From time to time I look up some of my history on my blog. This usually leads me to spending some time reading old blog entries, giving me a snapshot of my feelings, thoughts and such for a particular time frame in my life. I’ve treated this blog as an online diary and it’s served me well in that purpose. I like the idea of slowing life down enough to take the time to write more than a quick and witty blurb for posting on a social media site; I’ve never cared about the numbers of views or the number of comments I’ve received here. I do enjoy comments and trading thoughts back and forth with those that choose to read what I have written. There’s never anything wrong with a well-intended debate.
One of the things that strikes me when I read the older blog entries is the degradation of what I call my “quality of personal expression” after I joined Twitter. I still had a flip phone when I joined Twitter and I used to text my updates through a text message. Banging out 140 characters back then was a bit of a chore but I circumvented the problem by keeping that first tweet simple. On 9/24/2007 at 11:09 PM I simply tweeted, “Sleeping”. My evolution(?) from a flip phone to an iPhone improved my tweeting habits. Nowadays I share quick spurts of dialog with others by banging out an abbreviated retort or other piece of frivolity with others without giving it a second thought. This, in turn, has made me more outspoken. And that’s not always an entirely good thing.
“Opinions are like assholes, everybody’s got one”, as the saying goes, and sometimes the expression of our opinion turns us into an asshole. I was recently visiting friends down south and as I look back at it, I think I might have been a little more mouthy than usual when it came to discussing politics, the economy and whether or not I, as a gay man, should be eating at Chick-Fil-A. Looking back on the weekend I decided that while I am very firm in my beliefs and I am willing to enjoy a lively debate on a given subject, there’s a certain amount of couth that one can lose when they are expressing themselves, especially when they’re used to belching out their beliefs in 140 characters or less. Sharing my life on social media such as Twitter, and living behind a Twitter handle without the burden of being face to face with whom you are debating, has resulted in me losing a bit of the sophistication that I never really grew up with but that which I long to have as part of my personality.
Perhaps living your life on social media is not as grand as the social media companies would want you to believe it to be. The key to being part of the grid is to find balance in it all. Putting the phone during dinner. Shaking a celebrity’s hand instead of trying to get a selfie. Enjoying a beautiful sunrise without posting a photo of it on Instagram. Enjoy the gift, skill and thrill of flight in an airplane without barraging your Facebook feed with posts about every nuance of the flight.
Lately I’ve been drawn to social media services that are a little more robust in their content. I’m starting to read more and getting away from the “scan for pictures” services. I’m liking Medium and I’m still using RSS feeds to aggregate content from various blogs and such. And as much as I try to step away from the service, I still enjoy Google+ much more than Facebook. With a properly curated contributor’s list on your Google+ feed, the service is wonderful. It’s a shame that it hasn’t caught on more.
The most important thing that I am realizing in 2016 is that while technology is an awesome tool, it’s not the be-all end-all for everything in the 21st century. Perhaps I’m getting a little wiser as I grow older but sometimes I just need to sit down, turn off the bits and bytes and enjoy the moment. And when I am online, I need to find robust, engaging content that feeds me instead of draining me.
I want to be a novel in this tabloid world.