I’ve noticed some shift in my online networks: Facebook status updates seem less frequent, Twitter is definitely up. The latter’s no doubt connected to the slightly-larger number of people I follow. So the nature of those connections seems to be shifting, which I’m sorry about.
On a separate neural path, yesterday I twice used this quote from P. G. Wodehouse — it’s one of those sly lines he slips to Bertie Wooster:
Jeeves was in the other room, hanging holly,
for Christmas would soon be at our throats.
I’m not feeling quite like that, though I often feel anxious and conflicted this time of year. Still, I have been thinking that in themselves, networks like Facebook and Twitter are pretty useless when you’re not firing on at least five out of six cylinders.
That’s especially true if, like me, you tend at times to feel as though you’re just holding on, or if you’re prone to hold back things that you judge as negative. I certainly wouldn’t post most dumb things I do: there’s a difference between a learning experience and “there he goes again.”
Tony Karrer fortuitously posted today on holding back. I’d already had in mind to write a post like this; reading what he’s written just nudged me into action. So I guess I’d been holding out for even unintended encouragement.
The Unitartian Jihad manifesto says, “Just because you believe it’s true doesn’t make it true. Just because your motives are pure doesn’t mean you are not doing harm.” I think that in a similar vein, at least for me, it’s a bad idea to express every thought that ambles across your mind.
Tony quotes Clive Shepherd as saying that maybe when you get a wide blog readership, you have to think more about what you say. My own take? I have no worries about wide readership, but I try to think about what I say. The internet’s very bad at forgetting.
I might talk with someone face-to-face about a personal dilemma, or what I see as one of my shortcomings. (Not often, no, but likelier that way than any other.) I’m maybe one-tenth as likely to do the same via private email, even with someone I share enough history with to have built up mutual trust.
I don’t see Twitter as a vehicle for that, ever — it’s hard to be clear about anything complex in 140 characters. And I’m dubious about Facebook; I’ve done direct messages a few times, but it feels like a note left on someone’s keyboard.
I realize Facebook and Twitter aren’t really meant to help you hold on in times of stress, except for the socially-acceptable, work-and-friends, man-am-I-stressed kinds of stuff. So this isn’t a criticism of web 2.0 (heaven forfend). It’s just musing on a likely need that’s perhaps harder to cope with when all your colleagues are in different time zones.
Photo by marrngtn (Manuel).