On Twitter and The Moment.


My husband sent me a link to an interesting opinion piece in the New York Times, written in 2010, about Twitter and how it affects us and the way we interact with the world around us. There were many questions raised in the article. Raf was interested in the idea that Twitter, Facebook, and other social media encourages the commodification of self. My reading of the article touched on some thoughts I have had recently about social media: this idea that it takes us out of the present moment and causes us to experience that moment differently.

Orenstein makes an interesting observation that would seem to indicate that the act of tweeting a moment makes it clearer:

Distilling my personality provided surprising focus, making me feel stripped to my essence. It forced me, for instance, to pinpoint the dominant feeling as I sat outside with my daughter listening to E.B. White. Was it my joy at being a mother? Nostalgia for my own childhood summers? The pleasures of listening to the author’s quirky, underinflected voice? Each put a different spin on the occasion, of who I was within it.

However, she goes on to question that this distillation was less about her observation of the moment and more about how she wants others to react to her moment. Interesting thought. Do we  build a facade with each tweet or Facebook status update? I think we do. Some of us more than others. And we all build that facade in different ways. For example, I get a little bit irritated by my friends who post a laundry list of all of the fabulous things they did that weekend. Because of this I try to “be more authentic” in my updates by posting both the good and the bad. But I am just as guilty as anyone else because my carefully constructed facade is about me “wanting to appear more authentic” than those who want to “appear to have fabulous lives.”

Then there is this idea that social media takes us out of the present moment. It has been something I have thought about  a lot. The other day I was scanning my Instagram feed and saw a photo that a friend took of lunch out with a group of girlfriends. Two of her friends had their eyes glued to their smart phones. It made me think about myself and how often I do that very thing when I am hanging out with my own friends or my husband. Looking at this photo made me realize how this act of checking our phones to see what is happening on a website is kind of ridiculous. There is a person, a flesh and blood person,  standing in front of me, interacting with me and I am looking at a machine so that I can connect with other people who are elsewhere.

This is not to say that the friends I have made online are very important to me and the time that I spend interacting with them online is important to me, as well. I have had some of my favorite moments interacting with my friends online. Everyday I am amazed at the the world we live in and that I can have these interactions with people from all over the world. It’s pretty fantastic and great.

However, there has to be some kind of balance. I shouldn’t sacrifice the moments I have with those in front of me for moments I have with my friends online.

Exhausted museum vistors When I went to Paris I couldn’t figure out how to make my phone work overseas. It was very frustrating because this meant my GPS didn’t work either. We spent a few moments wandering the streets not really knowing where we were going (we found an old-school street map as soon as we could). In the end, however, I am very glad I was cut off from social media there, at least during the day (we had wi-fi access at our hotel). I was prevented from tweeting every single thought in my head. Instead I was riveted to every moment I experienced there. This was a new and faraway place and I am not sure I will ever be able to go back. I knew this while I was there and so I made the most out of all of it. Everything I did there was totally in the moment. I experienced the crap out of Paris. I remember everything with clarity. If my smart phone was working and tempting me to tweet these moments, would I still have this same clarity? I don’t think I would.

Google+: initial thoughts, reactions, and a rant.

Thoughts and Opinions
Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

I’ve been on Google+ now for a week and have some opinions about it.  I will refrain from posting anything about Google+ on Facebook and Twitter anymore because I kind of feel like there is lukewarm reception to it. However, I do have some opinions and since this is my little corner of the intertubes I thought I’d post them here in case anyone was interested in my opinion.

So far I really like it. I am liking it a billion times more than Facebook. I am not sure if I like it better than Twitter yet.

I will come clean and say that I hate Facebook. I hate it with a fiery passion and I’ve hated it for a very long time. I hate it’s CEO. He is everything I can’t stand in a human being and when I look at his picture I, seriously, want to punch him in the nose. But that’s kind of beside the point. I really have always very much disliked the lack of privacy on Facebook. And Facebook’s attitude is something like, “Privacy doesn’t exist. Deal with it.” I have always disliked that when you post something on Facebook everyone on your friends’ list sees it. Maybe I don’t want my Christian friends seeing my posts about Zen Buddhism, you know? Maybe I don’t want my conservative friends seeing my liberal rants. Maybe I just don’t feel like fighting that battle. Because of this I tend to censor myself on Facebook. And, I don’t know. Maybe that’s o.k. But it’s also kind of boring. I like to let it all hang out sometimes. I like to speak my mind. But I also don’t want to offend other people. So there’s always been that weird dichotomy over there.

