A Thousand Voices

Twitter has a much stronger draw for me than Facebook does. I’m not sure what it is. Perhaps it’s the constant flow of information or the thought that I have access to a world of thought completely outside of my own normal circles (my Twitter feed is generally much less conservative than my Facebook feed).

I actually quit Twitter for a little while. I used it for a few years very regularly and then got tired of how much my attention was being grabbed by it right around the end of the 2016 election. I also remember being disappointed in myself for constantly thinking in “tweetable” thoughts. I.e., anytime I attempted to chase down a line of thinking, I couldn’t help myself but find ways to tweet about it, which inevitably stunted my ability to flesh out my thinking on pretty much anything in a meaningful way. So, I archived my entire Twitter account and deleted it completely.

That was fine for a little while until I felt the need to return. My hope was that, having had some time off, I could better manage my attention and my thoughts and who I followed. Some of that has been true. I’m much more careful now about what I say and how much time I spend on it look at that feed daily. Something is still not quite right though. I see a lot on Twitter about how it has changed — that the way we interact with one another is far too insular, that we are especially reactionary on it as opposed to other platforms, and so on. But I’m not convinced that Twitter is changed (besides bumping us up to 280, curse the name of Twitter forever) so much as American culture and thought life has changed. Twitter is reactionary because we are reactionary. Our experience within Twitter is stunted and insular because we are stunted and insular.

My concerns with Twitter abound, and after experimenting with it for a second time, I don’t know that I’m any better off than I was the first time around. I might personally handle it better than I did a year ago. But as I told my wife recently, I can’t help but feel like when I log in to Twitter, I am greeted with a thousand voices that are demanding that I care about the political issue that just occurred, or the new sexual harassment revelation in Hollywood or D.C., or today’s theological controversy. The fact is, for the most part, those things are not my job to care about. There is literally nothing I can do about them, despite the fact that those thousand voices lay an infinite demand on me each day that I can and should. The better, more effective work that I can do is right here in my own tight-knit community.

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