Twitter vs. RSS vs. Web

I don’t post here much very often these days, mainly thanks to Twitter. (I also haven’t really felt like I had much to say, this past year or so.) Twitter is quick and simple, and unlike a blog post, I don’t really have to think about what I’m trying to express. (Not that I have to do that with a blog post, but I’d rather write something coherent than not.) Twitter has become my dominant Net experience these days. For years, my day began with Google Reader. I’d open it up and surf through my feeds, my equivalent of picking up the Times. But nowadays, I hit Twitter first, starting with the newest tweets and working my way backwards to the last tweets I saw. Only then do I go over to Reader — or, more often, Reeder, the iPhone Reader app I picked up a while back based on Warren’s recommendation. Alan Watts once said something along the lines that each of us is a node through which the universe looks at itself. That’s what Twitter feels like: watching the universe watch itself through different eyes. It’s a way of immersing oneself in the collective experiencing of a given moment, in a much more immediate way than reading structured news or even blog posts. You open Twitter and you see what a thousand people are doing at any given moment. It’s like a downmarket version of Professor Xavier‘s Cerebro. It’s instant and ephemeral (no matter whether it’s archived or not). Twitter, for me at least, belies the notion that mediated networks are isolating. I feel more connected to the world around me with Twitter than I did before — particularly as I get older and my face-to-face relationships with people become less constant and more scattered, as my friends get married or work jobs that keep them from socializing constantly and as I myself undergo that natural withdrawal that happens when you reach your thirties and no longer feel the constant need to expand your social circle. And yet, my circle is expanding, with every new day and every new person I follow on Twitter and who follows me. I probably spend more time talking to my Twitter friends than I do to my local friends (and often I talk to them via Twitter). Maybe that sounds sad, but I don’t feel that way. It makes me happy. And perhaps it would be different if I lived in a different city. Las Vegas is a terribly isolating place, both socially and environmentally. When it’s 110º outside and you can get third-degree burns from putting your hands on the wheel of your car, nobody wants to leave the house to congregate. The fact that I don’t drink often anymore is also isolating, as Las Vegas is a city whose socializing is predicated entirely upon alcohol. Which makes me think that what I’m really trying to say is that I ought to get out of here.

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