Wednesday, December 03, 2008

on Twitter

I've been thinking about the medium of Twitter recently and this post on Jollyblogger got me thinking even more. Some folks are criticizing Twitter as the quintessential narcissistic tool, and I can certainly see the point there. Twitter can be just one more way to draw attention to the minute, insignificant details of my life, since the universe ceases to exist when I fall asleep and begins anew when I regain consciousness. I think that there are a couple of good things about Twitter. As to my existing friendships, sometimes there is nothing that seems email worthy to write to them, despite the fact that I value their friendship and love them. I do have a very strong desire to reclaim the art of the handwritten letter, but that's a different post entirely. For these friendships, the psychological benefit for me of Twitter is that it moves my friends out of the abstract and into the present, despite a separation by place. Especially when my friends tell me that they are thinking about something, they don't have to even tell me what they conclude, it provides me with data about their experience. I know that my friends exist, but I have to project on them thoughts and feelings, and especially if I haven't seen them in a while, this is generated by my previous experience of them, with little new data. I think a phrase like, "getting the kids out of the bath" does more to keep my connected to a friend than a thousand email forwards or even an abstractly written theological/philosophical exchange.

I agree with the Jollyblogger that the building blocks of relationships are the small phrases of everyday enjoyment uttered from one friend to the other. I think that reciprocity is the key here, though. I try to use my "@"s and "d"s regularly with all of my friends, because something as short as "that's neat" or "I wish I had some hot chocolate right now as well" goes a long way to building the relationship on both sides. Yeah, Twitter is probably a symptom of our ever-decreasing social attention span, but I rather like it.