I'm currently reading a novel in which one of the characters says civilization has been declining since the invention of smoke signals. His theory is that, until that time, all communication was face-to-face. As we distance ourselves from others, communication has become more impersonal. I'd have to add my own observation: we're no longer communicating, we're emitting signals but no one has time to read them.
I follow a number of blogs, almost all of them writing-related. I use Google Reader to notify me when something new is posted on these sites. I open the Reader once or twice a day, read through the titles and first few lines, and decide whether to invest the time in reading them. And I'm careful not to spend all my time doing this--because it's possible to let blog-reading and commenting take over your day.
I asked a number of people how many blogs they read. The results were interesting. A number of responses included the comment, "I don't have time to read blogs." The busier the person, the less time they spend on blogs and social networking. Makes sense, I guess. You can't be reading and writing at the same time. And I don't know how many times I've heard from friends who say, "I've got to shut this down and get some work done."
I also use Twitter. As I've posted before, I've already stopped following some folks on Twitter because their frequent tweets have just worn me down. Now I use it to follow a small group of friends with whom I enjoy the closer contact this medium allows. As for FaceBook, I have only a nominal presence there. My tweets go to my FaceBook page and I get emails when someone posts on my wall (and for those of you who don't do FaceBook, it's sort of like your first trip to Starbucks--you have to learn the language). Again, all this can take over your life if you let it. I'm trying very hard to avoid that.
Is there a point to all this? Well, to begin with, if you're reading this blog I appreciate your taking the time to do it. Other than that, I'd like to ask how you self-limit your involvement in blogs and Twitter and FaceBook and all that stuff. Any suggestions?
I'll be away from the keyboard for a few days. Talk among yourselves, and the last person out of the chat room be sure to turn off the lights.