What twitter feels likePosted: May 4, 2010 | |
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standing in the middle of the busiest crossroads in a giant virtual metropolis.
pedestrians swarming in from all sides, the rush of traffic and bustle of activity seems overwhelming.
it’s almost impossible to know what to do, where to go, who to talk to, even what to tell them.
everyone’s articulating random thoughts about anything and nothing in particular, appearing from and disappearing into the overwhelmingly anonymous mass of “individualities”, all seemingly on their way to somewhere, their thoughts apparently mattering to someone.
everyone seems to be passing by, ignoring hesitant bystanders (or those who are just being polite).
making (and breaking) contact within seconds…
this is what social media could feel like to a polite person, such as you and me, i suppose.
we don’t “steal in” an on-going conversation. we wait till the person speaking has finished making their point, acknowledge it, and react, if inspired, with a reply, expecting the same respect from everyone else. we take time to make friends. get to know people gradually, making choices as to who we spend time with, knowing it could be very precious.
virtual conversation, on the other hand, may feel very different. it has no beginning or end. there’s neither a clear number of participants, nor a set topic, not even a clear idea who you’re talking to. there’s no restricted time or space, there are no obvious conversational ‘turns’ in which an outside contribution would be appropriate.
for a person generally considered polite, all this could seem a little too chaotic, impersonal, and rude. this ‘netiquette’ may seem harsh, but is unavoidable. it’s a specific way in which we communicate ideas and talk with each other, for a special medium.
the most important skill for the 21st century is learning how to survive in the middle of the busiest crossroads in a virtual metropolis. learning to distinguish in that mass what’s important and what isn’t. learning to discern the ideas that matter from those that don’t. learning who to listen to and what to ignore without guilt.
after a while, individualities start emerging from the obscure mass. people who provide wonderful inspiration, motivation, encouragement are indeed there: those who don’t follow the main direction of the crowd, but stand their ground unassumingly, respectfully and naturally, creating a spot entirely genuine and pleasant.
that such people are available with no restrictions of time, distance, or politics, is one of the most fantastic things about the Internet.
no matter that you’re ignored or talking to no one in particular. we’re all chirping our way through to the ears that might listen.