my adductors ache, film at 11

8/20/09

I’ve come to the following conclusion: I suck at Twitter. Transitively, I also suck at Facebook updates. I’m just not made for that kind of communication, even as much as I enjoy flitting through all of your 140-character missives to the world.

Here’s the thing: I have an irrational fear of being bored, and worse yet, being boring. I watched, in my formative years of friendless silence, how people would effortlessly tune out blowhards, know-it-alls and dudes who always have an opinion – and decided that I would try and be none of those things.

When in college, I deliberately never talked about myself on dates, choosing instead to pepper my would-be ladyfriend with enough questions to keep her talking all night. I’d save all my best lines for the Wednesday’s Child column I’d write on Tuesdays, and try to let them speak for themselves.

How I managed to do this – and still be such a dick – is fodder for a future blog, but I always understood the value of underspeaking, even if I wasn’t always able to hold myself back. The same goes for this blog, to a fault. I consider the “CODE WORD” questions to be shiftlessness on my part, and despite the great participation, I feel embarrassed to let you do my work for me. And so I say nothing on certain days, rather than hoist up something lame (which, in turn, flouts all the rules of Web Stickiness, but them’s the breaks).

And there’s the problem with Twitter and Facebook updates – in all honesty, I consider your microseconds valuable, and if I have something interesting to say, I’d rather do it here where I can explain it better, and you can comment at your leisure. I feel unbelievably goofy writing a Twitter update like this one, because I feel like there will be two reactions: “good god, that’s boring” and “well look at YOU, fancypants”.

Before any of you get self-conscious, realize that I read all your Twitter updates with genteel aplomb, even the amazing Peter Rukavina, who has raised microblogging to a Rococo art form. I totally dig on the “ambient social awareness” carnival ride, and my feelings are far from Luddite on this issue.

And god knows I’m not setting myself up as some kind of selfless Buddhist mystery, speaking only in riddles every other decade. A quick glance to the left will show how many years I’ve been doing this blog, indicating that my literary ego is chugging along quite insanely, thank you very much. But there’s something about the one-sentence update that… I don’t know, assumes too much?

0 thoughts on “my adductors ache, film at 11

  1. ken

    Brevity may be the soul of wit but like you Ian, I have a tough time keeping it short. I can keep my Facebook updates within reason but I refuse to use Twitter. I wrote about that earlier this summer: http://tinyurl.com/kntkxn
    I don’t know about you but I’ve seen a dip in visitors to my blog since Facebook became ubiquitous. Why read the long form material when you can get the Reader’s Digest version on Facebook? I still have a healthy community of visitors, especially with the few remaining people NOT on Facebook and I appreciate those who care enough to read and comment as I’m sure you do. I’m also troubled by the ephemeral nature of ‘tweets’, I like having a record of what I’ve written readily available.
    Long live the long form written word.

    Reply
  2. LFMD

    Funny you should mention this. Recently, I became self-conscious and basically sick of myself on Facebook. . . .I removed all of my previous posts. I thought, “why am I writing about being on vacation while I am on vacation instead of being fully engaged in my vacation?” Who cares if I was stung by a jellyfish?
    I admit though, that I love to read about everyone else’s minutiae! Love it! I read all my friends’ updates with as much interest as I read the weekly People magazine, and that says a lot.

    Reply
  3. CM

    “choosing instead to pepper my would-be ladyfriend with enough questions to keep her talking all night”
    You’ve figured out the secret of seduction! ;)
    Incidentally, I’ve always said that there are two lessons you learn as an adult: 1. That often it is better to keep your mouth shut, and 2. Don’t be jealous of anyone, no matter how perfect their life looks, because everyone has secret sorrows

    Reply
  4. Salem's Little Sister

    LFMD- I totally agree with every thing you said. I think that is why we are also reality show junkies. BTW, I cared that you were stung by a jelly fish and it made me remember the “Friends” episode which made me laugh. Not at your jelly fish sting, that made me sad.

    Reply
  5. Greg T.

    I think tweets (or FB updates) like “Lucy just asked why Morrissey doesn’t like Sundays” make it all worthwhile. It gives a little glimpse into your life that feels unfiltered and real. They are not a substitute for blog posts, but more of a way of connecting. I have friends that I haven’t seen or talked to in 10 years that I feel connected to now just because I see that they too are carting their kids around to soccer practice and music lessons.

    Reply
  6. Tammy O.

