I don’t tweet.
This is both a confession and a mantra. Of course, like most people these days, my main medium of communication is email. I send everything over the Internet to get it where it needs to go. I upload pics to Flickr and show slideshows of upcoming projects to my classes. I keep in touch with friends across the country via Facebook, and I like to read so many different websites that my bookmarks have bookmarks. I just don’t tweet.
Which isn’t to say I’m a Luddite. I work all day, most days, and use an iPhone and laptop more than I use a pen. A serious blogger, I’ve kept afloat online with poems, articles, rants and anecdotes alike. But there are so many things that are done electronically in my life that I just can’t seem to commit to following one more thing. Maintaining a Twitter account that needs frequent updating seems overwhelming to me.
Perhaps the hesitation comes from not wanting yet another means of electronic communication. I’ve always been a person who enjoys conversation in person much more than talking on the phone. Given the choice, I would rather chat briefly over the phone than boot up a computer just to email someone a “quick question”.
Or maybe it stems from the potential loss of clarity. While working in publishing, there were snarky emails aplenty from authors, agents, and a bevy of coworkers that were completely misunderstood. And now, working in higher education, people often tend to avoid paper trails by ignoring emails completely. Maybe, just maybe, this is why I hesitate.
To be sure, paper has its place. Looking around my home I still see shelves and shelves of paper friends with inky delights to share whatever my mood may be. A creepy story for a gloomy afternoon, tale of a torrid affair while my male counterpart is on a business trip, a picture book of fairies for when the kids visit and are tired out from a playground day: we have it all. No matter how many gadgets I accumulate, I won’t be tossing my hardcover friends, their softcover brothers, or any of the many sniffable pages that have comforted me in times of need. But I also rationalize things that I never thought I would: using my iPhone as an iPod in the gym and occasionally checking online for something while spinning or ellipticizing. How did that happen?
So there is a dilemma of sorts when it comes to tweeting, and for me I think there always will be. What if it ends up being just another time-suck akin to peeking at Gmail while writing and opening Facebook and see so and so and their new baby? These are daily conundrums we all face…don’t we? But as Twitter becomes more prevalent, I do see some uses that could really entice me.
Here is a big one. I saw an article in the NY Times about a book club that meets on Twitter. No I’m not kidding. It’s called 1book140 and it spans the globe with almost sixty-five thousand members. They choose a genre and vote on books, they discuss by chapter without spoiling the endings and they talk way more than an in person book club would. Seems like an innovation that would appeal to many, including myself perhaps, and it’s both accessible and fun.
Having participated in online book clubs, and being an online instructor (as well as doing both in person) I see the convenience and instantaneous nature of it all, and I think it’s great. I also like the idea that I could follow an author and learn about signings and events where they may appear. Hell I just downloaded a mobile App for Book Expo America and will be planning my agenda with it shortly. The novelty of instant access is not lost on me. The main question I struggle with is simple: What happens when I’m reading tweets and I miss my favorite author walking right by me on 5th Avenue?
There seem to be more and more people with their eyes glued to iPads as they stumble into midtown traffic without a glance to see if the light is green. At the gym I see furrowed brows on bikes as people key in their responses to texts, emails, posts, tweets…it’s all exhausting to watch. I can only imagine how it feels to be that rapid communicator who is not focused and misses the things around them as life floats on by. Don’t get me wrong, I relish sweating to pounding bass as I run and I enjoy hearing meditations on the train; but I don’t want to think about work or celebrity scandal while I’m in the midst of either!
I’m sure as time goes on and I get busier and time for reading shrinks due to over-scheduled piles of life-stuff I will eventually give in and get a handle on my tweeting situation. Marketing and promotions are, after all, best received in short bursts. As a professor I see firsthand how short attention spans have become…but I tend to enjoy slowing down and embracing my books. Visual learning, short bursts of bright and shiny things; I get it–I really do—but for now my life is a tweet-free zone, and until that bird wins me over, I won’t be smooshed by a cab or fall off a treadmill…that is, unless Toni Morrison shows up at my gym.