At the beginning of last week, I imposed upon myself a Twitter holiday. A few days away from the addictive social network to focus on month end work, breaking the back of a few long standing items, basically getting myself back on an even keel.
As I did so, all hell broke loose. Hot off the heels of the worst PR managed budget I had seen, Cameron & Co. decided what we needed was a good old “fuel panic” in response to a strike that was not even called. As this started to gain momentum, there were politicos sensing this may be a distraction, sensing maybe that the rush to buy fuel would somehow ensure that Qtr 1 would show growth instead of contraction, sensing that this maybe Cameron’s “Thatcher moment”.
As I was watching this from behind the mountain of paperwork, it took a great deal of strength not to tweet on the subject. I could feel the urge to retweet links, to make snide comments at Cameron’s expense, generally add to the already tumultuous disquiet over the actions of the cabinet. But I resisted the temptation to pour fuel on the fire and got on with my work.
And it felt a bit nostalgic. Getting my news from the TV when I got home. Having discussions with my wife about what she had heard and seen. However, I felt somewhat refreshed, I had a desire to search out the news again rather than simply churning out what I hear and see when I see and hear it. My phone battery lasted longer, I was no longer gorging on the news, but rather taking bite sized chunks.
Now, after my twitter holiday, I am back looking at my timeline, gauging the mood, retweeting links, but taking a more relaxed approach to the news. I no longer feel I need to be the first to know, or the first to retweet. I look now to reflect on what I see and hear, forming an opinion and expressing that.
I am also looking to broaden my information bubble. At the moment, I choose what I want to hear and see and have grown comfortable with that bubble, but I don’t feel I am challenged by what I see or hear. I have lost a certain edge of discovery which I want to get back. Which I will get back.
However, that does make me think that the majority of people will create their own information bubble, where they can literally filter out what they do not want to hear. Is that a good thing? Or does it prevent people becoming truly challenged? Am I making the wrong presupposition? Will people want to challenge themselves and actively seek out information that will challenge them? If so, what kind of society will be created with this very individualistic approach to the provision of news and information?
So Twitter holidays are great. It’s like stepping back in time for a little while and enjoying the nostalgia. But it also helps you review what you use Twitter (and other social networks) for. Creating your own information bubble helps you get the information you want very quickly and easily, but it limits that information too. The sense of discovering something new can get lost if you are not actively searching for it.
It now seems that the responsibility is on the individual to seek the information they want, and the ability of someone to breach that information bubble has been greatly reduced.