I recently came upon a New York Times Magazine article by Virginia Heffernan regarding Twitter’s “claustrophobic” feel; an experience where the constant chatter of strangers’ tiniest doings finally becomes mindless noise. At the center of that experience is an emptiness: the realization that we are alone in many ways.
The meanness, the smallness, of our connections becomes apparent. A deeper connection is independent of our Facebook friends or Twitter followers. Were I to imitate Bruce Sterling, I might refer to this as “poverty.” Where is the richness in life that comes from deep, satisfying relationships with others?
Using Twistori to observe Twitter’s emotional zeitgeist, Heffernan writes,
The vibe of Twitter seems to have changed: a surprising number of people now seem to tweet about how much they want to be free from encumbrances like Twitter…
“I wish I didn’t have obligations,” someone posted not long ago. “I wish I had somewhere to go,” wrote another. “I wish things were different.” “I wish I grew up in the ’60s.” “I wish I didn’t feel the need to write pointless things here.” “I wish I could get out of this hellhole.”
The inner vibe hasn’t changed. No matter how much or how long we distract ourselves with it, interesting technology is an empty shell. As an end in itself, it will never, ever satisfy.