Posts Tagged ‘time

17
Sep
11

Twitter’s a Drug, Y’all!

So, I’m taking some time off. Wish I could say it was some time off work, but nah, it’s time off from Twitter. I’m going to give it a week and see how things are, then decide how often I want to be on it. (For the record, Twitter is my main form of social media…I hardly ever log into Facebook, Google+ or any of the other major or minor networks)

The decision (which I tweeted about, so people wouldn’t wonder where I went) struck some people as sudden, a few of my favorite tweeps among them—and my wife as well—but there’s a reason. Well, actually, more than one, but most of it boils down to time. Twitter takes time. It can take too much time, and when your life is already chronologically challenged like mine, that’s a big thing. Then again, most drugs are time-stealers.

Yeah, Twitter’s a drug. I said it. More on that in a minute. (And it doesn’t mean I think Twitter is bad.)

So, how did I get to the point I figured I need a good chunk of time off? Well, the tipping point came Saturday morning, when my wife told me she was a bit surprised I didn’t check on her the previous evening when she was sick, and simply came to bed at around 1:30 (which is a pretty usual time for me, just so you know), rolled over to my side, and went to sleep. Apparently, she meant it as a light comment. But it didn’t sound light. And my response led to a response by her which set up a nasty feedback loop. I won’t go into details. We both overreacted. Doesn’t matter who “started it” or who “overreacted more” or even if there was any quantitative difference. But an interesting thing that my wife did was to strongly suggest I not interact with her on Twitter anymore. The “why” isn’t important. What is important is the impression she had that my presence on Twitter with regard to her had caused her some hurt. (How does this tie in with the whole “not checking on her while sick” thing? Trust me, there’s a connection, but let’s not get off track now.)

Also, for what it’s worth, we’ve both apologized to each other for the morning weirdness, and my wife has indicated it’s not necessary for me to step back sharply on Twitter interactions with her nor mentions of her on Twitter. Nor did she ever tell me to stop tweeting for any amount of time. Let’s make that clear.

That very same day, a few hours after the blow-up between me and the wife had blown over, one of my tweeps responded to a tweet I had made the night before. It wasn’t an angry response, mind you. But it was a misunderstanding of the thrust of what I had posted online (Something to the effect of “By what strange alchemy does the Japanese language make most of the men sound angry and most of the women sound inherently giggly?”). My intent, aside from a slight bit of humor, was to point out that whenever I hear Japanese (and this is the only language I’ve witnessed this in), it so very, very often evokes specific gender differences and cultural mores in the very intonations. But my tweep first noted I was engaging in stereotyping and then in sexism. I wasn’t doing either, because my point was what it sounded like, not how I viewed the people who spoke the language, and I simply wondered at why that occurred in the speaking of that language so much.

It didn’t turn into a Twitter argument or anything. She’s reasonable and I explained myself. So, no bad blood. But, on top of the comments by my wife, it was another example of Twitter causing me to step in something I hadn’t intended to step into. Having cleaned up both messes (the encounters with the wife and the tweep) doesn’t make stepping into them to begin with any more pleasant.

So, I started thinking about Twitter. I started thinking about how I use it to be witty. Or snarky. Or edgy. Or insightful. Or banal. Or a combination of these and other things. I wondered if I’m using Twitter too much and trying too hard. Could it be that this particular social network was encouraging me to engage online frequently to the detriment of my interpersonal relationships (marriage, parenting, friendships, etc.)? I thought about how Twitter works in my life. Every few days or so, I might have a day when I didn’t check Twitter much, or at least not until nighttime when Little Girl Blue was in bed, but I pretty much checked it every day. Most days, I checked it frequently, and often I would go back a ways and see what tweeps were saying. Even when I didn’t go back far, just looking at responses to me or by my favorite people on Twitter could take a while.

Does it eat up all my time? No. I’m not addicted. But Twitter IS a drug of sorts.

This isn’t all bad. Alcohol is a drug, too. I like to have a glass or two of wine most nights. I like beers and ales. I rarely get drunk, but a light buzz is nice when the day is done and I no longer have to go anywhere by car or deal with deadlines. Also, almost every day of my life involves caffeine, which is also a drug. Nicotine and marijuana are both drugs, neither of which I have any particular grudge against. There are many other drugs, of course, that are of more concern to me and which I would likely never so much as touch, and most of them do tend to begin the ruin of many a person’s life. Then again, even the hardest drugs can be used more or less responsibly by a precious few people without leading to addiction, personality changes or whatever.

