Friday, February 27, 2009

Twitter Too? No, Dorothy, Twitter Stays in the Basket.

"Twitter? What the hell is Twitter? I can barely keep up with email, Google chat, Facebook, my own blog site and answering my cell phone. I've even figured out how to reply to an SMS (Israeli text message)," I commented on a Friend's invitation to follow him on Twitter, which he posted on my Facebook Wall. "Oh wait," I quickly wrote in a second comment, "I forgot about You Tube, eBay and leaving feedback on Amazon for all my used book suppliers. There's also my Yahoo account and the two (or was it three?) groups I belong to there. I've accepted two invitations to join Linkedin despite the fact that I'm a disabled retiree with no hope of going back to work and no intention of trying to start my own business. And let's not forget about Kodak Gallery, Snapfish and Jeremy the Wedding Photographer's site. And now Twitter? What the hell is Twitter?"

"Best description: Twitter is the world in 140 characters or less. Fewer, actually," Les, a friend for years before he became my Friend, patiently explained. "I'll give it this," I shot back, "at 140 characters or less it matches most people's attention spans and may be good for those of us with burned out short term memory circuits. What were we talking about?"

Les makes his living on the internet so, for him, services like Twitter are a useful, practical, business tool. For me, its just another excuse not to finish the drafts of three blog posts that are becoming less timely with every passing login. Every writer has a process. Every writer has a ritual for walking away from the keyboard and clearing his or her head. A journalist I know cures his mid-week blues by breaking into my house and having too much fun going through my mail. This would be disturbing except his process enables me to live in Tel Aviv for four months. But my current blockage has gotten so bad that I'm reduced to ripping off my Facebook posts to create this blog post which will, in turn, be electronically sucked into my Facebook Notes and then Blogcast out into the ether. A week or two ago, I would not have had a clue what that last sentence meant or how to make it happen. This is scary. Like the time I realized that I knew more about IRAs than any normal human being needed to know. Its that kind of scary.

Please don't misunderstand. I find it charming that I can sit in the Middle East and communicate with an old friend who writes screenplays from his house with a view of the Hollywood sign in LA or a new friend who raises red earthworms on her farm near Gnaw Bone, Indiana. But I fear that my degree of digital distraction is getting out of hand. So, I'm going to pass up the opportunity to join Twitter, despite being certain that, any day now, there will be a Twitter which reveals, in 140 characters or less, G-d's plan for her creation, followed by a Twittered reply giving the day on which the market will hit the real bottom. Instead, I'll wait for Intel or the NSA to install the chip in my medulla oblongata through which I can not only speak to my friends but turn on the microwave, do my laundry, file my tax returns, adjust my pacemaker and jump at will between the so-called real world and virtual reality. While I'm waiting for the techies to show up, I'll finish the latest William Gibson novel. Or maybe I'll just post this blog and go to sleep. Its a plan.

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