Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I love what Twitter has done for me, but….

I love what Twitter has done for me. It’s connected me to some amazing people including my two literary angels, @HelenHollick a wonderful historical writer who then introduced me to the woman who became my copy editor, Jo Field, who is also an author in her own right.

But at the same time, I cannot believe how it’s changed since I joined back in March. It's getting so crowded now that I can’t possibly keep up with everything that’s going on (perhaps my “follow” list is too long?). I know they’ve added some new tools to help sort through the barrage of sentiments and insights (I use this term lightly), but I still find it overwhelming. It’s like being at a party and being bombarded by stories, occupations, and interests of the 664 people (that’s how many people I’m following). And sadly, many of the people are just not that interesting, and the ones that are, are either lost in the digital stream, or difficult to find to start with.

In this age of advanced “communication” and information overload, I see the same ideas repeating themselves over and over again. And frankly, it’s often a bore - but herein may lay a silver lining...

Over the last few years, I often pondered the future of books and wondered if people will still take the time to read them when they can more easily fill up hours with online sound bites? I have to admit that I have succumbed to far too much time passively being entertained by the likes of Nigahiga and KeJumba. Although they may be hilarious at times, I wonder how I will feel one day towards the end of my life looking back? Will I regret the times spent with these pursuits instead of reading great books, or will it matter at all?

Recently I ploughed - and yes, I did feel like one of those horses I saw at the fair pulling far too much weight- through Anna Karenina. Had it not been “required reading” for my book club, I never would have read it, even though I have always wanted to. It was long and tedious at times, and inspired and touching at others. Do I regret the forty hours it took me to read it? Absolutely not. Has it inspired me to read other classics? Yes!

On the other hand, do I regret that I spent half of Saturday on YouTube? Yes, a little bit. It makes me wonder: although both activities would fall in the “entertainment” category, why do they seem so different? Is it my constant guilt and fear of wasting my life? Or does it point to something deeper? Something more primal?

I have come to the conclusion that as much as we may think we want life to be easy and to be fed like babies - whether that’s by food companies or the entertainment industry -we all have a desire for something more. I believe people are born with a desire for something that can only be attained by a bit of effort. It takes work to grow an apple orchard, pick the fruit and make your own cider (believe me I know!). Of course it would be much easier to take a can out of the cupboard and crack it open, but nothing compares with the taste of freshly pressed cider and the accompanying feeling of satisfaction.

I have become convinced that people will always read books, whether on electronic media or in print, and be willing to do the “work” to get to the ending. At least that’s what I’m hoping for.


  1. You articulated so well what so many of us ponder ~ but taking these questions to a conclusion, even if only for yourself, was a breath of fresh air and an inspiration to me. I am a writer as well and have experienced the things you describe with sound bytes,etc. I too wonder if they are a waste of time. I have met so many wonderful people via Twitter and Facebook (you, for instance). For that reason alone I find it valuable. But after a point it takes discipline and focus to cultivate these relationships and limit them to what you can reasonably handle. Thanks for helping me clarify my feelings on this important topic!

  2. By the way, Anna Karenina is definitely worth ploughing through. The names alone will kill you, but the more Russian Lit you read the easier it gets. Have you read Cancer Ward? Not uplifting but a fantastic book.