Information Avalanche

Years ago, when most of us crawled on line through telephone modems, the Internet was often called the Information Super Highway.  Forget that.  Today’s online experience is faster, vaster, a veritable Information Tsunami.  And I, for one, can’t keep up.

I’ve been making an effort.  My friends, most of them writers, dragged me into social media a few months ago, even as I resisted, clinging to tried and true excuses:  I don’t understand it, I don’t need it, I don’t have time for it.  All good excuses.  All valid.  I jumped in anyway.  And I liked it.

But I’m having trouble with Twitter.  No, not technical trouble.  The program is simple enough.  But I’m not really sure I see the point.  For a while I actually tried to keep up.  I followed my friends, local and cyber, a couple of local news sources, pictures of adorable animals, and so forth.  Maybe two hundred Tweeters.

I found myself watching personal conversations, sometimes both sides, sometimes only half, between people who apparently find it easier to tweet from their smart phones than to email or actually phone someone.  I saw pictures of lunches, children, sunsets and bookshelves.  I learned to my amusement (and sometimes amazement) that many of my women friends are extremely serious sports fans.

Many people I follow, particularly my fellow writers, post links to articles and web sites and pictures.  Interesting stories, valuable information, but I just don’t have time to go look at a quarter of them.

I can’t keep up.  Trying to follow Twitter during the day uses up far too much time.  I have a full-time job, but it would be just as much a time sink if I were home trying to write full-time.  And this with only 200 Tweeters in my stream.  Who are these people I see who are following hundreds, even thousands, of Tweeters?  Why would anyone do that?  How could anyone do that?

I don’t tweet  lot myself:  when I post something here, when I buy a book or review one on Amazon, when I see a particularly funny bumper sticker or billboard on my commute.  I’m trying to be interesting–after all, isn’t that the point of having an Internet Presence?  But I honestly don’t know why strangers pop up on my Followers list.  They are certainly welcome, I’m just not sure what, if anything, I’m giving them.

Yesterday afternoon I decided to organize.  I set up Twitter Lists and divided my contacts into various categories.  I unfollowed some of the news sources that were pelting me with things I’d already seen TV or in the newspaper.  I removed one person I couldn’t identify–she hadn’t tweeted since last fall, perhaps even more puzzled by the whole thing than I am.

The lists do seem to make information a bit easier to find.  I’ll add more to the Industry list so I can keep up with the agent/editor/publisher news and gossip.  I’ll check up on my friends and watch for new books from my favorite authors.

And I’ll try to tweet more interesting or amusing comments myself.  Once a day, maybe.

Excuse me while I send this post to Twitter.