How many tweets make up a book?


texting all the time

What are people doing with their noses in smartphones all the time?  The writer in me wonders this a lot.  What are they reading?  Texts from friends?  Facebook posts?  Work email?  Is it possible, in this golden era of social media, that not being ‘social’ – as in, waiting in line at Starbucks without monitoring a device – is so uncomfortable for some people that they pretend to be communicating with the world to make themselves feel loved?

Well, that was pretty cynical of me.  But honestly, what all is there to read on a smartphone?  I get email on my phone.  I get texts.  I check the weather, traffic, or news.  This blog was actually inspired by a recent Boston Globe columnist who wrote about his obsession with weather feeds when he was stranded in Europe waiting to fly home with bad weather here.  I see how Twitter helped him, and I understand that he might have had little else to do while waiting hours in an airport but monitor runway conditions.  I also understand that in times of emergency, revolution, or other tragedy, social media can play an important role.  But the rest of the time?  Tweeting constantly through the day?  Do I seriously need to do this?

I like looking around.  I like watching the people I pass.  Facial expressions, physical quirks, interactions with companions – all are fodder for my writing.  But what I write reflects my interest in people, which is the real reason I like looking around.  I also like noting changes in my surroundings – whoa, that store just closed?  I like breathing deeply and smelling the world.  These kinds of things clear my head.  I can’t imagine missing them.

There’s also the tiny matter of watching where you’re going so that you don’t bump into other people or a light post.  The fact that nose-in-device people don’t do this all the time suggests that they aren’t deeply focused on what they’re reading.

I like to focus deeply.  I want a book to envelope me.  I want it to commandeer my mind, so that I think about it when I’ve finished, remember it a month later, even look at something in my life a little differently for having read it.

Does Twitter do that?

How many tweets make up a book?  If a tweet is 140 characters, how many must you receive over, say, two days to make the equivalent of a 360-page book?  More to the point, when the reading is done, what do you have?  Sure, maybe you have a few good links, coupons, or knowledge of special deals, but can you actually find these once a gazillion more tweets have arrived?  Do you need to know who of your friends is doing what in a given instant?

Seems to me that, mostly, what you end up with at the end of those two days is old news.

Call me cynical here, too.  But I am a lover of books.  Can you do it all – be an avid tweeter AND an avid reader and still have time for work, play, and actual face-to-face conversation?   Tell me your thoughts.  Do you tweet?  If so, how much?



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  1. Wendy Keyes on March 8, 2014 at 7:55 am

    I love to read and especially love to read your books but what commands my short spurts of free time when, ie waiting in line, waiting for an appointment, watching TV, etc., is playing the game Words with Friends. At present, I have nine WWF game boards on the go with friends in five different time zones and visit in chat with my players, all of whom are women who love this Scrabble like game. We all are happy to fill in a word here and there throughout our days and maintain contact.
    In pre PC and other electronic device days, women would pick up knitting or crocheting for example….I think we just like to keep our hands busy.

  2. Kim on March 8, 2014 at 8:46 am

    Reading is important to me. I can only do it when sitting diwn so I can concentrate on the book and enjoy it! I get so absorbed in my books, especially yours, that I sm oblivious to the world around me. My friend reads on her phone and find that strange. When standing in line or waiting I just observe others and things. This world needs to unplug more, socialize and be aware! Thank for all your wonderful books, you are an amazing writer!!

  3. T on April 2, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    I do not tweet. I occasionally text and find it a great option on occasion. I am also not married to my cell phone. I use it mostly when meeting people or if I’m out and need to reach someone. I find it quite annoying to be in a grocery store and have people carrying on conversations. What’ wrong with talking to me? I have used my phone is a store to call to check to see if I’m able to pick up something someone might need. The conversation is brief and to the point and then I’m back to shopping. I once was entering a store parking lot and was almost hit by a woman talking on her cell phone. I tried to catch up to her to let her now I felt about our near encounter and saw her get out of her vehicle and grab the hand of her child and walk in the store, still talking on her cell phone. I felt very sad for that child. I think the phrase everything in moderation sums it up. I think things like tweets have a place but, as in anything else, when used more than is really necessary than it becomes a deterrent rather than an enhancement.

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