My wife gave me Dave Eggers’ new book “The Circle” for Christmas. You haven’t read it yet? Well go ahead–I’ll wait…
I know, right? For a rather long book that’s dense with ideas, you do plow through it quickly (good job!). Eggers’ narrative revolves around the omnivorous, insatiability of social media and its intersection with and ultimate monopolization of modern corporate life. There were at least half a dozen moments that hit home like a punch to the stomach.
The constant checking of your various feeds? Check.
The need to declare every passing interest as a passion to enhance your perceived humanity? Check.
And then there was this passage, spoken by a lone Luddite holdout against this new insurgence:“Listen, twenty years ago, it wasn’t so cool to have a calculator watch, right? And spending all day inside playing with your calculator watch sent a clear message that you weren’t doing so well socially. And judgments like “like’ and ‘dislike’ and ‘smiles’ and ‘frowns’ were limited to junior high. Someone would write a note and it would say, ‘Do you like unicorns and stickers?’ and you’d say ‘Yeah, I like unicorns and stickers! Smile!’ That kind of thing. But now, it’s not just junior high kids who do it, it’s everyone, and it seems to me sometimes I’ve entered some inverted zone, some mirror world where the dorkiest shit in the world is completely dominant. The world has dorkified itself.”
The character makes a good point, particularly when he goes on to talk about our ‘new neediness.’ The author makes quite a lot of good points, actually. And those were already bubbling in my consciousness when we went to see Ben Stiller’s thoroughly enjoyable The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. At a key point, Sean Penn’s photographer hero stakes out a highly-elusive snow leopard but ultimately decides not to press his shutter because he doesn’t want the camera coming between him and the moment. Not too subtle, but oh so true…
So this then, has become my resolution for 2014: to share digitally but live relentlessly analog. Not merely through re-tweets and shares, but rather through the visceral thrill of the first hand, with all its inherent mess and excitement, its disappointment and transcendence, all the immediate, the fleeting, the here and now.
That sounds like life worth tweeting.