The Zen of Twitter

There was much buzz today about the Twitter / Facebook relationship after @ev’s talk at the Churchill Club last night in San Francisco. But in the wee hours, my particular Twitter moments were a bit quieter. Maybe just a bit.

I had a passing fantasy sometime between the insomniac hours of 3a and 5a today (which I passed largely by catching up on the Twitter stream of my friends and colleagues from “Old Europe” — thanks @yojibee, @oliver, @jamesfarrar and others for the company!) that Twitter – particularly via its direct-message functionality, could eventually become my only email interface. Then it would be “goodbye” to my perennially heavy inbox and the respective perennial bad feelings at not responding as I should — a burden lifted, a liability reduced.

Because in the Twitter-as-Inbox world, messages just fleet by, and only what is happening in the moment matters. Direct message queue? Irrelevant — plus, 140-character-dispatches are much easier to respond to than the typical heavy tome that I myself tend to compose. Anything important flit by yesterday or last week in one of the countless unread tweets? No worries — If it’s important enough, it would be retweeted.

Only the moment matters. Peace is every step. What a gift it would be! I could concentrate on my breathing. “Breathing in, I calm my body. Breathing out, I smile.”

But then again, it would have been nice to be sleeping. Or maybe cleaning out my email inbox.

ps: and hardly the first to coin that phrase!

5 thoughts on “The Zen of Twitter

  1. I have noticed that since I joined Twitter and Facebook I hardly receive any emails from friends anymore. They all send me dms on twitter or short messages on Facebook.
    Eventhough Facebook allows long messages, people tend to keep it short.
    A change I – and my inbox – have welcomed

  2. Can’t make up my mind whether twitter is the answer or an additional burden. I need to learn to live in the mo on twitter but somehow I can’t stop myself reading the entrails in case there were some interesting tweets and links I missed. I’m information greedy I guess. Need to learn to focus the follow. But I do love th 140 chrctr brevity … that is so good. Maybe the best answer for email then is 140 word limit. Anything shorter to twitter. Anything longer to wiki.

  3. Oh! I so disagree. Over Thanksgiving dinner the group was discussing the lost art of letter writing and the space for deep reflection that created. That survives in some respect with e-mail, because I think people do continue to do that kind of deep reflection in the long e-mails the rest of you so dislike. If e-mail disappears and is replaced with short Twitters… goodbye reflection, hello soundbite culture!

  4. One proviso — people who Blog, like Moya’s lovely blog here, will continue to have that reflection, and there is exchange with others in the comments section. All of that is terrific. But the number of people who blog or read and comment on blogs is a lot smaller than those who use e-mail. Also, e-mails allow for a kind of intimate exchange that would not be appropriate on a blog. Frankly, I think my relationship with Moya deepened dramatically through long e-mail exchanges about music and related reflections on life. I think there is no way that would have happened if our online relationship was primarily conducted through Twitter, or even Facebook. That is a sad thought. (Of course, ideally those exchanges could happen face to face, but the realities of day to day craziness being what they are…)

  5. Voomer – James – and Anne! thanks for the visits and the comments.

    I hardly dislike the long emails — quite the contrary — but I feel terrible when I can no longer keep up with them all with the attention they deserve. I don’t want to become a fragment in the attention economy, but the longer stuff just isn’t working in my email inbox anymore and it’s a “damned if i do/don’t” game.

    Also I marvel, Voomer, at just the fact that you were -discussing- around the table as well. That’s the best part. I think Twitter has the potential for disrupting email in a major way – perhaps because we will no longer try to keep up in series of closed threads, but shall post pointers *from* our short collective streams *to* where the connection is continuing to happen — in face-to-face meetings, at the dinner table, in these blog posts…

    thanks again for the thoughts.

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