So, calling Twitter a drug isn’t an insult. I’m not knocking Twitter, nor am I making judgments or casting dispersions on people who use it. After all, I plan to come back to it. And Twitter isn’t the only form of social media that can eat at our time, sometimes too much so, or even lead to addictive behavior among some users.

Thing is, though, I could get more done if I stepped away from Twitter. In fact, by stepping away I’m already getting something done: I’m updating this blog for the first time in a while.

I’m trying to write commentary and short stories for four blogs that are solely my own (two publicly attached to my name and two that remain anonymous due to sexual content) and a fifth that I share with someone else (also anonymous and sexual in nature…yeah, I’m a randy kind of guy…sue me.)

Twitter easily eats a couple hours each day. Probably more many days. Sure, I stay up late and do a lot of the tweeting then, and it’s not like I tweet when I’m supposed to be doing work for my paying job, but it still eats up time. Time that could be used for other forms of writing I’ve been neglecting, my fiction being the one first and foremost in my mind. But I also could be catching up on the many movies I want to watch on DVD or streaming on Netflix. I could be catching up on several great cable TV series that I missed because Little Girl Blue hogs the TV during the day and evening. I could be reading more novels that I want to read.

Yeah, you noticed I didn’t mention family. That’s because I don’t do all that much social media when it’s family time or the wife and I are doing stuff. I’ve been known to check Twitter very quickly at times, for example, when we’re shopping or something and I’d otherwise be standing around looking clueless while my wife is picking out clothes for our daughter or something, but I rarely take it out if I’m actually supposed to be engaging with my family. Still, the fact I even do…however rarely and briefly…pull out my phone and turn on the Twitter app during the occasional meal out still says something about the druggy nature of Twitter.

Again, drugs aren’t all bad. If I’m losing my mind due to exhaustion I may need to guzzle my coffee quickly when my family is trying to talk to me. If I’ve had a really rough day, having a glass of wine at dinner might be a good idea just to chill a bit.

But to my mind, there are a lot things I could have been doing that I wasn’t because I was on Twitter (all my blogs have suffered in recent weeks for lack of regular updates, for one thing).

Am I giving Twitter up? No. I like it. It’s fun. And it doesn’t cause me to become violent, spend all my money, engage in hazardous sex, crash my car or anything like that. As far as drugs go, it’s not a bad one. But I’m going to clear my system of Twitter just a little and then reassess after a week how I feel and how often I really want to be on Twitter going forward. I need to find out how much I get done without it, to better gauge how much time I should spend with it in the future.

Maybe that will mean getting rid of many people whose tweets I rarely read. Maybe it will mean taking every other day off of Twitter. Maybe it will means a strict time limit each day. Who knows?

You won’t see me on Twitter for a week, give or take, but maybe you’ll see me here more often.

14
Jul
08

Stealing Time

We don’t spend much time on this Earth. I know that it may seem like an interminable period of misery and pain for some people, a few of whom are singing “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” right now and hoping God would just put them out of their misery and bring them home now, but in the grand scheme, it doesn’t mean much to God. He’s got eternity on the other side.

Our lives here are a speck and He knows it and we should too. But, the fact is, time does mean a lot to us here on Earth.

For those who don’t believe there is an afterlife, for those who aren’t sure, for those who don’t really know if it’s better, well, they have a lot of concern about how their time on Earth is spent.

Even for those of us with either a pretty firm or rock-solid faith that there is a hereafter and that it’s going to be way better (assuming you pick the winning side of the spiritual war…nudge, nudge), time is still important. We may know that we have something better waiting, but that doesn’t mean we want to spend our days in physical or emotional pain, wasting our time, or anything else. We have families and friends who want our time, we want our personal time, and so on.

Yet in this world, there are plenty of people who not only want to waste our time but who insist on doing so, actually do it pretty effectively—and in many cases claim it is their inalienable right to use our time as they wish.

They are thieves.

They are stealing precious time from us and in many cases, this shit needs to stop.

Now, as you can tell, even though I’ve sprinkled some religious talk in here already, this post is going to be a rant. I’m not going to tell you exactly what sparked this rant. Suffice to say that people who are in the know in my life and who read this blog will probably figure out what set me off. If you want something strictly and completely spiritual, scroll down the main page of this blog to see if you missed anything this week, or just check out the post immediately below this one (Cycle of Trees), which offers a heartfelt spiritual message laden with meaning and wisdom—I hope.

