November 1, 2011

How does Twitter kill thinking?

Yes. Twitter is bad for some of us. Specially for those of us who are Blogging.
I used to be an addicted twitter user for some time. I mean, I never used it to tell the world what I am doing or anything. I find it a little dumb to do that. I used twitter to share what I think about various issues.Let us say, I read interesting write ups online and have an opinion about it. I use twitter to air that opinion.

Or let us say, someone on twitter says something about something and I want to say something about it or against it. I used twitter as a platform to engage with people and discuss issues with them. Now, this led to too many twitter wars. As usual, conflicts make life interesting and it made life on twitter interesting too. And these twitter wars made sure that I spent more time on twitter than any where else.

I like to blog. I realized that Blogging improves my ability to write and articulate my thoughts clearly. And the day I bought a laptop and got an internet connection for my personal use, I started blogging. Initially I blogged about random topics, anonymously as I didn't want anyone to find out that I am blogging the stupid thoughts I am blogging. Eventually, I shed my inhibition and started Blogging using my real name. It was not bad. And after sometime I realized that I like writing about technology and started writing on techedin about things I learn about information technology.

Yes. It was not bad at all. But it was less than 50 hits a day back then and absolutely no comments from people who read what I wrote. And then twitter came along. And the fact that people responded to tweets made me hop into the twitter bandwagon. Initially, I used to blog along with twittering away to glory. But then things started to change. As I got into tweeting more and more, the number of my posts on my blog decreased. And blogging completely came to a stand still as twitter wars brewed. I passed a comment on almost anything I could. I became too lazy to write long posts. My blog died.

Then something strange happened three months ago. I realized that I was using twitlonger and deckly more than the twitter platform itself when I was engaged in a heated debate with someone or anyone. These 140 characters never seemed to be enough. I was thinking, what the hell? Why shouldn't I write these things on my blog so that I can at least refer back to them when I want to? Why should I write my thoughts on a platform that gives me no option to sort it, categorize it and store it for later use. On twitter, once tweeted is as good as gone for ever, true to its name. You need to spend a lot of time and kilobytes to locate something that you once said. So there I was, wondering, why I should waste my time there!

However, that didn't make me start writing my blog right away. The fact was, I was not feeling that urge to write long posts. If there was a half formed thought in my head, a catchy sentence, I tweeted it out. That made me lazy to go back and write long posts on my blog. Worse still, I needed to be in the middle of a frustrating debate to write a long post.

And then something strange happened again. I don't know if it was because of the thoughts that were going on in my head, I started losing my interest in twitter. I mean I stopped tweeting, except for some occasional link sharing. And two months passed by.

After two months of no tweeting at all, I got this sudden urge to write. I figured out a way to read certain Indian languages on my Android Tabet. Twitter was not enough to share that with people. So I chose to write it on my blog. After a day, I realized that my post was getting a good number of hits. From a blog that got less than 50 hits a day, my blog went upto 800 hits a day. Now, that was very encouraging. And I brought my blog back into life again.

Now, I blog almost on a daily basis. I have come to a point where I have learned not to bother if any one will read what I write. I know, if someone finds it useful they will. Otherwise, I don't care much. I can use what I write as reference at a later point in time if I need to.

What I realized from this whole issue is the fact that microblogging kills real blogging. It almost killed the blogger in me. Had I been using twitter as faithfully as I used to, all that I would have done now instead of writing this post, would have been to tweet a single line: "twitter killed the blogger in me" or something to that effect. Then I will forget it. That tweet is gone. Someone may retweet it and make it stay for sometime. And then it will be gone again. Sometimes in seconds. Sometimes in minutes. Twitter does not have a platform that is capable of helping you form your thoughts. It in fact kills your thought processes. It kills our ability to think.

We go with the misconception that twitter and its 140 character limit allows us to cut away the clutter and say things succinctly. Actually, clutter is what allows you to solve complicated issues. Twitter is actually killing your ability to create clutter. Nothing great in the world was ever written in 140 characters. Twitter is just a hyped up "quotable quote" platform. But those of you who know what thinking is all about know that context is much more important than a quotable quote itself.

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