6.09.2011

This is your life, and it's ending 140 characters at a time

OK, so I am not going to write about the latest poli-sex scandal du jour.

Keep private things private, eh? 
Last week, however, I attended a presentation in the big city of Burlington on the topic of creating compelling content for online consumption, based on a book called (naturally enough) Content Rules.  Included with the $60 admission fee was a copy of this tome... but my copy hasn't shown up in the mail yet.

It was a moderately interesting presentation and was a decidedly more engaging and involving environment than the insipid and uninspiring Vermont Business Expo which I had attended the week before.

I went this presentation for multiple reasons -- networking, it got me out of the house, I took the opportunity to put up posters around town for the upcoming Vermont Mountain Bike festival -- but also because, by any possible metric, my efforts in the social media sphere have been an abject failure:  Not a lot of Facebook friends, not a lot twitter followers, and not a lot of traffic to this blog.

For me to integrate more successfully into this brave new, intensely conversational and borderline exhibitionist social media world, I think some sort of personality transplant would be required...an attitude adjustment of the highest magnitude.

I would have to suddenly become interested in sharing much more online than I am currently willing to share, and also invest in a smartphone and carrying an Internet connection around with me wherever I go.

Maybe a little reticence is a good thing, however.  When I look at how some of these people use social media, I'm astonished, and not in a good way.  Here is a screen shot (taken 6/9/2011) of the twitter stream of one the presenters:
My small brain does not comprehend the value of 43k+ "tweets" 
Now, twitter is about five years old, so let's do some rough math:  5 years x 365 days/year x 16 hours of waking time = 29200 hours, so 44000 tweets / 29200 = 1.5 tweets per hour, 16 hours per day, 7 days a week.

And this back of the napkin calculation doesn't allow for weekends, holidays, or any personal downtime, nor did I waste time researching how long this person has actually been on twitter.

I am not sure where I am going with this, except that when I look at this activity, I don't see 43000+ bits of accumulated wisdom -- or even a man with a lot of friends -- I see triviality and distraction.

I don't think that 200 years from now some anthropologist will look at this digital record (if any record exists) for insight into the present age.  It won't be a futuristic version of, say, Boswell's London Journal, for example (and this is an inherently unfair comparison).  It seems to be something of no enduring value whatsoever.

If one pauses to consider that a 75 year lifespan is made up of 657000 hours, is tweeting 1.5 times per hour, 16 hours per day REALLY a good use of one's time?  What did humans do to communicate prior to the existence of all this technology?

(Astute readers will catch that the post title is a Fight Club reference.)

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