The real problem is living in an age in which there’s no such thing as enough.
We are constantly reminded we eat too much, work too much, spend too much, point and click too much and while away too much of our lives numbly taking in whatever the TV and internet hork up as the day’s entertainment.
Meanwhile, we read too little, sleep too little, pray too little, walk too little, listen too little, love too little and smell the roses way too little.
Guilty. Too much of the wrong stuff, too few better choices.
And then we get to social media, which accentuates every too-much tendency we have. I’m not much for Facebook, which is flooded with the banal (my puppy discovered the hallway mirror), the sappy (every sunrise is a new opportunity to find your truest self and make a difference) and the hysterical (the planet of zombies they don’t want you to know about).
Not that it’s a whole lot better, but Twitter is more my speed. It’s best if not taken too seriously, though one serious note is needed here: These folks – Twitter chief among them – have got to get their act together and find a way to crack down on the post-and-run hate, much of it directed at women because they’re women. Language you would never read in a newspaper – still a pretty good standard, friends – comes up constantly and shamelessly. It cheapens us, and it hurts real people.
Twitter this week is subject of a kerfuffle. It has doubled its famous message limit of 140 characters. In a sign of how soft, addled and distracted we have become – somewhere, the pioneers look upon us and weep – this has ruffled feathers. It’s the perfect Twitter thing, the wailing and gnashing of teeth over next to nothing.
But 140 characters forced an elegant economy of words, they say. No, it didn’t. It let lazy people write ‘u’ for “you,” forcing the rest of us to decode the meaning. It’s not as if people were churning out haiku.
One hundred and forty characters? Arbitrary. Two-eighty? Arbitrary. The standard newspaper page? No such thing anymore and arbitrary anyway. Storytellers fit stories into forms. They find a way.
As I alluded to earlier, “enough” has become a dirty word. If Twitter has become a force for less than good, it makes all the sense in the word to double its dark powers. As a wise person once asked, what could go wrong?
We too much of many things and not enough of a key thing, enough of a sense of shame to intuit the boundaries of decency. So plenty can indeed go wrong.
– Jeff Fox is still on Twitter – @FoxEJC and @Jeff_Fox – and he tries to use his powers for good.