Fear of Falling and Being Followed

Fear of Falling--Icarus

Fear of Falling--Icarus

If I could have the superpower of my choice, I’d take the ability to fly. But based on my impulsivity, I’d probably fly too close to the sun, like the Greek god Icarus. So I’d be better off with my second choice…invisibility.

There’s something intriguing about wandering anonymously through the day, going wherever you want, doing whatever you want-no questions asked, no calls from the office.

 And this brings me to Twitter, the impossibly popular micro-blogging service that lets users stay connected through the exchange of short status messages. It’s designed to let you answer the question “What are you doing?” -and share those updates with colleagues, family and friends. Russell Davies explains, “Although twitter seems pointless to many, the point of its pointlessness is clear. There’s a big simple question–What are you doing?–and you answer it. The verbiness of this question is its genius. Where are you? provokes no poetry. What are you doing? is profound and playful.” Some users apparently go way beyond “What are you doing?” Educator Alec Couros claims Twitter has become the gateway to deeper, more meaningful communication. It allows people “to more deeply connect to each, share resources, share online opportunities, collaborate more conveniently, poll each other,” he says.

And the amazing thing is they have those profound exchanges in 140 characters or less.

Profound conversations aside, what you’re most likely to get on Twitter are not important business messages but minute-by-minute updates about someone else’s life-the electronic, 24/7 version of someone else’s family movies. And some users have discovered that news like that is just too much information. “I have stopped following several people who have thousands of followers and post 20, 50, 100 times or more per day. The minutia of their life isn’t interesting enough to allow it to clog my timeline. I want to keep up, but who a blow-by-blow account of when they ordered their latte, whether it was served well, how long it took to gulp it down, and when they ordered their next latte, etc., etc. I don’t think Twitter anticipated that people would post every 5 minutes, all day, every day.”

The poetic may mask their coffee breaks with claims they’re “communing with the universe through an infusion of caffeine.” But in the end, it’s still a coffee break.

Maybe it’s just me. But I don’t use caller ID and debated for years before getting an EZ-Pass. There’s something uncomfortable about being tracked like a pigeon, whereabouts potentially always known. At least those pigeons can fly.

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