    I love Twitter, but I’m not surprised that it has something like a 60% abandonment rate. I think it’s best used as a professional tool, with a strategy. I use it to cultivate networks and friends in certain fields, to learn from people in those fields, and share great info, tips and links. I also use it to position myself online as a person who knows stuff in certain areas. Twitter has also introduced a lot more efficiency into my online reading. I used to try to read/review a stupidly huge number of blogs and sites to get information that I needed/wanted on a range of topics. Now, I choose people to follow on Twitter who curate the internet for me. I still read a small group of blogs on a regular basis, but I use my Twitter network to sort through what they’re reading for me. (Also, it’s nice to use it as an RSS feed for some blogs, too.) I know I sound all consultantee when I write this, but I also think using things like Twitter can be a game-changer for non-profits and small businesses, so I like to evangelize it when I can (and I totally believe in the power of building online community). I also have a strategy for how/what I tweet and what I retweet. (A feminist media strategist I know calls this “online social reputation grooming,” and I think that’s a pretty honest way to put it, even though I’m really committed to putting good stuff out there.)
    Facebook is mostly a social application for me, and I use it differently than Twitter (rarely post the same thing to both places). I think of FB as a friendly place to share some short observations on the world, keep up to date on the happenstances of near- and long-distance friends, and I am consistently surprised by the conversations that pop up in the comments section. Basically, I like to a.) share, and b.) hug people. Facebook feels like a way to do both online.
    That said, despite my love for microblogging, I’m planning on relaunching my blog (I started in 2003) because I miss that channel of communication.
    By now, I bet you’re wishing I had kept this comment to 140 characters.

    Reply
  7. josie

    I wouldn’t think of FB updates and tweets as interchangeable with anything. They are a new way to communicate, not a substitute for a current medium.
    FB is great for making a mockery of space and time. It’s comforting, kind of like a bowl of chili on a cold day. You can be isolated, going about your dreary routine, then you hop on and don’t feel so alone…or dreary. I don’t go there to be entertained, I go there for a little break and chatter (debate on whether this chatter is a natural evolution of communication or a travesty to the art of communication notwithstanding).
    Twitter’s ok; has unrealized potential. A little like talking to yourself though, unless you spend A LOT of time with it.
    Here’s a funny:
    http://Www.tweetingtoohard.com

    Reply
  8. Paul G

    Your tweet today looked a little funky, but I didn’t mind reading it for one second. And it actually took me about 30 b/c I was trying to decipher the secret genius message you hid inside it. ;-)
    On facebook, I respect people not wanting to read monotonous bullshit, which is the precise reason I started tweet-tweetin’! I ain’t got no remorse. Regret is as simple as a click on the “Unfollow” brick.
    Talk to you soon, everybody!

    Reply
  9. Salem

    You should just Tweet links to great content you are reading or find compelling. Kinda like an itunes celebrity playlist, with xtcian brainfood instead of music.
    What a thoughtful supplement that would be for those on the xtcian daily regimen.

    Reply
  10. josie

    Ok, so my point from above is; the FB update or Tweet should not be measured by the same yardstick as other forms of communication.
    I should never try to compose anything thoughtful on a blackberry (yet here I am).

    Reply
  11. Lisa

    I agree with one of your other commenters who likes how Twitter provides a kind of immediate and less filtered conversation that can be really good amongst people you care about and don’t see enough. But you are right, it does presume a sort of intimacy, different from blogging and sometimes it’s just a little icky or something, especially when you are following or being followed by a lot of people you don’t know or know well.
    I think the main value of it for me at this point though is less about keeping in touch with old friends, or social networking or exposing one’s cleverness or whatever, but more as a current awareness tool. For some reason feed aggregators never worked for me — I’d clog them up with too many blogs and be overwhelmed with things to read. In Twitter I follow a couple of news sources, some journalists, writers, artists and politicians I like, some book reviewers, a few interesting thinkers in my own field, and a few friends who like to read and write. Amongst all of their little tweets are generally a couple of articles each day worth reading. It’s like I’ve created my own (perhaps overly insular) salon/reading group of intelligent people who give me new things to discover all the time. I’m not sure though that I give back anything, which is maybe a problem. Anyway … that’s what’s working for me on Twitter. Facebook, not so much.

    Reply
  12. Anne

    Totally agree, Ian. I’m an early adopter of the Internet, the Web, and blogging, and while I do cop to posting stuff on my Facebook wall (but it’s GOOD stuff, I swear!!), Twitter is one step beyond my interest level and what I would hope my friends’ interest level in me is. So, no tweets here. I like the very versatile blog format — long or short; a pic and caption or a discourse; personal fun or ruminative stuff, or a rant or rave about broader topics. Blog on!

    Reply

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