Life’s What Happens When You’re Busy Making Tweets

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There’s a classic John Lennon line that goes…

Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans

I Sometimes wonder if that applies equally to the brave new world of social media, twitter, facebook and beyond. Comes a point where talking about what’s going on in the world, even with great people, supplants participating in what’s going on in the world.

And, no doubt, while I love the connection that certain technologies like twitter, Facebook and social media afford me, I’m also increasingly aware of it’s ability to become not only a time-sink…but a life sink.

Dont’ get me wrong, I acknowledge the value of great conversation.

But, I don’t want to spend all my time writing, tweeting and updating about what other people are doing, discovering, achieving and even failing at. Some of my time, sure. Learning from others and sharing what they’ve uncovered has it’s place.

But, as Theodore Roosevelt shared:

Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.

In the end, I sometimes wonder whether social media tends too much towards Roosevelt’s “gray twilight” and not enough toward his “glorious triumphs…checkered by failure.”

So, maybe, from time to time,  it’s healthy to step away from talking, tweeting, IMing, updating and writing a bit more.

Long enough, at least, to become less of a value added conduit…and more of a source of creation.

Something to think about next time we sidle up to our computers for an evening of running commentary and witty banter…about how someone else is living his life or running her business.

Curious, what do you think?

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32 responses

32 responses to “Life’s What Happens When You’re Busy Making Tweets”

  1. Rudolf says:

    Every coin has two sides. It all depends on who uses the tool. Some of us make use of amazing communication tools while others can turn them into distractions, shallow entertainment or even possible forms of escapism from real life challenges. We should always remember that we are the ones in charge of our lives, no matter what. It takes some clarity, focus and persistence though.

  2. Marko Saric says:

    Hehe what a coincidence… I have a similar blog article set to be published some 12 hours from now.

    Been thinking of similar thing as you… spending time on consuming stuff like Twitter, social media and other blogs vs spending that time producing important content that will get you closer to your goals.

  3. Andy W says:

    Love the quote about the “gray twilight”. This seems to also apply to those who go to work every day for “tha man”, come home, eat dinner, watch tv, and go to bed without fully experiencing life. I find myself in that position sometimes, which is why your blog is so important to me and why I’m trying to break free of the corporate world and pursue the things that energize my life. Great post!

  4. Sam says:

    While I agree, I don’t think the Twittersphere is listening. I wrote about this a few weeks ago. People can convince themselves that anything is productive, whether it’s chatting around the water cooler, writing tweets, or even blogging. “Hey, I’m sitting at my computer, so I must be working!”

    There is a time and a place for all the social media stuff, but it’s not a substitute for hard work.

  5. Ken Shenkman says:

    Certainly an interesting and timely issue.I have found quite a few times lately that I have had to shut down my Twittering for a while so I can get to work. Social media clearly has its value (I learn a great deal from my friends each day), however like most other things, moderation is the key,

  6. Ryan says:

    This is one of the key balance issues we deal with reporting the news. Reporters have to be engaged in what they are covering, and there are times that we can’t tweet. Finding the balance is important to their workload and to the quality of our reports. We are still working to find that balance.

  7. If one feels like they are wasting time then they should probably use the time for something that makes them feel good/productive. The process should not be a draining experience.

  8. Joe Hughes says:

    Great thoughts. It seems way too easy these days to get caught up in the “passive life” and not going out and creating experiences. This post serves as a good checks and balances reminder for me. Thanks!

  9. Something about my childhood must have put me in a place where watching it all happen just wasn’t my thing.

    Every book I’ve read has nudged me closer to writing my own (I’m now at three non-fiction, one fiction) Every song I hear reminds me of the music I want to create. I’ve written and recorded nearly 70 songs. When I love experiencing something as an observer, I immediately wonder what it would be like as a participant.

    I like technology, all the toys we play with. But my perfect vacation is when my wife and I load up the car with snacks and music and books and just drive until we see something we want to do—and then do it. Being disconnected from everything for a while, doing instead of watching, is vital to our marriage and our life.

