Twitter is making me dumber

by Dave on May 25, 2010

I’ve no doubt that Twitter is making me dumber. Reading tweet after tweet is like a 90 minute car ride with someone who’s just slammed an 8 ball, bouncing between completely unrelated thoughts, ideas, conversations, suggestions, requests, etc. in a matter of seconds. There’s no time to give anything a moment’s contemplation. For example, here are the most recent 12 tweets from my stream as I write this (authors have not been identified):

  1. @shelitwits I knew the answer to that one!
  2. Beer break after assembling too much office furniture.
  3. RT @baixakioficial Mito ou verdade: Macs não servem para jogos? http://bit.ly/duelBe
  4. RT @yummygoods: want a copy of my book? want to read about  random stuff? i have just the post for you: http://bit.ly/bT763W
  5. So, it might be who I follow, but MY view via the Tweets app is really noisy. cc @MarioSundar . Others might have a better shot.
  6. #Opensource #HIT data exchange: “Anyone can see it at http://NHITconnect.org”-CTO Chopra http://twitpic.com/1r29uy #g2e #gov20
  7. Computer model shows Earth’s mantle is speeding http://is.gd/coIG5
  8. Hey the American Library Association was just an answer/question (whatever!) on Jeopardy!
  9. #Opensource #HIT data exchange: “Anyone can see it at http://NHINconnect.org”-CTO Chopra http://twitpic.com/1r29uy #g2e #gov20
  10. One less, for now:  One of the five wind turbines proposed for private property in South Plymouth m… http://bit.ly/bJ2hNj
  11. So, if I want to share about an Internet Marketing community with LinkedIn, I just do -  http://bit.ly/cCSW1L  #in ?
  12. ME! RT @TheChip Guess who’s coming to #Sturgis Buffalo Chip for his next Big Adventure?

Breaking it down:

Tweets 1, 2 and 5 are partial conversations that I’ve missed. Therefore, they’re just clutter. Number 2 is a pleasantry that has no bearing on my day. Number 3 is in a language I don’t understand. Numbers 4, 11 and 12 are sales pitches.  I honestly don’t know what numbers 6 and 9 are about; I assume the author is attending a convention or workshop.

Numbers 7, 8 and 10 are interesting and I’d like to follow up on them, but they’re lost in the noise. Plus, by the time I get to wind turbines, I’ve forgotten about the Earth’s mantle and 20 more tweets have arrived, demanding attention.

This phenomenon isn’t unique to Twitter. Facebook also offers Information McNuggets. Instapaper makes me feel good momentarily, but I know that I’ll probably not read that article I saved in a timely manner. Days later, I’ll sync Instapaper on my iPad and remember, “Oh, yeah. I wanted to read this the other day. And these six others.”

Social media allows people to reach out and distract each other. The immediacy of the Internet is a benefit and a hindrance, reducing thoughts and stories to virtual Tic Tacs that we mindlessly pop into our mouths. By all means connect to those who interest you and share what you’ve got. But also take time to stop, reflect and think. Or you’ll end up dumber.

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