It’s fun to stay on top of things, noodling the most entertaining tweets from my Tweetdeck.
But I may be reaching the cliff called Overload. If not, I can sure see it from here.
Sensory overload always been an occupational hazard of living inside this particular brain. I go into libraries, stop at the door, stare into the stacks–the floors and floors of stacks–and turn around and go right back out the door. Too many choices. Flipping channels is fun, but it’s not watching TV, and it’s not hard to frustrate myself on a day off trying to decide which one thing I should do (out of the thousands of choices) to relax. Stresses me out.
I googled “Twitter Overload” and from perusing the hits, filtering seems to be the key. Our brains do the job most of the time, realizing of course that the amount of available sensory information coming in through the various portals of perception is astronomical. Somehow, early on, we figure out how to focus and discard, focus and discard–or better yet, focus and ignore. But these days, the stream of tweets (read thoughts hoping to grab my attention with entertainment and no doubt crucial information) is never-ending.
It’s a bit like Frogger, for those of you who remember that silly game. We’re the frogs, information is the street of traffic, and I feel like I’m getting run over. Oddly enough, I’m not even trying to get to the other side of the street. To switch analogies (clumsy, I know), now that I’m in the middle of that road, I feel like the Ikea guy who at sales time stacks 40 boxes on top of his Volkswagen Beetle, ties them down and heads off to wherever he’s going. Can’t get under bridges now, though, making travel awkward. We stack every bit of information we get on top of our Beetle Brain, and trundle off down the road.
What was it I was thinking about before I saw the tweet announcing that a local theatre had a fire alarm (no harm done), and everyone had to exit the building? Or that Kevin Spacey was tweeting “hi” from Letterman? Or that my good friend was cleaning his apartment and found a wad of cash? (Yeah, Carlo!)
Here’s an interesting graphic I found on a site musing about this sort of thing.
Brain-Thrashing Threshold, indeed.
Somebody help me here. You got rules for how you do this? I love all the people I’m following (well…that maybe overstating it…I’m sure that’s overstating it), but do I really want to hear all this? In a nutshell, the problem is this: the question “What am I missing?” used to be much further in the background. Of course I’m missing most things in the world–by definition this will always be true. But with Facebook and Twitter, there’s just so much going on…I never knew!
Seriously, I’d be interested to know how people who are into this are managing the stream. Maybe it’s just a fad, and next week we’ll go back to the slow, lazy days of turning pages on thick volumes of capital-L literature, but for now, 140 characters rules the day. Are there spiritual implications? Yes and no, as with all things. But what are they “yeses,” the ways we’re being impacted?
For those of you who’ve read this far, here’s an interesting article on the moral implications of Facebook and Twitter. The basic claim is that:
Today’s fast-paced media could be making us indifferent to human suffering and should allow time for us to reflect, according to researchers. They found that emotions linked to moral sense are slow to respond to news and events and have failed to keep up with the modern world. In the time it takes to fully reflect on a story of anguish and suffering, the news bulletin has already moved on or the next Twitter update is already being read.
Sounds like a Neil Postman thought.
Whoops. Out of time. Have to go tweet that I just wrote about this stuff…