Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Twittermoms vs. The Salon of the Mundane:: Confessional Tales of a Twitter Addict

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


LCentineo said...

Oooooh, i am sooo bad with this kind of self-deprecating rant...listening to it, that is.

I cannot remember the last time I was able to derive benefits from having clean dishes. I am soo glad that I kicked that habit whilst I had the chance.

One fortunate cookie I am to have the totally crazy mother I had....the one who is, at this moment, doing my laundry and reading your post. I am very sure that she is only slightly outraged, and also giggling. It is likely that she is already writing a poem about it, knowing that I am responding to this post...as I should be. Who is going to argue with an old nutsy woman who aced every philosophy class she took? I'm not going to...

She already did...long ago...write about leaving the dishes and not making the bed and having another day of scrambled eggs for brekkie, lunch and dinner, and...not ever writing a poem. And I recall the day she tossed ever single wrinkle-able garment in the house...and bought a word processor...and then...a computer...laptop,a Bondwell B200. I still have that monumental moment under my bed...with power cord. It doesn't do dishes; never did.

To all those who claim addiction or blame some outside element of the world has unleashed an addictive temptation upon their heads, I offer the poem she wrote to me when I tried to be a conventional woman who plays by and panders to the tacit rules of societies' games:

Sister Woman
I do not understand
Your fears and inhibitions
Your customs and traditions
I was Bred Free
To choose my own devices
However crude and immature
Or ignorant of Womanlore.


It is the only piece of advice she ever gave me...ever. Well, that and, when you run out of clean underwear, buy more or bribe someone else to do your laundry.

Hugs, K...

Kenneth M. Kambara said...

Brilliant and brilliant, but how many pleaids are in your corner of the world? Oh, what a family you have. I'm wondering you're writing a book containing these witticisms crafted with such a poetic economy. If it exists already, I'll order a copy post haste.

I wonder how much agonizing over idealized roles has wasted MORE time than the diversions that have invoked it in the first place. How many households are truly "conventional" and what does said "conventionality" get us anyway? Bricks! Bricks, I tell you. A society made of uniform bricks, bricks that worry about being not-so-bricklike.

We'll have to arrange a dinner party for the B200 & the //e, knowing in advance they won't help to clean up...or do the dishes...or laundry.

Thanks for stopping by, as always. Apologies to mom for my churlish jabs in the post.


Starfish Cafe said...

If I ever get that organized, I'll let you know. How does one sort through 1000s of files, anyway? If I ever manage, I'll yell your way!!

I see six of the seven ladies, the objects of many inky lines.

Thanks, K-