An Empty Mind on Twitter's Water
***Please note the disclosure at the end of this document, which I hereby sign electronically. Darin L. Hammmond
You've got a couple of choices when you enter Twitter.
First, you can drift aimlessly on the surface of hashtags, ads, ads made to look like posts. You'll be tossed around like a white, red, and yellow beach ball. The ball is buoyant and will keep you afloat. By yourself.
You can engage in shallow, meaningless chatter with the other recreational swimmers, staying close to the beach, never getting too deep. You'll find many drifting balls as you bounce around to empty back and forth. Like a ball in the surf and waves, you will be tossed about or even worse, chewed up.
You could play it safe. Stay out of the water.
Second, you can choose a mindful path, navigating the rough waters, using an anchor, a sail, and a rudder (confession: that is the extent of my sailing knowledge). This path is chaotic, but not driven by chance. The experience can have value. A long voyage with a loosely mapped course to guide the boat.
The beach balls float and drift on the surface without any restraint or navigation. The true sailors use the same wind and waves to negotiate a safe and serious path into deep water. Great risk and great reward.
Clutter, Chaos, and Brains on Twitter
I feel like I am returning to the water after a long period of wandering on land and beach. I haven't written for awhile, and I have been aimless, my thoughts cluttered, no real path.
I was stuck with my writing in social media and blogs for a couple of months, in and out of the water. I was only drifting. I couldn't pull my thoughts together.
Until yesterday, when I jumped blindly into the noise, the clutter, and the mess that is Twitter.
I entered some turbulent conversations on Twitter, unprepared with my beach ball. In the midst of pounding waves and a fast current, I discovered a needed blog post.
I was in the blog post already, the individuals and the collective in Twitter activity. The discussions were brief and shifting. I found some gems in there too.
But Twitter seemed dirty and messed up with #Hashtags, hyperlinks, and the bling of distracting emoji pushed me around, unsettled me.
I found myself alone and with a plan, a fixed point or anchor to ground myself.
I had no navigation, no helm to direct me. Ads and pictures were everywhere, distractions that kept me from real, deep engagement.
I argued with some people about Jesus ("Jesus said" was hot last night), and stumbled accidentally through bursts of pornography. Seriously offensive images. I am very liberal, but even I cringed at the photos reaching out of my Macbook.
Mostly, I found myself begging for a decent conversation with a real human being. Someone who felt real and solid. A person, not a flashy ad or a robotic, canned pitches selling me stuff.
I left without ever finding something meaningful. Both Twitter and I were at fault, so I'll take part of the blame. Twitter was chaotic water, and I was bashed on all sides.
I allowed the ads, hashtags and other junk to distract me. Tweets were everywhere trying to convince me to buy followers.
Buy 100,000 followers? What the hell? All the floaters out there don't stand a chance.
Everything was fake, superficial, and empty. Twitter has become a mere tide pool, with waves that come in when the surf is up, but empty and full of garbage when it's not.
However, Twitter is microblogging and posts are meant to be short and conversations light. I value this element of Twitter. I love being forced into short, rapid fire engagements. I think the short form can actually improve a lot of writing.
My error was in leaving the public, not myself or my community, to determine what I would get from the experience. I was a drifter, not a sailor.
What's Really at Stake for Twitter
Still, Twitter in not blame free, nor I completely careless. Twitter has sold its soul.
Does Twitter realize that they are sacrificing the whole platform for a greedy piece of the advertising dollar? Garbage floats around in pools when the tide is low. Advertising drifts in giant, stagnant puddles.
How much junk can our minds endure, as we tinker around in Twitter's muddy water?
What happens to our minds when our thoughts and focus are tossed about and beaten by sights and sounds?
Our minds can actually adapt and function well in chaos because of the neuroplasticity that allows the aging mind to grow and adapt right until the end.
But we forced to look back to where we began until we find a mindful path. By mindful, I mean a quiet, calm state of mind that focuses intensely on the experience of the present moment.
We breathe slowly, feeling the moist cool air of the sea, safe in a boat that can reach into deep water.
I don't expect Twitter to be serene and calm, but I do expect that the platform will live up to the core values that it began with.
In its present state, Twitter hinders the human mind from making substantial connections, relationships, and meaning. We are left in chaos and garbage, in the tide pool when the water recedes.
Microblogging enables brief moments of intimacy and connection. Twitter is about micro relationships and exchanges.
Being deeply involved in micro-communities is a method of finding a mindful path. Rather than speaking to the public, speak to the people in communities that are grouped around interests. It takes a lot of work to be involved in a community this way.
Hell, it's hard just finding the paths to communities that interest you.
I appreciate the wake-up call from my experience with Twitter because I was left to think about what I experienced. And, I started writing.
If you feel I am bashing Twitter or its users, you are wrong. I have many friends in those waters.
But I question Twitter course of action and our own response as the problem gets worse. Just let it die?
Microblogging is better than this. Yes, Twitter has to make a fortune, but at what expense? Currently, the platform drowns serious Tweeters and, while this may temporarily increase revenue, they are creating instability and hurting themselves in the long run.
Can Twitter live up to its bold Mission Statement?
Our Mission: To give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers
I'll say right out that I am 100% behind this mission statement, and Twitter demonstrates courage in stretching for them.
However, I question Twitter's fulfillment of varies aspects of the mission. "Without barriers," for example, misses the mark by standing there in the middle, taking up the most space in advertising units. This intrusive advertising undermines their mission.
They offer tremendous egalitarian power to the masses, in order"To give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly." Only a superhuman god could gift the world with these wonderful powers of information creation and dissemination.
I wish they could. Who wouldn't? The flow of created information and ideas is interrupted by the qualification that it should occur "instantly."
OK, I'm a little picky, and the bravery to take it on is awesome. I hope for them so succeed.
But in Twitter's shrinking tide pool, what is left when the serious writers, thinkers, and friends have gone? What happens when we get sick of the propaganda shoved in our faces?
Twitter has no long term strategy to maintain dedicated followers, and instead promotes the shady buyers and sellers of what were once serious relationships and communities.
Mindful Navigation Through Twitter's Muddy Waters, and the Path Forward
Let Twitter do whatever the hell they want, but they must react immediately if they want to cut the losses. Some points for Twitter to consider:
For people on Twitter, consider these ideas to improve your experience and the community:
Thank you, Twitter, for curing my writer's block and for the good old days of witty and brief conversations. #Support #Twitter in the #cause of promoting #literacy, #education, #humanrights, #womensrights, and a #betterworld with #freespeech and #openminds.
If you read this far, do a couple of things for me if you would. Tweet to me now @darinlhammond, and don't just agree with me either, but add to the conversation. Or just say "hello, I exist." I will respect that.
***If you would be so kind, please share the word and the post by tweeting, posting, etc. with the tool just beneath here. Thanks. You are great!
Check out the Zipminis blogs while you're here too:
*** I, Darin L. Hammond, hereby absolve myself of any legal action whatsoever by Twitter or any other party by virtue of Twitter's Official Mission Statement, which grants "everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers." With this power I am free to share my ideas without barriers. Thank you, Twitter.