A couple of months ago, I turned off push-notification on my iPhone’s connection to work mail. I was getting sick and tired of the constant stream, and wanted to drive home the point that the correct way to reach me was through the appointed channels, not by personal email. And somehow along the way I wound up turning off push notification for my primary personal account as well.
I also shut down my Facebook account (although I haven’t yet nuked it from orbit) to prevent unwanted family sniffing – plus it occurs to me that I kind of need to start my social networking over and actually go by the dictionary definition of friend rather than the Facebook definition. My whoever, whatever, what-the-hell-I’ll-follow-you content has been passed into a couple of Twitter accounts, and I find that I check Twitter far more than email or any social network. That is, when I’m not shutting off the iPhone altogether on Tuesday nights.
I find, too, that email is starting to slip through the cracks if I don’t address it right away. Things get lost in the shuffle, buried in the daily digital avalanche – and it’s not nearly as bad as it’s been in years past, when I subscribed to a listserv that pummeled my mailbox with daily digests when it wasn’t sending a firehose of individual messages. I have to make a conscious effort to go back and look and be sure email hasn’t gone down the rathole.
So why has this happened? Part of it is because Twitter is such an effective means of having a constant social stream – unencumbered by terrible games, spam links (mostly), enormous pictures or the need to provide information that constantly gets unwillingly shared. Twitter is fully pseudonymous and doesn’t care if you have multiple accounts (I’m responsible for several). And Twitter can be had anywhere – website, laptop app, phone app, or even converted into a stream of text messages if you’re not on one of those asshole US cellular carriers. Hell, in 2007, I ran my Twitter from my tourist phone in the UK, with great success.
But part of it is also because email itself has gone by the boards. I don’t have much to email about anymore. Everything is a tweet or a text, or else a blog post, and punching out email on a phone is problematic if the mail is longer than, say, a tweet. Making the mobile phone the locus of computer communication has, of necessity, curtailed how much you have to say. Spam is still out of control in some sectors; two of my accounts literally stop hundreds of spam emails a day. Talking on the phone? Means of last resort. I haven’t felt the need to routinely converse on the phone since 2004 sometime, and have discussed elsewhere the creeping dread that comes with the ringing of a telephone, so strike that. And forget about snail mail. Maybe a postcard from friends, but that’s about it.
Maybe I’m just making a conscious effort to do my socializing in person these days.