The virtue of technology is its capability to improve our lives. It can make things more efficient, allow us to leverage our time better and many technologies enhance the quality of our lives.
But just because something is a technological advance, even if it is cool, does not mean it will improve our lives. There are pros and cons to everything. The question is whether the negative outweighs the positive. I think Twitter is an example of that.
The Benefits of Twitter
I am not a Twitter hater. I have an account and use it once in a while to post a few things; I will likely share this post on Twitter. It is a great communication platform to share and learn wisdom from individuals we respect and admire. It allows people to market their company/expertise/ideas and get “followers”. That can help with growing a business, or at the very least our very sensitive egos.
And the Cons…
There are several ways in which Twitter diminishes the quality of our lives.
1. Noise. We have too much noise, too many distractions in our lives. We have so much information, we don’t know what to do. Twitter is a primary platform to spread noise. The problem with information is that it has a crowding out effect. As we consume information, we are taking time away from something else. That something else may be time with family, time with ourselves or time engaged in more beneficial activities.
2. Hasty Behavior. Instant access to information and the instant responses we expect can cause us to also act/react quickly. And the faster we act, the more likely the response originated from our impulsive, emotional, reflexive brain. This is the brain that can help us respond quickly to danger and situations that require instant decisions, but often gets us in trouble every other time. It’s the ‘foot in the mouth.’ There are very few things in life that require instant response, yet when everything we are consuming is instant/now, we adapt and begin to respond similarly.
And what about people that check their phone in the middle of the night, or first thing when they wake up? Or at every moment when they don’t have something else occupying their minds? Why do we do this to ourselves? Our thoughts and moods are instantly dictated by what we read and what others say (or how many likes/shares we got). There are many apps on meditation and books on leadership that extols the benefits of meditation. Maybe we wouldn’t need so many self help books if we didn’t look at our phones every free second.
3. Insomnia. Many people suffer from sleep disorders, with a significant portion of the population receiving less than what our brains need. No worry, we can just caffeinate our way out of exhaustion, right? Why are we not sleeping well? Is it because of the amount of information we allow in our brains during the day, without the discipline to allow our mind to be quiet? If we are loading it with unfiltered information during the day (or providing it), it is no wonder our wheels are still spinning while we attempt to sleep. We can’t just go from 100mph to zero when we want. And looking at our phones in the middle of the night or first thing in the morning ensures a diminished quality of life.
Just Say No
Now, this isn’t just about Twitter. Email boxes are full. People post and check out social media way too many times during the day. Our lives are becoming nothing more than social media and consuming unfiltered information. This is really about you and me. It is about self-discipline, accountability and taking control of our own lives.
We have one (precious) life to live. Do you really want to relinquish all control to others and the noise of the world? Do you really want to be nothing more than a puppet while others pull the strings?
Technology is great. Twitter is great. So long as we set up parameters for its use. We don’t need to know everything or be the first to hear about some news story that probably means nothing anyway. So what if we miss something of value here or there? How does our time spent negatively affect our lives on a daily basis.
One final question:
How many people on their death bed have wished they would have tweeted, posted or engaged more with social media?