Posted by: oneyearbook | June 12, 2009

Early adopters, Part I

Technology has been getting ahead of me lately.

ICQ

ICQ

As a child, I was mostly ahead of the technology curve. My fatherworks with computers, so we kept ahead of the Joneses by having PCs in the house real early. I learned to type with a  spare keyboard Dad gave me to cart around when I was 7.

We had the Internet at home early, too, and then, we had broadband Internet before my friends. I used instant messaging systems in their dawn years. (Remember ICQ? I can’t believe they still have that!) I had a cell phone, a big clunker of a thing, in the early ’90s. My parents were very safety conscious. I got my first blog in the days when most employed adults probably thought a weblog was a type of Christmas cake.

MySpace

MySpace

But now those days are no more.  No longer am I an earlier adopter;  in fact, I seem to be slipping into my cranky old Luddite phase. I stopped using any form of instant messaging a few years back because I felt like it ruined friendships and other relationships. (In fact I had a ‘no email’ policy with my boyfriend for the first year and a half of our relationship, because I felt so strongly about the death blow brought on by Internet communication.) I do have a cell phone, but I often can’t find it, fail to charge it, and never remember the number. It does not have the ability to text message.

I have announced, repeatedly, that I will be “the last person in the world not to have a Facebook page.”

Considering that my mother, who has never been much for Internet socializing, has a Facebook page, I think I might be on the road to winning that one. Never had MySpace, either. Now, of course, I obviously have a blog. But blogging’s old hat. My Grandma, who doesn’t even like answering machines, has a blog. (Kidding. She doesn’t. At least, if she does, she hasn’t sent me the link.)

And now there’s Twitter. It is in the news so much, people. I find it tempting. Sometimes I do something and I think, “I should be tweeting this.”

Twitter's Fail Whale

Twitter's Fail Whale

But then I think, “If I was on Twitter, it would eat up my life.” This is probably true. But I think more and more that writers and readers will be communicating using these types of technology. If I publish a book, and I don’t have a Facebook site, have I alienated or lost readers? If I don’t Twitter, am I missing out on a big part of the literary conversation? I don’t know. Plenty of writers have blogs, but some of them also seem to have Twitter and to be apologizing for leaving the blog behind as they go forward in that medium. It’s hard to say. What say you, readers? Would you rather this post had been a tweet? Here it is, in 140 characters or less:

Wondering: does my relationship with technology = epic fail? To tweet, or not to tweet? That’s today’s question.

Advertisements

Responses

  1. I’m very ambivalent about Facebook. It’s sort of like a drug addiction… you hate it, but the thought of quitting it is almost unfathomable. It’s really amazing how quickly it became such a huge part of (almost) everyone’s life.

    Facebook is my drug of choice – I had myspace for all of five minutes but found it so user-UNfriendly that I quickly quit. I refuse to join Twitter both because I think it’s a bit stupid but mostly because I fear I would become addicted a la Facebook.

    The biggest challenge with any of these things is moderation. I wouldn’t hate Facebook so much if I didn’t log into it about twenty times per day (just peeking in to see what’s going on). If I could use it as a way of keeping up with people, but only log in once every day or two, or week or two, I would think it was pretty unquestionably great.

    So really, it’s not Facebook I hate, but my own inability to control my behaviour.

    Social networking is great, only so long as it’s a supplement to real interaction. I’ve long lamented the almost complete lack of snail mail in my life; now, I long for the days when my friends sent me emails instead of Facebook messages.

    A few days ago I nearly died when I read a story about how Governor Schwarzenegger is scrapping textbooks in favour of the internet. In an act of irony, I blogged about it, communicated via comments and ended up somehow agreeing with him. I still haven’t quite wrapped my head around that one.

    Now I’m the one writing a novel. Here’s my verdict: avoiding social networking is a personal choice, but these tools are very powerful if used correctly. It might be worth making a splash on the scene (whatever platform you choose) right around the time you want to promote your writing. Time it well.

    (and FWIW, Twitter is generally regarded as stupider… but honestly, I think you might prefer the anonymity. It doesn’t require so much openness via pictures, profile info, etc.)

  2. (my previous comment became a bit muddled – I didn’t mean to suggest that I consider email or snail mail to be “real interaction”… I was sort of following from that thought to say that I missed the more old-fashioned ways of doing things… and isn’t it crazy that I almost consider email “old fashioned”?

    I think of quitting Facebook daily.)

    • Yes, a big part of the reason I don’t want to get involved with Facebook is that I, too, have an inability to control my interaction with the Internet. As it is I already waste quite a bit of time on the blog. The same, I think, would be true of Twitter. I mean, I’m supposed to be writing a book and then blogging about it, not blogging about writing a book, if that makes sense, but sometimes I mix the two up and put more into the blog than I do into the writing.

      And I don’t actualy think that, say, MSN Messenger is bad for relationships for people who are competent users of it. I’m just sensitive and tend to get in a fritter if someone doesn’t answer my message in a timely way – I start to think, “uh-oh, I’ve pissed them off,” when really they’re just not at their computer. The possibility of immediate gratification leads me to expect it every time; answering machines, on the other hand, and e-mail, I’m fine with waiting a while for a reply because there so rarely is any chance of an immedate response.

      I think for now I’ll continue on my same old policy, and avoid branching out, unless I end up getting an editor or agent that wants me to do one of those things (Twitter, Facebook). Then I will do them wholeheartedly. At that point I will be willing to try many types of Internet marketing, up to and including weird videos of our cat fighting with our ferret on Youtube.

  3. I know what you mean – every time I hear about Twitter my fingers itch to try it out, but I think, why? And do I have time to pop online and write about what I’m doing this second. Does anyone care? I kind of do that already with Facebook – and that’s a huge time suck as it is.

    I liked your comment that “I’m supposed to be writing a book and then blogging about it, not blogging about writing a book” – I’m supposed to be writing a/some book(s) too but somehow I seem to be spending more time blogging about not doing it than actually doing it. hmm…

    • Do you think writers in the past had something else they did as procrastination besides browsing the web, blogging, tweeting etc? Maybe Jane Austen was always muttering “I’m supposed to be writing a book and then writing my sister a letter about it, not writing my sister a letter about how I’m supposed to be writing a book …” and Dickens thought, “Dang, these speaking engagements are keeping me from my calling.” Not that we can’t write letters or have speaking engagements nowadays. Perhaps the problem is that we are continually adding new, diverse ways to pretend to be writing.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: