Monday, May 19, 2008

Twitter is ruining my marriage....

I love Twitter. I think the reason I do is that it's fast and limited. The 140 character limit forces you in to a short message, and you also know those you follow are being terse in their prose as well. Only essentials are passed along. (There are those who abuse this and send frequent messages, especially during basketball season, election season, NASCAR, long boring car trips, and hockey playoffs. That is what TwitterSnooze is for.) Most people on the service just send out a quick blast every so often, to let friends know where they are, physically or mentally. It's like passing someone in the hall on Monday morning, saying "How was your weekend" and getting the short version back: "We went to the lake," or "Saw a great concert," or "Did a ton of yardwork." But instead of having to wait until Monday morning, you see it pass by in real time. Say you're reading your RSS feeds over coffee on Saturday morning, gearing up to clear out storm damage in the back yard. Suddenly, a window pops up, and a buddy two time zones away says "Looks like a yard work kinda day." And now you have a work companion. So, three days later, when you're on a call with him, you say, "How's the yard looking after Saturday's session?" You don't have to go through the "What have you been up to" thing, where the person being questioned has to remember how far back in his life the questioner wants to go in the limited time available. It's like you're neighbors, without all that having to hear their motorcycle at 2 am stuff.

Rands hit it on the money in his excellent post, We Travel in Tribes. Here's the juicy bit, for me, anyway:

Twitter is … a social network without the superpoke scrabtaculous zombie noise and, for that, I’m thankful, because I’ve got work to do. Yes, I could spend days tidying my profile and scrubbing my friends list, but to what end? I want to know more people, and sure, it’s interesting to see what they’re up to, but what I really want to know is what is going on inside their heads with a minimum of fuss.

I want to see how they see the world. This is why I follow people on Twitter. This is why they follow me.

Now, how is this ruining my marriage? Funny you should ask. My Lovely Bride, for all her wonderful qualities, has little patience. (I know, I know - those of you who know me well are trying to figure out why she's stuck around for 27 years with me, since I require lots of - um - patient understanding. Some have even called me high maintenance. It's just the power of love, I guess. I'm not about to question that now, however.... I might jinx it!) When we're out-and-about, and I'm sending tweets to folks, she doesn't want to wait for those 140 characters to be typed. She is in "hang with the hubby" mode, not "watch hubby broadcast random facts of our life to a self-selected group of his friends" mode. So we're still, in our semi-argumentative way, working out how to integrate this into our marriage. It's a process. (It took 15 years for her to stop saying "you love that computer more than you love me," so it may be a while.) I'm trying to be less obvious about things, and she's working on understanding it. Twitter is new and different from anything we've had in the online world before, so it is, as a good paradigm shifter should, challenging our conventions and making us actually think about how relationships work.

Not a bad thing, just a thing.


Anonymous said...

You should Twitter only in the dark of night lest you lose your marriage?!

One thing about your description which is interesting to note with Twitter is that it's not you posting to your "self-selected" group of friends, but rather, those who have *selected you*.

On Twitter, you choose who to follow, so spammy or annoying people can be unfollowed or blocked entirely. This is a unique aspect of Twitter that has helped it grow.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the feedback! That's what I meant by self-selected - they choose to follow me, I didn't choose them. Selected or select friends would mean I choose them. Self-selected means they selected themselves, which is how Twitter works.

Guess it wasn't as clear as I intended.

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