I started "Tweeting" in 2008, but didn't get into it until January of this year. At that time, I did notice a demographic category on it:: Twitter moms. The site, Twittermoms, is a virtual community/portal that dubs itself "the influential mom's network." There are feeds of tweets and blog posts on the homepage and in the forum, there are discussion on HPV/Gardasil and Twitter etiquette. I thought it was a good way for like-minded users to connect in real discussions. I'm not a mom, but this looks like good stuff.
This is in direct contrast to a Salon.com piece written by a mother, "Addicted to Twitter," which is a ho-hum, predictable, narcissistic pile of dreck that I've come to expect from Salon over the years. The author, Laurel Snyder, came to this "revelation" she was addicted to Twitter after the Twitter outage two weeks ago::
"Twitter never goes to bed. Twitter is useful. Twitter is good. Twitter is too good. I have, at my fingertips, the world I have sought all my life. I can eavesdrop on conversations between editors. I can send messages to Bruce Springsteen. Stalk ex-boyfriends. Who wants to walk away from that? Why does anyone ever leave the house?Well, um, because meanwhile -- my kids are watching TV, the dishes are piling up, my new book is behind schedule. I haven’t showered. And I haven’t even noticed. I’m too busy to notice.Or I was. Until suddenly, on Thursday, I hit that refresh button, over and over, willing Twitter to return. Feeling a little panicked.Until I registered the fact that it was gone.Until I untethered myself from my desk and confronted that pile of dirty dishes.Until I emerged from the house and found I could not, even then, leave Twitter behind.That made me sad. And it scared me. So, after mulling this over for a few days, I had a talk with my husband. 'Don’t laugh,' I said. 'But I think I have a problem with Twitter."
I'm such a bad mommy. I "get it" that this is supposed to be that endearing, fatty slab of everyday life that readers are supposed to relate to, but the melodrama and lament over this "addiction" doesn't make me think of Permanent Midnight or the Bad Lieutenant, but a bad Seinfeld episode, with the possibility of drifting into the fanaticism of the lovable scamps on South Park. I'm not sure how much of this is Laurel versus the editors at Salon, although those are a dying breed with more recent layoffs. BTW, don't get me started on Heather Havrilesky.
Cue the dramatic music, as here's the big reveal::
"...To think I’d let such a thing happen. To think that I’d lost time with my kids, my husband. To think of the work I could have accomplished. But also, I cried because I knew, with a real sense of clarity, that this was an addiction. I cried because I knew I’d have to cut back. I’d have to disconnect."
This makes Nancy Botwin of Weeds seem downright palletable. The rub is how Laurel needs to use the same technological tools in her everyday work, so there's always going to be that temptation. So, she now uses an egg-timer to limit her time on the Internet...a penance for the hours her kids spent watching TV this summer. Ah, a confessional tale is nothing without the delicious guilt to elicit compassion and schadenfreude, depending on who's reading it. I know plenty of adults who sink hours of time into the web, gaming, blogging, etc., but let's be clear here. The problematic use of the technology is merely a manifestation of other things going on in one's life, good, bad, or neutral. Laurel should really be examining the lure of social media and being connected to thousands of people, most of whom she'll never meet. That can be seductive, particularly if part of one's psyche really relates to the ennui of Madame Bovary tracing lines in an oilcloth with a knife. In my opinion, social media can feed social needs, offering up a seductive online party of chit-chat and being listened to. I think more compelling than the "I am an addict" metaphor, would be an examination of diversions in these late-modern times. Do these diversions tap into creativities or parts of the brain that are otherwise going fallow? Are they serving up social benefits that aren't available otherwise?
I think what is the most telling is how Laurel judges herself. Lamenting the lost work productivity and time with her family. Interestingly, I've come across families who are more connected through SMS and Twitter, but I get a sense that Snyder saw social media as a diversion away from her everyday life, not as a means to get closer to it. Pew Internet shows that time spent on the Internet is often at the expense of television viewing. While this might not be Laurel's experience, I'm all for examining our diversions within a larger picture.
While Laurel is really trying to stay away from Twitter, I hope she realizes that Twitter isn't the problem.
Twitterversion:: #TwitterMoms.com=good,#Salon art.on mom's#Twitter addiction=metaphor abuse & height of melodrama.Our diversions,ourselves.http://url.ie/28jf @Prof_K