All the time and often

All the time and often

I ran a workshop last week where I asked participants to choose words that they felt summed up their attitude towards technology. The words they chose were overwhelmingly negative. I was a bit surprised.

In the follow-up activity, I asked the same people to say how often they used technology. They had a scale with five options on it. All but one person chose the option at the very end of the scale, which was all the time. The other person chose the next one down, often.

It was really a interesting outcome in the context of the workshop. But it’s had me thinking more widely since, in no small part because I could entirely understand where the participants were coming from.

How come those of us who are most tech-savvy seem to be so frustrated by and critical of technology? Why do we use technology all the time if we feel so negatively about what it is and does to us?

There are obvious answers. Obligation. Compulsion. Addiction. And of course, it brings benefits along with its problems.

I’ve been thinking about how I use social media. There is a disconnect between how I’d like to use social media and how I actually use it.

I’d like to connect with writers, readers and publishing folk. I’d like to find interesting news, articles and videos about the things I’m into. I’d like to share those things and show my work.

It’s true that I do those things a little. I used to do them a lot more.

Instead I get lost in and angry about petty politics. I go down rabbit holes that seem interesting and important, but lead absolutely nowhere. And I spend time – far too much time – scrolling and searching for golden nuggets in an endless stream of crap and cruft.

Of course, I can choose what I read and who I follow on Twitter. I could make changes so that the people and content that fills my feed is far more tailored and narrow. Lists, mute filters and hashtags.

But Twitter is Twitter. There is no agreed subject matter. We’re free to say what we want about whatever we want. I could narrow my feed, but unless everyone else does the same, little would change.

So I can’t help wondering if niche networks might be the future.

For example, what if there was a social network just for writers, where people could talk shop, share stuff and learn from one another? I’d find that far more useful and meaningful than any platform I currently know about.

In fact, if I knew that 100 people felt the same way, I’d probably have a go at setting one up myself. I mean, how hard could it be?

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