Are 140 Characters Enough?
The disconnection, distractedness, triviality, and loneliness that are increasingly becoming a part of a hyper-technified age has been a source of interest (and concern) for me for a while now. Increasingly, our lives are lived online. Facebook and Twitter (or the blogosphere!) are substituted for the cafe and the living room. Status updates and text messages take the place of conversation. There are certainly many good things about the brave new communication world we have created, but there are costs as well.
A few days ago, Tyler posted a wonderfully insightful (and sobering) reflection called “Letters to Abid” which probes some of the issues and anxieties around our use of technology and they ways in which it shapes our experience of being human. Here are a few of the more memorable and thought-provoking passages:
You share the same fear as I. Being forgotten by the world because you can no longer be reached by text on a screen. You say to me, “people don’t’ think I exist once they lose the ability to text me.” I have no reply for you because you are right. I want to believe that I will remember your existence but wonder if I will. Am I so indoctrinated in constant communication that as much as I may try, thoughts of you will still disappear among status updates? We are constantly connected, that much is true. But, are 140 characters enough? Are we so afraid of each other, so afraid of ourselves, that anything more will reveal some unspeakable truths? Maybe those small texts boxes that say so little also say so much. Maybe by choosing to know so little about so many that we fail to know a lot about a few…
My face becomes a screen telling lies that hides an indifferent mind. Kilometers of electrical lines separate us even when we are standing beside each other. Experience is never for the sake of experience. It is just another album on another page. Another lie…. Just another text box screaming for an entry, screaming to give the photograph the life it so desperately pains for.
How can a justification of a person’s existence be sent with such few letters? Will my life be summed by a simple text or update? My tombstone will declare an expired username and out-of-service phone number. Hopefully someone will take a photograph of it and tag me in it.
The full post is well worth a read.