Recently I’ve been experiencing a bit of mental overload when it comes to things that require my constant attention – or those that strongly encourage it. Twitter is one of those things. It’s not enough that I have sugar-bomb MMOs leading me around on a leash in my late thirties; I’ve got a torrent of information coming to me every time I click on the little white-on-blue bird on my iPhone. (Shush. I didn’t get to pick the phone.)
I like everyone I follow on Twitter, so it’s not the people. Well, sometimes it is. OK, it’s the people. Those who tend to send out a constant stream of tweets about silly things I tend to not follow. #sorrynotsorry, as the hashtag goes. I don’t mind looking at what you ate for dinner (especially if it’s tasty) or seeing screenshots of the latest thing you did in your favorite game. I don’t mind interesting things at all.
It’s when messages are broadcast in non-stop, asynchronous streams that it becomes problematic for me. I’ve recently reduced the number of people I’m following on Twitter by 25%. I found that the volume of stuff that I am encouraged to attend to has gone down, but there’s still a significant amount of life being lived and shared with others. It’s simply too much brain-weight for me to sift through all of it on an hourly basis. Ultimately, I think it’s a matter of information reception preference: I would much rather read through a comprehensive summary of someone’s day or week every so often (e.g. not hourly) as opposed to receiving constant lifestream micro-updates. Think of it as a sports “highlight” reel.
Why not just stop checking Twitter so often? Because then I spend a huge chunk of time having to filter through the mountain of messages that have piled up in the meantime. Even when followers are limited to friends and people who write about games and things you are genuinely interested in (and most of their tweets reflect this) and people who work on games that you like, the volume of signal becomes so high that it might as well be noise.
My natural response is to simply shut down and disconnect, which I am sorely tempted to do. If I were to do that, though, I’d miss out on some of the really neat stuff that only happens on Twitter – which is buried in a mountain of other things. This really neat stuff leads to a lot of fascinating and informative discoveries and it would be a shame if I were to forgo those things for the sake of reducing mental clutter. I’ve also come to understand that some people read blog posts via Twitter messages rather than using a blog reader. Unlinking myself from this service would then deprive me of the opportunity to spam as many people as possible with my words.
Might not be such a bad thing.
Others have written about this before, and I’ve read about it. It’s just never struck me until now exactly how much of my time is consumed by micro-checking micro-updates rather than being present in the present and taking time later when things aren’t happening to sit down with a cup of coffee and read all of the things. Preferably after those things have been organized. If there’s one thing I can really appreciate after a little over a year of blogging, it’s that organizing one’s thoughts in a presentable manner for others is crucial in crafting a quality message. Twitter is like a giant bin with the individual sentences of a novel written down on index cards and thrown in at random.