Thursday, May 9, 2013

Reading "Twitter: The Medium of the Moment" from The New Yorker

Twitter: The Medium of the Moment : The New Yorker

This article seems to confirm the casual lunch discussion with my digitally-minded colleagues over the various uses of Social Media.  General consensus points to Facebook as the social platform for sharing events from real life and Twitter for its gathering of news information on one side but not divulging personal information.  The two are mutually exclusive and are ultimately about two speeds of information sharing.

As The New Yorker Matt Buchanan states, "Twitter’s intrinsic, relentless driving of the new makes it the quintessential medium of breaking news, particularly combined with its capacity for spreading that news with breathtaking ease".   Twitter, the ultimately up to date news source and dashboard of the present.

I am indeed interested in the way that people are willing to have multiple social presences and the energy dispensed for maintenance.  But further still, a distinction we have spoken about before between Immediacy and the Present becomes apparent in Buchanan's article as he continues,
For all of the ways in which Twitter has evolved since its creation, in 2006, when it was known as “twttr,” what has not changed is how profoundly Twitter relies on nowness. Nowness is not simply newness, or the new: the question Twitter used to ask of users when they went to compose a tweet, “What’s happening?” is a direct inquiry about the state of now.
We'll certainly permit the author his philosophical moment as he touches on a larger choice--how we want to live our life.  Do we want to infuse the Now with a constant wave of Newness or rather settle into the present as it arises?   Again we assert that Immediacy, the state of hurried experience, is not the same as the Present Moment which is simply there.  I suppose both produce a "Wow!" but about different content. 

My experience of taking the bus home from work at the same time countless teenagers return from the pool across the street attests to an entire generation attached to fresh information and constant contact with others.  It would seem for some it won't even be about a choice but rather a custom and a habit.  We will see what this generation ultimately ends up doing with their Now. 

Like all trends, we could expect some backlash to occur, maybe a return to things more tranquil, more present.  I feel for myself, for instance, that this rendering public over a blog carries with it a desire to render my life more private, and the effort to maintain it and Facebook is questionable.  In the end, we are speaking about living life at one, not multiple, speeds, which is, by the way, certainly my own "challenge". 

Being present is a life-long struggle so I only question instruments that pull us away from it, creates a habit of immediate demand and result.  On the burgeoning psychological outcomes, we have spoken before

How can one get tired of the Now?  Easily as you realize there really is nothing New in it at all.  Nothing that isn't just as easily learned through the news or a morning perusal of a news website or two, a quick round of Facebook.  But this is my choice.

1 comment:

  1. I think the Now is functioning in these critiques as a worry about an inherently alienating unreflectiveness or impressionism in microblogging practices like twitter. I emphasize alienation in this formulation, because it suggests that their worry might actually be a kindred worry to yours, that weirdly they are worried about an alienation from the rich presence in the Now via fixation on Now as a play if disparate decontextualized sensations. I say this as somebody who was a crusty critic of twitter for quite a while myself, complaining about its superficiality and impoverishment and so on. I guess it's no big surprise to discover that once I actually used and got used to twitter myself I found it capable of riches I was unaware of all the while so cocksure in my disliking of it.

    I do think that in our own epoch the deceptive and hyperbolizing norms and forms of promotional discourse derange all mediated practices -- and this is as true of twitter as it is of journalism, literature, scholarly discourse. The mistake, possibly attributable to the novelty and conspicuousness of microblogging, is that this general suscpetibility is falsely identified with twitter as such. No doubt there is a bit a magickal thinking here -- the disavowal that all public deliberation has become unreflective not just its twitterized face.

    I always conceded the value of twitter as a medium for reportage and subcultural signaling -- testifying forcefully to disseminated real-time observations of events like protests or legislative wrangling in committee or shared enjoyment of mass-broadcast speeches or entertainments. But I will admit that I underestimated the force of critical intervention available in the long languishing and now twitter-revitalized genres of the aphorism and the epitome. I will also note that the twitter-link is just as enabling of deepening reflection as it is of promotional virality. Definitely I did not grasp the richer deliberative dynamisms that emerge out of successive tweets or responses or retweets that build on one another and complicate one another in ways that are the furthest thing from superficial or non-reflective.