One of the things I realized during the 24 hours of darkness this weekend was that microblogging (the emission of pithy 140 characters-or-less “status updates” through sites like Twitter, Jaiku and Faceboook), while addictive, is, for me, the digital equivalent of empty calories. It took 24 hours out of the loop to realize that while microblogging has the appearance of substance, it shares more in common with a nervous tick than with writing a novel.

So, at least until I have another epiphany, I’ll be blogging only in the macro format (here), and my Twitter, Jaiku and Plazes streams will end abruptly.

With Facebook I’ve taken the additional step of deleting my account completely (you can do it right here if you want to join me); if following the lifestream of my familiars was distracting, following the lifestream of that guy who sat across from me in grade 12 biology was simply pointless.

Having streamed the minutiae for almost 5 years in one form or another, this will take some getting used to, as the reflex to ping won’t just disappear overnight. So if you see my hands trembling with frustrated glee over the next while, you’ll know why.


Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on January 26, 2009 - 14:24 Permalink

For the record, my first urge to tweet something after posting this came 19 minutes later.

Steven Garrity's picture
Steven Garrity on January 26, 2009 - 14:28 Permalink

I need to know what you’re doing *right* now.

Rob Campbell's picture
Rob Campbell on January 26, 2009 - 15:57 Permalink

bye @ruk! You will be missed.

deb's picture
deb on January 26, 2009 - 16:25 Permalink

I’m with you on the Facebook thing, but I think Twitter is significantly different. I like Twitter a lot. It gives me a sense of connection to and ambient awareness of people well beyond my regular day-to-day world — for example with the Zappers, most of whom I didn’t know before the event, and many of whom I would otherwise never make a connection with afterward. I think Twitter is incredibly valuable for that, and, if nothing else, it’s that connection through daily (and occasionally trivial) minutiae is a lot of how friendships are built over time. Very few things on the ‘net provide that connection.

You will be missed on Twitter. I also think you should reconsider :)

PFA's picture
PFA on January 26, 2009 - 17:20 Permalink

I’m with you Peter — I had deactivated my account, but hadn’t found the hidden link to delete it :) I, too, have requested the deletion of my Facebook account. Of course, my reasoning is quite different, but the effect is still the same —- Facebook-freedom!

Dan Misener's picture
Dan Misener on January 26, 2009 - 20:49 Permalink

Bravo, Peter.

Paul R. Pival's picture
Paul R. Pival on January 26, 2009 - 21:31 Permalink

Interesting — you’re the second I know to have pulled the plug (the first is back, btw). I think microblogging can work really well if you’re judicious in who you follow. I don’t follow (or friend) casual acquaintances — only the people I truly care about, or who’s opinions matter to me. I’d really miss learning the little things I learn about people through the microblogging channels. Good luck with your cold turkey! ;-)

Nora Young's picture
Nora Young on January 26, 2009 - 21:32 Permalink

Very interesting thoughts, Peter. To paraphrase: ‘I wish I could quit you, Twitter’. I think more than posting updates, which I enjoy, I like observing the self-organization that’s happening on Twitter. It’s almost like an emergent behaviour.

Alain Saffel's picture
Alain Saffel on January 26, 2009 - 22:09 Permalink

Some people might agree that Twitter & Facebook are “empty calories” but for some of us they are true communities. I’ve used Twitter to develop personal and business relationships and Facebook to reconnect with people I haven’t been in contact with for years.

I reserve Facebook mainly for personal relationships and keeping in touch. I don’t have to comment on every single thing happening in my friends’ lives, but it’s nice to see what interesting things they’re up to. It gives me inspiration. We’ve also used Facebook to organize informal reunions and plan to continue this.

In a society that tends to disintegrate the social fabric, Facebook is one of those things that helps to mend it.

These tools tend to demand more and more of people but we do need to resist the urge to devote all of our time to them. They are good to keep in touch, but in extremity can corrode our immediate relationships. That being said, any obsession will do the same, so you could blame it on Twitter, alcohol, sex or video games. What’s the difference?

I know my blogging has suffered but I don’t blame it entirely on Twitter or Facebook. Work can take the lion’s share of that blame! :)

Cyn's picture
Cyn on January 27, 2009 - 02:58 Permalink

Plazes is now down to 3 PEI users. The way I see it, if I don’t know where you are by now then I have not been paying attention.

Walk child to school”…”Coffee at Casa Mia” …”arrive at office” …. “work”… “decide where to eat lunch”…”retrieve child”…”home”…”back to work for a while” … etc.

Good luck not documenting.

Deane's picture
Deane on January 27, 2009 - 17:01 Permalink

I have never been a fan of Twitter. There are too many people posting random things that don’t make any sense — it’s the Kingdom of the Non-Sequiters. Drives me nuts.

I am a fan of Facebook, however. That has enriched my life considerably. It’s like an Intranet for the whole world.

Alan's picture
Alan on January 27, 2009 - 22:10 Permalink

With respect the principle behind “It’s almost like an emergent behaviour” is the same as the one behind sucking your teeth in public. The question is if it is a useful behaviour. Without that component, if you want a “community” built around activity of distant strangers, good luck to you. See if any in that “community” bail you out when need a hand with shoveling the drive way or, come to think of it, when you need to be bailed out.

When you think about it, through Twitter you have become something like my interest in Malta in the pantheon of my consciousness. By not being on Twitter you likely drop to something like Uruguay but maybe not as you are still on my Bloglines so maybe more like Togo. Without that, you become more like those plastic thingies on the end of my laces or the way breakfast cereal packaging is sealed. Do you care? Should you?

I wish a better community for you than that. One with a chance of snow shoveling or maybe even the hope of a pot luck supper once in a while.

Kirby's picture
Kirby on January 28, 2009 - 23:19 Permalink

Funnily, enough, I arrived here via Dan’s Tweet from Sparkcbc.

I tend to agree with Alain about Facebook. I use FB for keeping in touch with people who live far away from me. It’s quite handy for that and, once you vigourously fight off the “what’s your stripper name?” and vampire biting apps, it’s quite low maintenance.

Twitter’s a bit different. At first I thought the idea of answering “what are you doing?” was nuts. Then I realized that most everyone else thinks it’s nuts as well, and instead use it to publish links to pages of interest to them (often they’re flogging their own blogs, but that’s okay. if you don’t like it, you can remove yourself from following them). To that end, the couple of times I’ve been blog-flogging on Twitter, the hit count on my blog goes up (from zero to as high as nine!). It’s even garnered some new followers. They don’t always last. I just blogged about that, in fact, so I can now flog my new blog entry on Twitter to see if it gets me any new hits or followers.

Come to think of it, it’s kind of a vicious circle. I feel like a gambler at a slot machine, constantly plugging coins, just waiting for the machine to pay off, or that woman on the old Pot of Gold chocolates, who’s holding a box of chocolates with a picture of a woman holding a box of chocolates, who’s holding a box of chocolates…

Seriously, though, Twitter seems to be more of a PR tool than anything.