A good friend once described me as a “social media Quaker.” Another called me a “social media snob.” Both may be right. I don’t deny the pervasive influence or potential benefit of the social media revolution, but I’ve mostly chosen not to join the party, remaining friendless on Facebook, having exactly one tweet to my name (a crude and snarky post that may end up being my Twittertaph) and only signing up on LinkedIn to try to locate someone I couldn’t find any other way. Even though, working for a newspaper, there’s a certain amount of pressure to stay plugged in to everything, everywhere, at all times, I resist the impulse personally for reasons of health and sanity, and professionally because I think in today’s culture the intensity of 24-7 cyber-immersion results in communication that is skewed to being almost entirely reactive rather than reflective. And what’s missing from the debate in the political arena, on the airwaves and on Internet comment boards, where so many of the participants prefer to act like monkeys throwing feces at one another, is the measured, reasoned and thoughtful approach to argument and analysis that can result in positive progress. Social media is a ceaseless echo chamber. Some of us just need more distance, space, quiet and time to think through problems, consider solutions, become inspired, stoke our imagination, create, invent or discover what's meaningful and valuable in our lives.
Another friend and I once had an idea – that we’ll never follow through on, so I’ll give it up to the universe – for a T-shirt company to compete with Twitter. We’d wear a different shirt every day, each bearing a new message. Some examples:
HAD A BAGEL TODAY.
LESS FACEBOOK. MORE FRESH AIR.
WHAT WOULD JESUS GOOGLE?
That kind of thing.
In the meantime, for those who are interested, the most popular Rhode Islander in the Twitterverse is Audrey McClelland, a working mom, writer and former fashion executive, who “vlogs” (video blogs) daily fashion advice. The last time I checked, which was also the first time I checked, she had 16,906 followers, ranking No. 1 overall in the Ocean State, ahead of such members of the Rhody Twitterati as Gov. Lincoln Chafee (No. 29), Rhode Island Monthly Bride (No. 93) and Rhode Island Weather Alerts (No. 98).
What Rhode Islander would you most like to follow on Twitter?