Have you ever noticed an alarming trend in your life, but felt powerless to do something about it?
That’s how I’ve felt these past few months. I’ve been overjoyed at being back in Atlanta. I’m having a great time here. I love where I live. I am thankful to have a stable, financially rewarding job. I like living near folks like J&J and P.H. I’m having a blast running around and trying to find Atlanta’s best pizza. I love going to two independent movies a weekend (instead of two art movies a year).
At the same time, I’ve been going through a bit of a withdrawal — a shrinking back into myself. I’ve stopped calling people. I’ve stopped emailing people. In the process, I’ve lost touch with some very good friends, and that really bothers me.
I tell myself, “I’ll do better!” And then: I’ll have One of Those Days, and, when I get home from The Company, I can’t find the energy to read email, write letters, or stand out on the balcony to make a call (we have terrible coverage inside the condo — thanks, AT&T!). So another day without contact goes by … and another … and another … and, then, before I know it, there are folks I haven’t spoken to in days … weeks … and months.
Regular readers of the site have hit me up with email, saying, “Why are new entries so few and far between? We miss ya!” And that makes me feel guilty, and that makes me post a bunch of stuff in a flurry, and then I’ll have One of Those Days, and then … a week goes by with no posts.
I catch myself gritting my teeth, hunkering down, and just living for Friday. And when I do that, I get tunnel vision … and my whole world contracts.
I don’t note any of this as a way of excusing myself for the breakdown in communication. I’m talking about it only as a way of explaining what’s happened … and trying to understand it better, myself.
Over the next few days and weeks, I’m going to try to repair those connections.
In addition to some personal apologies and hat-in-hand reconnection messages I want to send, I’m wondering whether something like Twitter could help. Twitter is kind of like IM, but doesn’t demand immediate attention. It’s kind of like email, but you’re limited to 140 characters, so you have to be concise. It’s kind of like a blog … updated often … with very, very short entries.
Whatever you type into Twitter gets shared with everyone who chooses to “follow” you. If you choose to follow other people, you’ll see whatever they type in. The result? You build a little community of people, all of whom can update each other about where they are, what they’re doing, and what they need — in an instant, using 140 letters or less.
I initially dismissed Twitter as annoying and non-sensical (mostly because all the examples of its use involve people Twittering about “going to bed now” or “watching Battlestar Galactica” or “feeding the cat.” But it occurred to me today that Twitter could be:
– a cool way to keep in touch. One of the problems with running MadeByMark is that people who read it feel in touch with me … but, because I don’t hear from them on a regular basis, I don’t feel in touch with them! Twitter could make that connection more of a two-way street, because readers could tweet: “Loved that entry!” or “What were you thinking?”
– a great way for friends to leverage their mutual knowledge. Here’s the scenario: imagine you want a great recipe (or a movie recommendation, or the answer to a burning question). You enter it into Twitter, and your question gets copied to all your followers. One of them knows the answer, and Twitters it back. Everyone gets the benefit of the exchange. It’s fast and easy.
– a place to keep track of all those brief bursts of inspiration in a permanent place, like: “Rent THE KINGDOM” or “Have the main character in my new book discover a design hidden in the back of a Tarot card” or whatever.
Today, I invited about 25 people I know, but have lost touch with to some degree, to sign up for a free Twitter account. I’m hoping that, as our networks grow, we’ll all be able to feel better connected. It’s an experiment. I don’t know where it will go.
Meantime: if you’re curious about what I’m Twittering on about, there’s a web page that captures every Twitter that my friends and I make public.