Monday, August 2, 2010

Blogging, tweeting and such

Tweets are being saved by the Library of Congress, as I noted in the previous post. I don't tweet, don't do Facebook or any of those others but, obviously, I blog. As I ate breakfast I read Peggy Orenstein's essay in yesterday's NYTimes Magazine, "I Tweet, Therefore I Am." As I think about what her essay I believe blogging is, at least for those of us who blog no more than once a day, and often much less regularly, a different experience than tweeting.

Orenstein emphasizes a an outward thrust of persona, a pervasive self-consciousness about what one is experiencing, even in relaxed and maybe intimate moments, crafting one's sense of what's happening into a few brief words to be shared with the anyone who reads Twitter. For instance she was listening to a recorded reading of "The Trumpet of the Swan" with her daughter and forming in her mind the 140 character tweet she could post about the experience. How many people externalize that kind of moment [is this quality time with your daughter ?] into a comment? I think most just live those moments. Although, as someone who's written all my life, with a trunk full of journals stashed away, I know that some of us have a habit of regularly putting our experiences, even very mundane ones, into words with a feeling that we are more watchers than actors. Knowing this is how my mind works, I've always thought it odd -- and I've known very few other people who do this ... although it now sounds like it's becoming much more usual.

I've always thought of blogging as being akin to journalistic reportage, though mostly more personal and usually of lesser importance. For me it's a chance to shape small insights, or experiences in order to share them with a few others who may say ho-hum, or may have a small new piece of information or insight -- just as they read, or used to read, papers and magazines.

If Orenstein is correct and millions of people [especially young people] are constantly self-aware, and, at least part of the time fabricating to seem different [more interesting] than they are, then, as she hints, something important is happening psychically. I partly hope for at least a small backlash of people turning to meditation, quiet time, a respite from constant thinking of self to think only of breathing or a mantra or a candle flame. An internal life seems necessary to me, areas of privacy that we will share only with those closest to us or perhaps forge into poetry or other writing or musical composition, art. It's a big subject and I have only begun thinking about it.

As with much else read in American traditional media, most of it talks to and about a small percentage of the population -- never mind the huge numbers of users these virtual media claim, much greater numbers of people do not fit into these categories. They are not simply slow adapters, many have neither the means nor the impulse to be a part of this so-called technological revolution.


Kass said...

I also find this subject fascinating. I think whether or not someone tweets or blogs, there is an internal dialogue going on most of the time. Sociologists tell us that we have an imagined audience to whom we report or, in the least, try to make sense of our actions and inclinations. Bringing our thoughts and intentions to the forefront in any form and 'putting them out there' is an exercise of civility, clarification and especially maturity when we realize that how we are perceived by others makes no difference to our essential truths.

Jonas said...

My gut reaction was decidedly darker.

I'm not sure that young people are more "self aware" than adolescents ever were. Self-absorption is a more apt term. Awareness takes lots more time and effort.

I confess I don't get the whole "social-networking" phenomenon. I think of it as a shallow substitute for true interaction/community. I grew up in a gritty urban environment that overflowed with people/community. Everybody knew everybody. But we, as a society, fled from that to suburban insularity. We long for "community" but we isolate ourselves from true physical interactions. I don't get it.

June Calender said...

Your very positive attitude Kass, is what I'd like to believe but I think it's about educated people who have artistic temperaments. Lots of people NEVER get the wisdom/maturity of understanding others' perceptions are not important.

Jonas I think adolescents and teens are just as self-concerned as always but those who tweeet may be thinking a little more about what others will think of them.

I think the article I read mainly meant adults who tweet - a kind of self objectification that is a new phenomenon.


Excellent thought provoking post. Are the worlds of the young and the old becoming further apart due to this techno revolution? Or are they on the same page only projecting it differently -- same internals only played out differently externally?-- barbara


Also -- great comments by Kass and Jonas -- more food for thought -- barbara