There is also this weird “worlds colliding” feature of the Facebook social experiment that has always made me VERY uncomfortable. I don’t know why. But I’ve just never liked it at all. I like having my professional life separate from my personal life.  Call my crazy. I have set the privacy levels so that certain people can’t see my wall, but that isn’t ideal at all. First of all, it excludes people. I don’t like excluding people. Also there are times when I do want those that I’ve excluded to see what I post but there is no easy way to allow them to.

I’ve stayed on Facebook, and will continue to stay on Facebook, because my friends are there. My friends are what make it tolerable and I would really miss them if I jumped ship. (most of)The people on Facebook are awesome. Facebook as a company and social networking site sucks.

So now Google+ has come along and guess what? They address these issues! And it is awesome. It is a breath of fresh air for me. Seriously. I saw the initial video where they introduced the “circles” feature and I felt a huge weight lift off my shoulders. This is what I’ve wanted from Facebook all along. For awhile I thought FB was going to do this because there is the ability to sort your friends into lists. But the process is so clunky and useless and unusable.

Circles are awesome. Very easy to use. Friends can belong to more than one circle, which is nice. For example, I have a “knitting” circle and a “library world” circle and a few of my friends belong to both as they are both knitters and librarians. I have a “friends” circle where I can post  personal stuff that the rest of the world could care less about.  I can post photos and updates about my knitting projects to my knitting circle and none of my other circles will see the updates.  I can also filter my stream so that I see only the circles I choose which makes the reading experience so much better. I don’t feel like I have to censor myself anymore because I get to choose who reads what updates. AND I get to choose what I read at any given time.

The one complaint that I have with circles is that I wish people would use them more effectively. I have quite a few connections on Google+ now and most of them are people I don’t know. I got hooked into the children’s literature world  which I’m very exicted about as a children’s librarian. It will be a good way to keep up with stuff going on in that industry. However, it is a very tight-knit online community and they are very freindly with each other (kind of like the online knitting community is). Some of my connections post personal things to all of their circles, thinking that everyone that follows them would be interested. However these personal posts really need be relegated to thier “friends” circle to keep from cluttering up the streams of those who are more interested in professional development.

This is a long post. And I kind of have more to say about it. I think I’ll cut it short for now and continue this on another day. There is lots more to say!

What’s going on

Matthew Broderick Sarah Jessica Parker Shankbo...

Image by david_shankbone via Flickr

A judge temporarily halts publication on a followup to Catcher in the Rye. Interesting.

A pilot dies while flying a plane from Belgium to New Jersey!

It is interesting to see the protesting in Iran in our Web 2.0 global world.

Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick have twins! Via a surrogate!

Ed MacMahon died. This makes me a little bit sad.

Another really sad event: the deadly D.C. Metro crash on Monday.

JK Rowing is being charged with plagiarism. ugh.

A teenager dies in the tubd, electrocuted. She tried to Twitter from her bathtub.

This story breaks my heart. It’s one thing to read about what is happening in Iran. It’s another thing to put a face on it. It really amplifies the situation.

What’s going on

Sherman Alexie at the Texas Book Festival, Aus...

Image via Wikipedia

A Plane disappears over the Atlantic Ocean. How frightening!

I found this article fascinating. It ask, “what is a city trying to tell you?” I’ve often wondered that about the various cities I’ve lived in. I wonder that about Spokane all the time. I have definate feelings about living here but am not sure what the city, as a whole, is trying to say. It sounds crazy, but I do believe there is a collective “voice” happening.

Oh how I was jealous of all of the bloggers and twitter users who went to the Book Expo.

Speaking of that, I found this blog post interesting at Amazon’s Omnivoracious. The mentioned that Sherman Alexie‘s comment on a panel in which he described Amazon’s Kindle as elitist and that he wouldn’t allow his books to be digitized for it.