Charlie's Blog: Post Twitter Homesick Blues


Post Twitter Homesick Blues

I've had to learn when not to tweet. Like, you learn how to keep your mouth shut? Learn to keep your tweet shut.

I quit using Twitter about a month ago as I wrote in this blog post. Needless to say, I am at that stage where a new ex-smoker relapses because they don't know what to do with their fidgety hands. I have the post Twitter fidgets, and it is driving me mad. I just have to fight through it knowing it will be done in another month.

This blog post is one of those stream of consciousness things to help me overcome these fidgets. Think of it as Wrigley's Spearmint Chewing Gum, and I have four pieces of it chewing around in my mouth. I can't read a news story or article on the internet without wanting to tweet it except now that is not an option. When I do share things, it is usually to specific people through my email account, and I only share it after asking myself some tough questions. Will this person find value in what I have shared? Or, will they be annoyed to find it in their email inbox? Such reflections are never considered when it comes to Twitter.

I had the same issues when I quit Facebook, so I know this will be the same thing here. It is sad that things like this can be as addictive as crack. Why is social media so addictive? That is a difficult question to answer. I can explain nicotine addiction in terms of neurotransmitters and pleasure centers in the brain. But social media is a purely cognitive thing involving no introduction of chemicals into the body. Gambling has the same quality. You can literally make yourself think yourself into pleasure. Let's say what it is. Pleasure is addictive. People like feeling good.

In other things, I have to admit that I have soured on using the Kindle. I have been an ebook reader for some years now, but I must admit that I prefer a real book to an electronic book. I am not alone in this as ebook sales are in decline. The blame is put on higher prices for electronic books, but this misses the point. The only real selling point for electronic books was that they were cheaper. But if the price for an ebook and a physical book are the same, people opt for the physical book. Why would anyone shun a newer technology to go with an older technology? That is a fascinating question.

Newspapers are not coming back but will die a slow death. Of course, if the newspaper is free, then people love the newspaper. I see all sorts of free papers in cities, and people love them. They sell a ton of advertising as well. But if a newspaper website wants to sell online subscriptions, then people who normally read that online paper suddenly decide that they don't need it. The same is true for music. When music was free via Napster, Limewire, and other piracy file sharing technologies, the music was popular. But when you have to pay for it via iTunes, then people prefer their old vinyl records. I can say that my reasons for buying a Kindle was to avail myself of all the free and cheap books I could get from Amazon. But if I have to pay the same or more, I want the physical book. Price is everything.

I have been obsessed with technology issues ever since the smartphone became ubiquitous. Before the iPhone, I never questioned technology. I never asked the most basic question. Is this an improvement? Then, I saw my first busted smartphone, and I knew I didn't want one. That was when I began questioning tech. The fact is that tech came to an endpoint of improvement in 2007 and became an industry of toy manufacturing subsequently. The industry went from improving your life in new ways to making the tech companies richer in new ways.

I think people return to the older technology when they discover that the newer technology is not an improvement but merely a novelty. This would be my experience with the Kindle. The last four books I read were paper. On my Kindle, I have various books begun but not finished. The Kindle essentially killed my reading life in much the same way that smartphones now kill social life because people can't stop tapping on their screens to have real conversations.

I am not a Luddite because I love my desktop PC, and I would feel naked without my flip phone. But I see tablets as laptops with the keyboards cut off for the benefit of illiterates, and smartphones are Gameboys with call features. I have searched for examples of where people shunned new tech for older tech with the only example I could give being the rejection of 8-track in favor of vinyl. But the best example has been in my face the whole time. That Kindle is the 8-track of our times.

Enough fidgeting now.

RELAPSE: I couldn't do it anymore. I have relapsed and gone back to Twitter like a desperate smoker fishing for the longest butt in the ash tray. It is shameful, I know. Just when you think you are out, social media pulls you back in.

RECOVERY: I have beaten my addiction to social media. I recommend the two following posts for more on this topic: