You’ll notice, if you’ve been following me online for a while, that I’ve suddenly gone really quiet on short message service Twitter. I’d say that people have asked about this, but they haven’t, which is as good a sign as any to explain why I’ve changed my online activity recently.
Someone said to me recently that the rise of Twitter and Facebook is the “beginning of the end”; meaning that if such tools become so important to you, then you need to re-assess your priorities. I’d disagree and say that the tools have many uses, whether it’s to keep in touch with friends and family, advertise your business, engage in discussion with your clients and other professionals and so on. That said, it can also become a habit; one which can become easily as difficult to kick as cigarettes, alcohol or other addictive vices. My period of “de-toxification” began when I was in Italy a few weeks ago, when I went on holiday after a period of intense online activity and went “cold turkey”, choosing a hotel with no internet access.
I won’t make an all-too-common statement, that I’m giving up these social media websites. It’s foolish to say that, because you should get on with it rather than telling everyone what you’re planning. Instead, I made a decision to think three times before posting anything to Twitter, making sure that it was really _worthwhile_ spending the time to write a note and sharing it with my “followers” there. (Which, in itself, is dangerous: the greed for fans and sycophants is a huge draw to so many, myself included.) I have seen, too many times, the wave of messages when the weather is good saying that it’s sunny. I’ve seen waves of people note that it’s Wednesday morning, when my calendar (and indeed my sense) tells me exactly the same thing. My point being: I don’t need to follow a news service avidly, when it tells me things that I know all the time.
So, back to what inspired me to have a reality check. When I was in Italy, without internet access, I realized that no-one – not even my dearest friends and family – would care about the minutae of my holiday. Some would appreciate a postcard, some would look at the photos. But no-one would want to know the precise moment that I was about to walk into a decrepit church miles from anywhere. It was interesting to me and I enjoyed the experience, but recounting it in 140 characters or less is pointless. Those who follow bands or celebrities may enjoy knowing what their idols are doing at every moment but I am neither: I am just a person who travels sometimes and takes photos often.
Some people enjoy looking at my photos and many of them are drawn to comment. But many hundreds more don’t, which makes me even more reason for me to concentrate on the point of all this: that I need to live in order to create. My photographs and writing need to come as a by-product of my life, not to be the point of my life. I need to spend those valuable moments of life, which are short individually but when added together, make up so much of my life. I have spent an hour and a half browsing Twitter and Facebook every day for months on the train to and from work. This is ten percent of my day. Ten percent wasted with babbling. Ten percent in which I can read a proper book; gain much-needed rest; create.
Because I’ve wasted so much time with pointless babbling, I have had no time to create books of photography and of special holidays, yet I have wasted ten percent of my working day in inanities. So, no more. No more drivel. No more wasted time and a re-invigoration of my creativity. More time spent on really worthwhile projects: the first of which is “Into the Future“: a complete 180 page photographic book of the three week journey I took with Jo on the way to and home from our wedding in 2007.
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