So, back to time-stealing dingleberries in our lives.

Time thieves abound in life. Here are a few examples, some of which may be drawn from my life and one of which might even hint at what set me off today.

  • You are an employer or a supervisor and you believe that because the people under you are paid salaries, you are entitled to their time whenever you feel you need it. You don’t pay them hourly, you aren’t required to give them overtime, and you might not even give them comp time for when you keep them late or have them work weekends. Yet you think you own them. You think you can dictate to them whether or not their family time is important enough that they should be able to partake of it. You cancel vacation days and time off and weekends because your higher-up is saying that there is work that trumps everything else. If you are one of these people, you should be ashamed, and doubly so if you are in the United States. Americans work more hours than most folks in the developed world and use less vacation and sick time. We’re killing ourselves slowly and making a misery of our lives for our companies, and we can’t even get decent health insurance from them anymore. Sickening.
  • You are a person who is single, and who gets snarly when a married co-worker with kids (or an unmarried one with kids, for that matter) comes in a little early to leave a bit early for a soccer game or something. You get mad if your supervisor gives them more opportunities to try to make up time or shift around hours because they have daycare hours to contend with or activities to attend or just want to see their kids and give them some love. If you are getting mad and thinking this person is getting a special deal or a free ride, get over your damn self. When you are married, you will see how much damn work it is to keep a relationship like that healthy. When you have kids, you will find out how hard it is to juggle family and work time. When you are no longer single and/or child-free, you will know how glorious family time is and how important it is, and if you have a shred of decency, you will feel bad for talking shit about your family-minded co-workers once you have a personal taste of what they had to give up to work 90% of the workday and you will find yourself wondering why you have to beg to leave a few minutes early to see your kid’s play or celebrate your spouse’s birthday. Do us all a favor and stop bitching now so you won’t have to feel guilty later. And don’t do what some of your fellow single folks might do and backstab and undermine those married and child-rearing co-workers because you feel like they’re your enemies for wanting family time.
  • You are the custodial parent of a child (or children), and your ex gets little enough time with the kid(s) already, even though he or she really wants to spend time with them. You do your best to steal away weekends and cut short summers. You suddenly announce events without any warning, knowing this will inconvenience both your ex and your children and destroy their plans, all because of things like selfishness, desire to hurt the other person, or whatever. Even if you still can’t see fit to treat your ex with decency, please do yourself and the children a favor and stop being so petty. You have most of the year with the child or children already. Cherish what you have instead of stealing what’s not yours.
  • You are a lazy worker. You come in all sloppy to work and leave your co-workers to pick up your slack. You use trickery, lies, subterfuge and whatever else to make it look like you’re doing more than you are but you aren’t carrying the load that you could be. You don’t have a good reason for it; you just don’t care. It’s not that you don’t want to be worked to death but rather that you want to get your pay and do as little as possible while getting whatever you can for yourself, in terms of long lunches, time off, office supplies, etc. You are stealing your company’s time and probably other resources. You are stealing your co-workers’ time by making them do your work. You are a piece of crap and need to grow up and get some responsibility, or move into your parents’ basement and play video games all day.
  • You are at the only drive-through ATM and doing all your freakin’ banking that you should have done during banking hours, while people pile up behind you and are now running late because you want to check your balance—twice, make a deposit (filling out the forms while at the ATM instead of having done them at home), check the balance of another account, withdraw money (and then count it out as slowly as possible), transfer some funds, and then check your balance again. Bonus points for asshole-ishness if the bank is actually still open and you just decided that you didn’t want to get out of your car, you lazy bastard.
  • You are in the 10-items or less line at the store and have at least twice that number of items, possibly three times the amount or more. You decide to also quibble with the checker about prices and then have the gall to pay by check, writing out that sonuvabitch so slowly that we would all swear you have a neurological problem. But it turns out you’re just a time-wasting jerk who doesn’t want us to get home to our families.

OK, I feel better now having got that out of my system. To the person, organization, or other entity who sparked this rant, I forgive you, but please don’t let this crap happen again. I ain’t Jesus, and I have a lot of other pressures in life right now. And I feel like I am running out of cheeks to turn for folks.




Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

Jeff Bouley

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Jeff Bouley

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