  10. All things in moderation, including moderation. 😉
    I think balance is good. I know that I tend to go through patterns of spending a couple of weeks of intense work followed by a few days of laziness.
    It’s good, in fact, it’s important, to take time for yourself.

  11. Every week I usually take a day (or more) off from Twitter. It keeps me sane and helps me focus on other things.

  12. Mark Silver says:

    “Hey! Just read this great blog post=> …”

    Can be very true, eh? 🙂 Although my creativity can be impacted negatively unless I have contact with people. Some of that is live and in-person here in Portland. Some on the phone, and some through social media. It’s a give-and-take I find.

    I try to pay attention to my heart to see where I’m needing to be next.

  13. Dee Wilcox says:

    I’ve felt this way a lot lately, and have become more disciplined with Twitter as a result. I learn a lot from my friends, too, but I’ve found social media can be a major time-sink if it’s not managed well.

    Twitter is the greatest culprit for me. I leave TweetDeck up and running, but I no longer even attempt to monitor the constant stream of Tweets. For one, there are too many! I have my favorites in categories, and when I have a few minutes of down time, I check their updates, reply, DM, etc. When I have longer (i.e. stopped at a stoplight, waiting in line, etc.), I check the feed for all of the people I’m following.

    I’ve found that consciously limiting my time online, making myself get outside, or get out in the community increases the amount of time I spend living, versus reporting. And, when I do report, the quality of my writing is improved. I’d rather be a doer than merely a watcher of those who do.

  14. Can you imagine having as many people in one room as we often have in Twitter feeds? It quickly becomes like one of those parties where you finally give up trying to talk to the fascinating person you’ve met because the background noise won’t let you.

    So, you leave the party and have a quiet pint elsewhere. And maybe that’s still one possible answer, eh?

  15. Mark Silver says:

    The other thing is that for me, social media is simply a doorway. To use @Joel’s point, it’s true, I can’t have in-depth conversations on twitter- not supposed to. But, I’ve met fascinating people there, and have gone on to have deeper relationships with them through phone and in-person meetings.

    If we don’t expect social media to replace our lives, then they can add to them.

  16. Tim Baran says:

    Spot on. I think most of us feel this way and are in various stages of incorporating our own unique version of whatever “balance” mean to us, in our daily lives.

    One wish I have, especially of the many prolific tweeters, is to consider having at least two twitter accounts, one professional and one personal. It would go a long way in helping to weed out the overwhelming time-wasting drivel amidst the occasional nugget from “experts” in the field.

  17. I had two Twitter accounts, and people couldn’t seem to keep them straight; all my musical/hobby acquaintances were following my business account, and the business network glommed onto the hobby account. I never did sort out how to keep myself and followers straight, and now, I’ve taken a break from Twitter completely until I see a reason to come back.

  18. Kelly says:

    Certainly this is the most used defense for those who aren’t socializing. I haven’t found it to be true. In fact, I’ve heard as many stories of people meeting in REAL life bc of online networking (one whole family of a friend healed decades old wounds via FB) and for many of us, it has simply replaced chronic tv watching (me).

    Like anything, some will not find a balance with this new tools, but I think the potential for good outweighs the potential for holing up and passing out over your keyboard.

    Also, be selective about the sites you use. You can keep it to three. I pondered that in a post. Click my name if you want to read it.

    As usual, great stuff Jonathan.


  19. Your title made me laugh out loud. I agree. It’s important to step away from the computer, and our own self-indulgence, and really connect with those around us. As a sort of anti-social person, I have trouble doing this, but it definitely is important to take the time. This life is all we have and we don’t want to look back and realize that we Twittered most of it away…

  20. LisaNewton says:

    This goes along with my thinking of my love/hate relationship with Twitter. I love the idea of talking and connecting to people, but it’s such a time eater. During the course of my week, I don’t really have the time to develop the relationships I’d love to have. I follow so many interesting people, but one person will say something, another person RT’s something else. By the time 30 minutes has past, I haven’t really talked to anyone.

    Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’ve learned something about someone, but how do you take that appreciation for what someone is doing or saying and really build on it to a point where it’s meaningful for both of us.

  21. Lisa, I think the only way to build on Twitter is to move the conversation elsewhere. Twitter is for snippets and blurbs. A real conversation works better where you can share pensive pauses, and really listen (and really talk) without excessive background noise.

    If you engage with someone on Twitter, suggest taking it to email or a chat somewhere (are there still chat rooms? been far too long)

  22. Joe says:

    I agree that Twitter, IM, Facebook, and other social media can become huge time sinks that can suck you in if you’re not careful. I see people updating their Facebook pages several times a day, tweeting about riding the train home from work, and spending hours on chat. However, if used in moderation, with a plan, the same media can also be quite useful in advancing an agenda (your business, finding a job, promoting a cause, etc). It’s all about how you use them.

  23. Lauren says:

    Hi Jonathan! Just found your blog via some link love —

    The Tweetosphere really concerns me. How can everyone’s golden ticket to business success and e-popularity tuck so easily within 140 characters? I’m not buying.

    Within blogs themselves, you’re too right that we practice a backwards form of idol-worship. I’ve just read a very popular blog, where the latest post (about the blogger’s new diet) had no less than 63 comments. Seriously?

    What of real issues, global concerns, actual books…and the Obama’s puppy? Forgotten.

    I resolutely refuse to Twitter and bank on the fact that I’m creative and/or clever enough to make my business thrive without out. (Or something!

    Tell me I’m not alone on this?

    (P.S. typo in the line aware of it’s ability. =)

  24. You’re not alone, Lauren. Of course, as some folks point out, these tools have their place.

    It’s just not first place.

  25. This blog definitely resonated with me because I am beginning to feel the social media overwhelm…
    I do enjoy tweeting, linking, on all the sites I signed up for this year and have made many great connections on those sites but … other demands and life need attention too!
    As a working mom and new entrepreneur, I am slowly accepting the fact that I only have 24 hours in a day and need to sleep. Thanks for the reminder!

  26. Jeff Flowers says:

    “I’m also increasingly aware of it’s ability to become not only a time-sink…but a life sink.”

    This is so true. I spend so much time on digg, twitter, stumbleupon, as well as maintaining my blogs and 9-5 job… and then I take a step back and it just never feels like I get a break. It’s nice to just unplug for awhile, and take a break from the conversation.

  27. […] blog, Awake at the Wheel.  He mainly writes about work and life, and he hit a homerun with this post on putting down the computer (or whatever gets in your way) and go out, get dirty, and create […]

  28. yes, life is more than just your computer and internet.

    explore the world, from the sea to the forest
    Meet new people, (handshake and touch them physically, not just making conversation by social media, that’s so different)

  29. Ruri says:

    Therefore, we need to plan our business. Some people still using facebook for personal use. I mostly use it for a game and fun. It is fun as well. At least we still can meet with old friend. while busy doing a business.
    I believe handshake is not needed since it can transfer some virus or bacteria..LOL.

  30. Aditya says:

    I think that creating great content first and then using twitter, facebook and other social networks makes life much easier. Thanks for nice article.

  31. […] Life’s What Happens When You’re Busy Making Tweets | Jonathan Fields – view page – cached There's a classic John Lennon line that goes… Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans I Sometimes wonder if that applies — From the page […]

  32. Tanya says:

    I live in the suspension of concrete and steel that is southern California. The perpetual rush toward doing often leaves little time for the slowly-in-motion of being that I discovered abroad. This piece resonated with me in that I am often at my most disconnected when immersed in the social networks. I am not (by any personal measure) succeeding, or failing, truly living, or fully being. The sites are tools. And no matter how useful, a tool should not be a lifestyle. Tools enable lifestyle. At times the social mediastorm reminds me of people conversing with friends while holding mirrors… so they may carefully observe the movements of their own mouths. Which reminds me: I need to update my status.