Have you read Virginia Heffernan’s article, “Let Them Eat Tweets“? In a flight of metaphoric ecstasy, she suggests that a craving for virtual connections reflects an individual’s real-life social poverty (citing Bruce Sterling’s remarks at a South by Southwest technology conference). People who have real wealth, whether of soul or of lucre, feel no great need to be linked in. “We live on the Web in these hideous conditions of [cyber-]overcrowding because—it suddenly seems so obvious—we can’t afford privacy.”
Be still, my swelling ego! This explains it all: I don’t do Twitter and I don’t do cell phones and I don’t do text-messaging because of my status as a member of the richly endowed elite!
I knew it, I just knew it.
LOL! Actually, what I know is that Twitter forgot my password, I couldn’t get in, and it’s taken the proprietors a month to answer my appeal to their “help” line. And I can’t afford a cell phone. And if I could, I can’t imagine where I would find time for texting. I haven’t even had time to open the message from Twitter responding to my call for help.
It’s an interesting rumination, though, one that poses über-questions like “what is wealth,” “what is poverty,” and “WTF”?
The real reason I don’t have a cell (when people who live on welfare certainly do) is that I resist having everyone and anyone calling me wherever I am and whatever I’m doing. An ordinary land line is intrusive enough. Why would I want people jangling me up while I’m driving the car, sitting on the train, walking around, dining at a restaurant, working at the office?
Far from a sign of “a strong soul or a fat wallet,” that turn of mind strikes me as a kind of psychic self-impoverishment: surely if I were nicer, more generous, a better person I would be open at all times to the tendrils of everyone around me. I don’t have a cell because I don’t want one, and I don’t want one because of a certain social miserliness. That’s a long hike from spiritual strength.
And while the whole idea of Twitter intrigues me, it strikes me (more strongly than it intrigues me) that Twitter represents a gigantic hole into which to throw time. A space-time warp, so to speak. As I would not fling myself into a black hole to see what’s on the other side, so I feel a bit dubious about Twitter.
My guess is, though, that the poverty metaphor doesn’t apply. If you can find the time and energy to build virtual relationships, you probably have more social wealth than those of us who would rather not, thank you, tweet.
Check out Twistori, BTW. Interesting, in a hypnotic way.