Did you see that thing? The one with the chick who resigned from her job via some whiteboard messages. Man that was cool. Saw it on Twitter, went to Chive.com (where?) Talked about it in the office, sent it onto some friends via MSN. They came back to tell me they were already fans of the Facebook page.
It’ll enjoy a long half-life among the people who don’t follow these things that closely so it will roll around in an email from some Auntie or other every 6 months and then I’ll forward a link on to the relevant Snopes page (not yet in existence, but it will be soon). It competed for my attention with a story about some torrent site buying a Russian village for a while and now it’s just more crumbs that will never shake out of the bottom of my mental toaster.
On an evening, I will sit conversing with my wife, laptop on standby, scrolling through the news, a dozen sites that I follow on a dozen tabs, checking anything that is said on TV – following every impulse or random thought and then getting lost in a blizzard of unrelated Wikipedia pages… Facebook messages and texts coming through on my phone, MSN blinking quietly in the corner.
And I’m probably the office technophobe.
I’ve never been more connected to more information. But to what end? Isn’t information supposed to enrich our lives – increase our understanding of things – help us to make better decisions? The mental space and energy I devoted to that hoax (including writing this blog post) has done none of those things. I’m just aware of yet another fucking thing.
How do you turn this stuff off? I probably can’t. I hate Twitter. But then again, I love Facebook. I feel compelled to share every disaster on my blog and check incessantly to see if anyone has left a comment or something I can argue with – because I know how to a find an Equal-But-Opposite expert to quote on almost any subject you care to name.
Realistically, I can’t draw a line – none of us can. It’s inescapable. But I am quitting Twitter. I’ve hated it from the get-go, but despite that I’ve found it drawing me in. Making me more a part of a real-time world that I think is actually deleterious to my life. I’ll still have Google News and the BBC and I’ll still be on IM receiving bit.ly links to stuff that’s happening right now but at least one small avenue of distraction will be closed.
It’s one small step on the road. Somehow, I’ve found myself aiming to know something about everything rather than knowing everything about something.