’m forgetting something. When I realize it is Twitter, I’m always relieved.
- Today at lunch I was reading from Jaron Lanier’s You Are Not a Gadget. I was in the part of Chapter 3 where he discussed Facebook and Twitter and the potential for redefining in a reductive way what social relationships mean to us. I personally find a lot of resonance in this notion. Some of my Twitter and Facebook friends are people I love dearly and some are people I have met once at a party. The fact that this nuance disappears is a weakness of the system and as Lanier points out over and over again, it disappears because it isn’t important to the people who build and design these things.
- I used to dread making phone calls and now I find that I’d much rather call than send a Twitter direct message. I’m thinking my primary use for FB and Twitter might become remaining connected enough to use them to keep up with mailing addresses and phone numbers.
There is more, but I think the other big insight needs its own post.
I have purchased a few books on my Kindle recently that I’m going to read during my “social media vacation.” Like almost every Kindle purchase I’ve ever made both of these were impulse buys. I still need to write up my big post about how big publishers are completely missing the impulse buy potential of the ebook platforms but that is for a later time.
It wasn’t intentional but both of these books are consistent with the theme of slowing down social media, stepping back, focusing more on creative output. The first is Jaron Laneir’s book You Are Not a Gadget. I’m a few chapters in to this one and it is exactly what I was already thinking about, an examination of what the effects of adapting humanity to their machines can do to us. Not only am I stepping back but at the same time I am completely and totally perplexed by the iPad fever of people I know. I’m reading this book with an eye to understand what is it we are trying to gain as we search around these technological spaces.
The other book is Jeff VanderMeer’s book Booklife. It was recommended by Mur Lafferty at last week’s CREATE South and so I impulse bought it and will check it out. I met Jeff 15 years ago when he was riding along to the WREK studios on a day when I interviewed his now wife Ann for Reality Break. He’s a great guy and a great writer so I have no doubt reading this book will be a mystically introspective experience. More about it later after I’ve read it. Dobbs help me, I hope it straightens me out a little in my creative life.
PS – before those who want to hoist me on the irony petard about reading You are Not a Gadget on the Kindle, the thing I like best about the Kindle is that it is the anti-gadget piece of consumer electronics. I keep reading reviews saying the iPad will take over as the book reader because it is so much sexier than the Kindle. I like the Kindle because it is not sexy! I use it to read books, and nothing much besides. That is a selling point. I want less distraction, less flashiness. It’s a boring little thing that does one job well and that’s why I use it.